"What is to be done?" This question, which vexes every human being, is the title of Vladimir Lenin’s most famous book, with which he initiated the Russian Revolution of 1917. One hundred years later—though Communism as a political system seems outdated—Argentinean theater maker Mariano Pensotti turns those very human and at the same time political words into a question for our time. The stories of an exhausted university teacher, a young communist guerrilla fighter, and a journalist who covers the hopeless existence of Russian immigrants—Pensotti ingeniously weaves them together.
At its essence Arde brillante is a revolutionary combination of puppet-theater, film, and theater performance inspired by Soviet revolutionary and feminist Alexandra Kollontai and her concerns about freedom, the body, and sexuality, as well as the ways that capitalist society shapes a woman’s identity.
The performance explains the paramount concern of Mariana Tirantte, coauthor with Pensotti, to play up representation in creating the design and film for Arde brillante. Her approach questions how one looks at another body and the limitations to visualizing how looking at someone else can change one’s own story.
Arde brillante also probes the limits of a play by using puppets, and turns into a theater performance that turns into a film and vice versa—catalyzing the different stories and disciplines to influence each other in surprising ways. Puppets tell the story of a female university professor who teaches the Russian Revolution in Buenos Aires. A film follows another woman, a TV journalist on vacation in Misiones, in the north of Argentina, where young and poor descendants of Russian emigrants work as strippers and prostitute themselves to middle-class women.
Pensotti and Tirantte make theater to test metafiction. Characters are not only transformed by watching the lives of other people employed in the creative field, but also begin to question their role in history. By structuring fictions inside fictions, their latest work takes on the formal ideas of the Russian avant-garde—placing the body and its representations in conflict, discussing the dichotomy between being a spectator to or participant of history, and researching the validity of biopolitics and the political control of the body by power.
Copresented with the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival