• Radio theater


Written and directed by Guillermo Calderón


  • Spanish
  • 80 minutes
  • +14

More relevant than ever in the current political and social climate, one of the most important plays from Chile is back as radio theater.

Antón Chekhov’s widow, Olga Knipper, is waiting in a rehearsal room with an actor and actress from their company. It’s 1905 and officials on the streets are breaking up a march against the tsar. This encounter becomes an opportunity to talk about theater’s involvement in history and political violence.

This version of Neva, now in a radio theater format, replicates the play’s original production, premiered in 2006 at the Mori Center. Trinidad González and Paula Zúñiga reprise their roles as Olga Knipper and Masha, while Nicolás Pavez replaces Jorge Becker as Aleko. This recording is not a reading of the text itself, but rather an adaptation of the theater production. The rhythm and movements of the staged version are maintained, even though they’re invisible. Tomás González, composer of Neva’s music, has recorded and produced sounds, creating a space that evokes a rehearsal room. He has also incorporated sound effects and the original score, while making sure that silence and the performances themselves become the piece’s main sources of sound.

Cast and crew

Written and directed by: Guillermo Calderón | Cast: Trinidad González, Paula Zúñiga, Nicolás Pavez | Editing and music: Tomás González | Producer: María Paz González | Audio restoration: Santuario Sónico | Coproduced by: the Teatro a Mil Foundation.

Guillermo Calderón

playwright and director

Theater as resistance

A playwright, scriptwriter and theater director (Santiago, 1971), Calderón is one of the most international figures in contemporary Chilean theater. In 2006, he cofounded Teatro en el Blanco, writing and directing Neva and Diciembre. Then came works such as Clase, Villa, Discurso, Escuela, Kuss, Beben and Mateluna. He directed Beben and Kuss at the Dusseldorf Schauspielhaus; Goldrausch at the Basel Theater and Neva at New York’s Public Theater. His work has been presented in more than 25 countries.

In film, he has worked on the scripts of Violeta se fue a los cielos and Araña by Andrés Wood, as well as El club, Neruda and Ema by Pablo Larraín.

– Whether it’s your first time or not, it’s an opportunity to listen to one of the most acclaimed pieces of Chilean theater from the last 20 years. As director Guillermo Calderón explains, this piece of radio theater records the original story of Neva, adapting the format so it can be listened to.

–Its plot is particularly relevant to Chile right now, with different political and social changes being discussed in the country.

–It’s a chance to hear its stars again after 15 years – outstanding actresses Paula Zúñiga and Trinidad González, joined in this version by actor Nicolás Pavez (Pájaro, En fuga no hay despedida, El golpe).

Neva: The original play by Guillermo Calderón and Teatro en el Blanco was premiered on October 26, 2006 at the Mori Center. This, the group’s debut, gained international fame thanks to its plot, bringing to the stage topics such as the meaning of theater in times of political upheaval and actors’ obligations at times of social change. It has been performed by different casts in several countries, including the United States, Mexico and Argentina. “Really interesting, Neva is well-written and is performed even better”, said theater critic Pedro Labra in El Mercurio.

Anton Chekhov: Born in Russia in 1860, this writer, playwright and doctor was one of the nineteenth century’s most outstanding authors, considered a master storyteller and a role model for Russian theater and of the modern naturalism trend. His work focused on socially critiquing his country prior to the 1905 revolution, with characters creating a story through interactions and reflections, leaving direct action in the wings. As a result, he came up with a wealth of creations that mixed sensitivity, humor and critique. His most well-known plays are The Seagull (1896), Uncle Vanya (1897) and Three Sisters (1901). He died of tuberculosis in Germany in 1904.

Radio theater: This is an art form created through words, sound effects and music that together tell a story that the listener can recreate in detail in their mind. Its golden age globally was in the twenties, thirties and forties, at the height of radio, with its popularity continuing until the seventies in Chile. Worldwide, the most well-known radio theater piece is perhaps The War of the Worlds, written in 1938 by North American actor and director Orson Welles, which tells of an alien invasion’s impact on the world. It was so realistic that it caused widespread panic among its listeners, who thought the news was real, even though the story was based on the novel of the same name by H.G. Wells.

Radio theater in Chile: According to the Memoria Chilena site, the first radio theater piece in Chile was transmitted in 1932 on the now-defunct Universo station. It was called La enemiga and starred Maruja Cifuentes and Carlos Justiniano. Normally broadcast at midday, these stories were usually melodramatic and aimed at a female audience although, in the following decades and until 1970, radio theater was also fertile terrain for comedies and even suspense. Hogar dulce hogar, Residencial La Pichanga, La bandita de Firulete and the memorable Radiotanda with actress Ana González playing the part of ‘La Desideria’ were emblematic of their times. The most famous ones in the terror genre were El doctor Mortis and Lo que cuenta el viento.

Further information

-Take a look at the record-blog of the original performance of Neva in 2006.

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