• Theater


By Compañía de Teatro Viola Fénix | Directed by Guillermo Ward


  • Spanish
  • 40 minutes
  • +10 años

A theatrical tribute to poet Iris di Caro Castillo from Iquique who died during the pandemic, this is an emotional send-off that highlights her work and celebrates her life.

Khuyai. Amor, amada amar is a theatrical homage in times of confinement to the life, career and work of poet Iris di Caro Castillo from Iquique (1926-2020). It uses her own work, highlighting and pointing out the things of value in the Tarapacá Region: its geography, pampa, ancestors and dark-skinned people.

In September 2020, the rate of infection in Iquique was high and quarantine, a curfew and vehicle circulation restrictions were in place. At this time, a group of local actors from three theater companies (Viola Fénix, Perro Andante and Saltimbanqui) - who only knew each other to say hello to - got together via Zoom to work on and create a different and complex piece of theater while avoiding in-person contact. Guillermo Ward, an actor, playwright and director with many years of experience enthusiastically arranged this meeting to present them to Iris Di Caro, an unknown poet from Iquique who passed away - during the pandemic when there were restrictions on funerals and wakes - after living a full life.

This is how the group got to know each other and each company created and contributed using their particular specialty: puppet theater, shadow theater and acting, all through the dynamic lens of Zoom. The playwright compiled and connected Iris’ poems and work into a poetic mosaic about life itself and love for the earth and for ancestral cultures, all backed up by the ‘vigilant cactus’ - Iris’ husband and her greatest supporter who, aged 98, is still collecting unseen material for a new publication, ‘Keep Singing, Mother, Keep Singing’.

Cast and crew

Cast: Karina Vega, Constanza Lupallante, José Luis Ortega, Félix Manzo, Nicolás Vergara | Music: Salomón Marabolí | General director, playwright and set, costume and lighting designer: Guillermo Ward | Audiovisual recordings: Jordán Ampuero.

© Alexander Tolmo

Guillermo Ward

Director and playwright

Theater, education, psychology

Born in Iquique with both a university and artistic education and a career spanning 50 years, his work as a cultural consultant has seen him get involved with the theater, education and psychology, specializing as a teacher, psychologist and psychodramatist. In 2017, the Institute of Chile made him a Corresponding Performing Arts Member of the Chilean Academy of Fine Arts.

Between 1974-2002, he was a pioneering member of the historic TIUN-TENOR Theater Group at the University of the North (Iquique campus), where he worked as an actor and also designed sets, costumes and lighting for different productions by this and other local companies. In 1991, he created and directed the Compañía de Teatro Viola Fénix, dealing with relevant and inclusive issues and involving youngsters with Down’s Syndrome in their latest productions (El aprendiz de sonrisas, El buen día de los niños mariposas). At the same time, he studied spontaneous theater in 2013, creating Colectivo Zeta Chile and taking part in Latin American forums and events related to psychodrama and participative theater in Cuba, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Uruguay and Argentina.

As a playwright, he’s premiered 30 plays and published 15 books about the history of regional theater, including theater for infants, spontaneous theater, outstanding consultants and theater venues in Tarapacá, all of which are available in the country’s public libraries.

–Its novel format was created especially for ZOOM, which makes it a pandemic creation that will be long remembered in local theater history. The story takes on the form of a theatrical audiovisual poem, commemorating the life of this northern poet and mixing biographical details of Iris’s life with outstanding fragments of her work.

–It’s emotional in the way only a play created during a pandemic can be. Given the conditions the country was in when Iris died, it was impossible to commemorate her life and work properly. This play is a tribute to her life and a way of saying goodbye to her.

–It’s a way for younger generations who don’t yet know about her prolific career to find out more about Iris Di Caro.

Iris Di Caro Castillo: Born in 1926 in Iquique, she studied at teaching college in Antofagasta, graduating in 1946. She went to work at the school at the saltpeter offices, where she began writing poetry, short stories and theater plays, encouraging a love of art among her students. Inspired by the pampa, she continued doing both and when she returned to work in Iquique, she gave art and literature classes at several schools. She was part of the team that set up the Violeta Parra Artistic School in 1971. Her theater plays have been performed by different local companies. She was named an Illustrious Daughter of Iquique, composed the hymn for the Arturo Prat University and authored a vast body of work on topics related to the Andean world. She died on March 25 2020, aged 93.

Watch Dr. Bernardo Guerrero Jiménez’ interview with Iris Di Caro for the Arturo Prat University in 2003.

Take a look at the websites of the companies that took part in this creation: Viola Fénix, Perro andante and Saltimbanqui.

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