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Mariano Pensotti/Grupo Marea
Arde brillante en los bosques de la noche (Burning bright in the forest of the night)

Mariano Pensotti, Arde brillante en los bosques de la noche

Photo: Loderndes Leuchten

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.

—The Tage mirror

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 One hundred years later—though Communism as a political system seems outdated—Argentinean theater maker Mariano Pensotti turns those very human and at the same time political words into a question for our time.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.

Copresented with the Chicago International Puppet Theater Festival

This performance contains mature content.

This performance is presented in Spanish with English supertitles.

RUNNING TIME: 105 minutes with no intermission

Accessible Events


FRI, JAN 25, 7:30 pm


SUN, JAN 27, 2 pm

An optional live audio description for patrons who are blind or have low vision is available for use. Headsets can be reserved by calling our Box Office at 312-397-4010.

Relaxed performances are for people with or without disabilities who prefer some flexibility in regard to noise and movement in the theater. Stage lighting and sound have been adapted by the artists to be less intense. Patrons are free to leave and reenter the theater as necessary, and the theater lights are kept at a glow to facilitate movement. Sensory rest areas are available outside the theater for patrons to take a break before returning to the show. Volunteers, many of whom are members of the disabled community, are present to assist.

Post-Show Talk

FRI, JAN 25, immediately following the performance

The audience is invited to stay for a moderated Q&A session with the artists.

Mariano Pensotti, Arde brillante en los bosques de la noche

Photo: Grupo Marea
A man and a woman appear at the front of a dark stage, manipulating marionettes that resemble themselves in front of a bright moon.

Mariano Pensotti, Arde brillante en los bosques de la noche

Photo: Grupo Marea

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.

Five people in a darkened space sit on chairs with their backs to the audience; in front of them is a giant projected profile of a short-haired person looking to the right.

Mariano Pensotti, Arde brillante en los bosques de la noche

Photo: Grupo Marea