El pecado que no se puede nombrar

Théâtre 140

20, 23, 24 Mei/Mai/May 20:30
21 Mei/Mai/May 15:00
26 Mei/Mai/May 23:00
Duur/Durée/Duration: 1:20
Taal/Langue/Language: Spaans/espagnol/Spanish
Simultaanvertaling/Traductions simultanée/Simultaneous translation: Nl & Fr
Duur/Durée/Duration: 1:20

Robert Arlt's novels (1900-1942) have only been widely available in Europe since 1981, much later than the work of his contemporary Jorge Luis Borges. The Seven Madmen, followed by The Flame-Throwers, is considered to be the masterpiece of urbane Argentinian literature. Ricardo Bartís, one of the most talented in new theatre in Argentina, has condensed them for the stage with his amazing acting group, Sportivo Teatral. El pecado que no se puede nombrar takes place during the crisis years. Where do you turn when the frustration of being nothing, and especially being crushed by everyone, shatters you to the core? In a dark cellar, Arlt's seven madmen hatch an outrageous global plot. Bartís has created a powerful and feverish piece of theatre for them, a black and grotesque thriller.

Naar/D'après/Based on: Roberto Arlt, Los siete locos & Los lanzallamas
Tekst en regie/Texte et mise en scène/Text and direction: Ricardo Bartís
Regieassistent/Assistant à la mise en scène/Assistant to the director: Laura Aprá
Acteurs/Actors: Sergio Boris, Alejandro Catalán, Gabriel Feldman, Luis Herrera, Fernando Llosa, Luis Machín, Alfredo Ramos
Muziek/Musique/Music: Carmen Baliero
Licht/Eclairage/Lighting: Jorge Pastorino
Kostuums/Costumes: Gabriela Fernández
Scenografie/Scénographie/Scenography: Norberto Laino
Technisch Directeur/Régisseur général/Technical Director: Ricardo Félix Pérez
Fotograaf/Photographe/Photographer: Andrés Barragán
Productie/Production: El Sportivo Teatral (Buenos Aires)
Met dank aan/Remerciements à/Special thanks to: Theater der Welt (Berlin '99)
Presentatie/Présentation/Presentation: Théâtre 140, KunstenFESTIVALdesArts
Met de steun van/Avec le soutien de/Supported by: Commercio internacional y culto (Buenos Aires)

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"Born the lowest of the low, like worms, in Buenos Aires and rejected by the collective hypocrisy that shuts and locks doors in their faces, the seven madmen come up with a vague plan to create a secret society. It is to be funded by profits from brothels with the aim of causing revolution in their country and the world at large. Incapable of bringing about revolution, one after another these seven delirious people destroy themselves through crime and profound insanity. However, like a dribble of phosphorescent spittle, their journeys outline the denunciation of a social order that created them and now knows only how to crush them. Modern writers like Rodolfo Walsch provide an indisputable example for all Argentinian people today who want a country free from scum. With great foresight, the figure and work of Roberto Arlt (1900-1942) send us a message that contains our entire current situation."

These are the words of Julio Cortázar who wrote the preface to Roberto Arlt's The Seven Madmen, a mythical novel and the masterpiece of urbane literature in Argentina. A contemporary of Jorge Luis Borges, it took many years for Roberto Arlt to be known in Europe. Until 1981 his work had not been translated. What's more, he lived on the gloomy edge of Portena society, and was himself stifled by this ‘zone of anxiety' that alters his characters' perception and reason. "I am greatly attracted by beauty. How often have I wanted to work on a novel containing panoramic backdrops like Flaubert's! But now, hearing the creaking of a crumbling social edifice, it's no longer possible to think of doing embroidery. So we have to create our literature, in proud solitude, by writing books that will contain the violence of a hooked jaw." Arlt was fascinated by Raskolnikov, the shady murderous victim in Crime and Punishment. The cauldron of his writing and the tormented substance of his characters attain the same feverish intensity as Dostoyevsky's. "His prose is subject to such pressure that there's a risk of it exploding" is what his French translators say. Seventy years after the book was written, Ricardo Bartís, one of the most radical men of theatre in Buenos Aires, together with his theatre group ironically called Sportivo Teatral, is staging a furious and invigorating adaptation of The Seven Madmen and its sequel The Flame-throwers.

"In 1998 we Argentinians live in a country where the machinery of power grinds enormously. I feel a lot of anger and hatred when I think of my murdered friends, of the damage caused to my country by the military, of the fear they inflicted upon us, when I see mass murderers walking around in civilian clothes with impunity. I can't lead a calm life or produce peaceful and comforting work. The situation we live in pushes us to seek out new languages. Theatre and politics have as their weapon the lie of representation. But theatre doesn't kill. The lie is poetic and lasts only until the curtain falls. Arlt's novels are visionary. He has been heightening the connections in the grating foundations of today's society since the 1930s - power and money, truth and pretence, madness and politics."

Ricardo Bartís works in an old renovated studio, some way from the centre of Buenos Aires. It is a place to work at acting and experimentation. Without being tied to a particular perspective of creation, scripts are read there, discussed and their many meanings explored. Moving from the written word to the physical act that carries it must disturb the conscience, which is why the actors resort to improvisation in rehearsals. "Acting is an heretical experience, a revolutionary activity running counter to a dehumanised society." To put flesh on Arlt's words, the seven actors concentrated on the idea of combustion and condensation. Their space for movement is limited to four square metres, a dark cellar where their actions and reactions precipitate in the almost chemical sense of ‘precipitation', turning solids into liquids. They are amazing actors. On stage they are also musicians, playing the instruments they learned to play during rehearsals. The characters of pathetic and lunatic conspirators have been transposed onto the actors' bodies. They are unattractive, cramped, agitated, sweaty, tragically zany and intensely present. Their energy is so concentrated that there is some premonition of the final explosion. They are furious, sorrowful and ridiculous. Bartís' intention was to construct a grotesque epic condemned to failure, a sort of black thriller crossed with parody. He has succeeded.

Ricardo Bartís has not created a literal adaptation of Arlt - an impossible feat in any case. He brings to the stage Arlt's lunatic atmosphere, turmoil and sweat. He reorients the overlapping narratives towards the cellar where members of the secret society meet. He breathes life into the exchanges of their personal anguish about things ideological, religious, existential and sentimental. Emphasising the absence of women in the piece, Bartís puts it down to the male powerlessness contained in the novel. Unhealthily obsessed with purity, the seven madmen build their revolution on three foundations: enslaving the soul of the masses and especially the young, using prostitution as a source of income, and transforming oneself into a psychic hermaphrodite to dominate the unquenched urges that torture them as much as their misery. The methods they dream of bear certain similarities both to Stalin's purges and Hitler's genocide, in a whirl of communist theories and extreme fascist thinking with a bit of messianic fanaticism thrown in. Is it their persecuted distress or their persecuting cynicism that suggested the title of the piece, El pecado que no se puede nombrar, the sin that has no name, the unmentionable?

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