Tickets on sale November 14 at 10 am.
Pensotti’s beautiful work mixes puppetry, play-in-a-play and film. With which it explores the search of Russian avant-gardists to new art forms just as ironically as honestly.
About the performance
"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 One hundred years later—though Communism as a political system seems outdated—Argentinean theater maker Mariano Pensotti turns those very human and at the same time political words into a question for our time.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.
The MCA presented the North American premiere of Pensotti’s Cineastas in 2015. The sold-out run anticipated a current concern associated with many Latin American productions: what is Latin American theater? This question presupposes Latin American theater in constant process of emergence. Actually, what is now called modern Latin American theater emerged in the mid-twentieth century as artists came together with a common ideal for a movement, one that took into account the social and cultural revolutions throughout the region. The appearance of new protagonists, new actors, new audiences, and new spaces required the development of a different dramaturgy capable of representing the diversity found across the continents. This need has led to an idyllic and naïve position, often associating these identities with a nostalgic ideal anchored in the past. The resulting oversimplification of Latin America fuels the issue at hand: the treatment of Latin American theater as if it comes from one homogenous country. Pensotti’s preoccupation is performance that allows human context rather than any cultural expectation. He works through the tragedy of globalization and toward performance with an Argentinian sensibility that, at its core, aspires to a deeper, human understanding.
Copresented with the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival
About the Artist
Mariano Pensotti began his career in cinema, directing award-winning feature films in Buenos Aires by the age of 25 before turning to theater. His central goal is the public display of the private, and how the private returns to become a part of the collective through literature, cinema, music, and visual art. His writing and directing is influenced by the group dynamic of collective creation, as demonstrated through his collaborations with Grupo Marea, founded in 2005. His performances are a “theater of the real,” pushing real lives onstage to reconsider what is fictional and what is the creation process. Derived from improvisation and experimentation throughout the rehearsal period, his theater is not fiction based in real life, but a document of a lived experience.