Theater

DRAGÓN

Written and directed by Guillermo Calderón

Chile

  • Spanish
  • 90 minutes
  • +12

Can art be a conduit for social change? Guillermo Calderón’s new production explores – both ironically and critically - artists’ involvement in dealing with current and important issues.


The Dragón group gets together every now and then at a restaurant on the Plaza Italia to decide upon and plan their next artistic installation. This time though, they’ve chosen an issue so complex that they’re locked in a bitter dispute that’s destroying them. The only way to restore the trust between them is to put on a new play, but it’s too late. Their only way to create is based on betrayal.

Chilean director and playwright Guillermo Calderón’s most recent production after Mateluna (2016) is a reflection on art’s political role and the problems that emerge when you have to decide how to represent complex, relevant and important issues in a play. What role does - or should - art play? This is one of the important questions that Dragón poses, as well as its critique of Chilean and Latin American society. The play is a UC Theater, Teatro a Mil Foundation and Theater der Welt 2020 Düsseldorf coproduction and was premiered as part of the ninth Teatro Hoy season.

Written and directed by: Guillermo Calderón | Cast: Luis Cerda, Camila González and Francisca Lewin | Assistant director: Ximena Sánchez | Set, costume and lighting designer: Rocío Hernández | Wardrobe and assistant designer: Daniela Vargas | Audiovisual development: Alex Waghorn, La Copia Feliz and Ximena Sánchez | Producer: María Paz González | Coproduced by: the Teatro a Mil Foundation, UC Theater and Theater der Welt.

Acknowledgements Prosit (Plaza Italia), UC Faculty of Arts, Galería Macchina.

It brings the discussion about current and important problems in Chilean and Latin American society to the stage. As Guillermo Calderón indicated in a conversation with the Teatro a Mil Foundation before Dragón’s premiere: “I’d say that it’s inspired by Chile and the international context, by people who come to a country without speaking the language or knowing anything about it, with no money or visas, surviving in only the most basic living conditions and also dealing with violence. (…) It’s a scary and desperate play, because all these things are happening right now in the world”.

It questions the role of art as a political conduit from the perspective of art itself. Sometimes ironically and sometimes brutally, it asks how artists should portray those affected by racism or xenophobia on stage. “This group of artists comes from a background of absolute privilege. We express ourselves based on ideas; we live a privileged life and we’re always aware of this and doubting ourselves. So, to talk about people who are more vulnerable and unprotected is also a huge ethical responsibility, because at the same time we’re ask ourselves how we can talk about them without talking for them or silencing or replacing their voice. This is a constant issue in the play”, says Calderón.

—It asks the audience how committed we are as a society to the struggle against prejudice. “The play asks important questions that we don’t always have the answer to. “How much do we know about what we want to defend?” asks academic Sara Rojo - a professor at the Federal University of Minas Gerais and researcher for Brazil’s National Council on Scientific and Technological Development - of Dragón as part of the UC Theater’s Intervention Program. “I support propaganda”, adds Calderón in this same publication. “I refuse to underestimate it. I’m always thinking about my past when, in the seventies and eighties, I used to walk down the streets of Santiago - right in the middle of the dictatorship - and see theatrical propaganda on street corners. It’s poignant to think that theater was being made as a result of what was going on at the time, with the aim of simply getting people to protest and resist”.

—Walter Rodney (1942-1980): Dragón makes several references to this intellectual, born in Guyana in 1942. As an anticolonial historian, capitalist system critic and one of the most important figures in the Black Power movement in the Caribbean, his academic interests were as important as his commitment to exploited groups and the Caribbean community of African descendance. To him, these were the two great powers that could lead a revolution and change the system. He was murdered in an attack in 1980, after several year’s persecution for being a possible subversive.

—Invisible theater: This is another of the forms of representation referred to in the play. It occupies open spaces - the street, a mall - to recreate a fictional story in a real context. In other words, those who see it don’t know that the people in it are actors. This concept is attributed to Brazilian playwright and theater director, Augusto Boal (1931-2009), who also created the ‘Theater of the Oppressed’ concept.

—Performance: an avant-garde art form in which the play’s medium is the artist’s body and the play itself is made up of the actions this carries out, normally combined with multiple other elements such as the visual arts, music, dance and theater. It’s one of the art forms that transformed art in the middle of the twentieth century.

—Installation: a contemporary art genre that prioritizes ideas more than formalities; in other words, the piece’s set and form are at the service of the specific concept the artist wants to explore. Objects are used, spaces intervened with and elements organized according to an infinite selection of physical, visual or sound-related mediums, like photography, videos or performance, in order to make the audience reflect on or feel certain things.

—Guillermo Calderón and Carla Zúñiga talk about their plays performed as part of Teatro Hoy 2019 on Teatroamil.tv

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