Mil quinientos metros sobre el nivel de Jack

Different locations in the city

Theatre
Mil quinientos metros sobre el nivel de Jack
8, 9 10/05 > 20:30
11/05 > 22:00
12/05 > 15:00 & 20:30
Théâtre 140
Language: Spanish
Subtitles: FR & NL
[klokje]: 1:00

Film
A film by Federico León
13/05 > 13:00 (première)
Cinéma/Bioskoop Nova
16, 18, 20, 24, 26/05 > 13:00
17, 19, 25/05 > 18:00
23/05 > 21:00

Cosy Media
Language: Spanish
Subtitles: EN
[klokje]: +/- 65’

What are they all doing in this bathroom? Two women who have lost their husbands and two fatherless sons plunge into their grief, time and again. Federico León has written a funny, sweet and suffocating drama on the intensely close relationship between mothers and sons. In Argentina, he is part of the young, dynamic generation involved in the small independent companies that have grown in number in Buenos Aires without the help of subsidies. His play does not confront the tragedy of the disappeared. It immerses itself in the uneasy aftermath of a father, who is a deep-sea diver, no longer being there, using the concrete, incongruous and disconcerting metaphor of water – literally! In his rather more tragic film, there is another relationship, this time one between lovers. The man and the woman, framed together in close-up, go through their break-up in cafés. The more they attempt to get further apart, the more they attract and hurt each other...

Mil quinientos metros sobre el nivel de Jack

Texte et mise en scène/Tekst en regie/Text and direction: Federico León

Acteurs/Actors: Carla Crespo, Diego Jose Ferrando, Ignacio Rogers, Beatriz Thibaudin

Assistant à la mise en scène/Regie-assistent/Assistant to the director: Marianela Portillo

Scénographie/Scenografie/Scenography: Ariel Vaccaro

Eclairages/Lichtontwerp/Lighting design: Alejandro Le Roux

Technicien lumières/Lichttechnicus/Light technician: Gianni Scopa Musique et création sonore/Muziek en klankontwerp/Music and sound design: Carmen Baliero

Photographie/Fotografie/Photography: Guillermo Arengo

Assistant de production pour les festivals/Productie-assistent voor festivals/Assistant director for festivals: Tatiana Saphir

Remerciements à/Met dank aan/Thanks to: Holland Festival (sous-titres/ondertitels/subtitles)

Production/Productie/Production: Teatro Municipal General San Martin

Avec le soutien de/Met de steun van/Supported by: Dirección General de Asuntos Culturales de la Cancillería Argentina

Présentation/Presentatie/Presentation: Théâtre 140, KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

A film by Federico León

Scénario et réalisation/Scenario en regie/Script & direction: Federico León

Assistants du réalisateur/Regie-assistenten/Assistants to the Director: Martin Mainoli, Camila Brigante

Assistant artistique/Artistiek assistent/Artistic assistant: Tatiana Saphir

Avec/Met/With: Jimena Anganuzzi, Federico León

Décor/Decor/Set Design: Micaela Saiegh

Caméra & Directeur de photographie/Camera & Fotografie directeur/Camera & Director of Photography: Bil Nieto

1e assistants Caméra/ Camera 1e assistenten/ Camera 1st assistants : Magdalena Ripa Alsina, Cecilia Zanatta (remplaçant/vervangend/replacing)

Directeur electrique/Manager Electriciteit/Electrician Manager : Federico Juarez

Electriciens/Electricians: Guido Lublinsky, Gianni Scopa

Son/Geluid/Sound : Jessica Suarez

Assistant son/geluidsassistent/Sound assistent : Luciano Poggio

Construction décor/Decoropbouw/Set construction : Ariel Vaccaro

Maquillage/ Make up : Hugo España

Producteur délégué/Uitvoerend producent/Executive Producer: Hernán Musaluppi

Directeur de production/Productieleiding/Production Manager: Nicolás Casares

Assistant de production/Productie-assistent/Production assistant: Marianela Portillo, Monica Arista, Sebastián Burecovics

Production/Productie/Production: Rejtman/Musaluppi/León

Coproduction/Coproductie/Coproduction: KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

Avec le soutien de/Met de steun van/Supported by: Dirección General de Asuntos Culturales de la Cancillería Argentina

Présentation/Presentatie/Presentation: KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

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Two thirds of the earth’s surface is covered in water. Some say our seas and oceans are filled with salt tears. Perhaps these streams of tears have lent our blue planet its colour. A woman is waiting for her husband, a deep-sea diver, to return. One day, Jack does not re-surface. His wife immerses herself in grief. With her is an adult son, overwhelmed by her suffering. Suddenly, into their lives comes a young woman with her eleven-year-old son – a boy who also saw his father board a boat, never to return. Since then he has had a fear of water. The four of them get their breath back on land for a while, but can they breathe 1,500 metres above where Jack is? Is it possible to move beyond such a chasm, such an abyss, created by the absence of a father? Mil quinientos metros sobre el nivel de Jack was written and created in Buenos Aires, Argentina, by 26-year-old Federico León.

“I wanted to work with the idea of water as literally as possible”, explains Federico. “The first thing we did with the actors was to explore the unlimited metaphors of water, and then we wondered how we could use them realistically. It was a natural choice to set the play in a bathroom.” The mother spends most of her time in a swimming costume in a bath of increasingly cold water. She regularly immerses herself, submerges herself. Her son, wearing a diving suit, joins her. “I don’t like things to be too literary in theatre. When I write, I never consider the work to be finished. It’s a draft to be changed by being on stage and moulded into its final form. It carries away the writing into a ‘deranged’ state, turning it on stage into the present, a force of ‘reality’.” And there’s nothing more real than this!

In Mil quinientos, the mother has literally chosen to live in her bath. She draws her compassionate son to it, invites Lisa, his fiancée, to join them, and little Enso who will confront his fear of water. Theatrical metaphors usually draw the concrete towards the abstract. This metaphor of the bathroom evokes the state of health of the characters’ minds. And it works! The physical presence of water becomes the elusive presence of the missing person and of fading memory – water soaking them to the skin, wetting their faces, no longer being used for washing but for contaminating people and everything they touch with an uncomfortable dampness; sloshing water overflowing, no longer containable; water that ends up threatening their safety, saturating the floorboards as it creeps nearer the cable of a silent television set with a blue screen that allows only the unchanging colour of calm water to filter in from the world outside.

The production has been well received in Buenos Aires. Argentinian critics have read a disconcerting allegory into it – “a summary of our history and the anguish we now feel”. Federico León is keen to point out: “I don’t do political theatre, I’m not interested in moral or psychological conflicts, but in the tensions that can arise from acting and acting situations. My theatre is first and foremost an actor’s theatre relying on actors’ resources. I can’t bear established theatrical conventions, I feel trapped by them – the curtain, the distance between the stage and the audience, the artifices, the text locked into being explicit, their acting accentuated towards the audience. I prefer to draw the audience into the work’s core.” Mil quinientos is played to an audience of 60 who are practically sitting in the bathroom with the actors. It is like being in a close-up, the audience amidst the action. They can hear everything – splashing, pipes gurgling, shouting and whispering.

Federico León studied dramaturgy at the Escuela Municipal de Arte Dramático in Buenos Aires. First concentrating on acting, then writing and directing, he also studied film-making for two years at the Escuela de Cine CIEVYC. However, most of what he has learned has come from experience, sharing the work of other theatre groups in Buenos Aires before beginning his own projects. “It’s not easy finding places in Buenos Aires where you can perform a premiere. There are places, but it’s very hard to stay there long term. I’m an actor. I started writing for myself, then directing what I had drafted on paper. For me, writing and directing are not separate activities in the work I do. The creation’s final form is determined on stage with the actors, incorporating their suggestions. Their work modifies what I have written.”

On the Argentinian theatrical scene, León belongs to alternative theatre, ‘the third circuit’. “The first circuit is commercial theatre, the second is national and municipal theatres, such as the Teatro San Martin or the Teatro Cervantes, which are subsidised by the state. Then there’s all the rest, many of which survive without a penny of public money. To address this, a theatre institute was set up three years ago, but it quickly ran out of money and lots of small theatres have folded. All the same, Buenos Aires is a city where a huge number of projects are being created for growing audiences. These are projects where everyone does a bit of everything – writing, directing, scenery…”

Mil quinientos came together over a period of a year, using a real bathtub. “Initially, the scenery was an artistic idea. Later it was easier to rehearse in a real bathroom than to have one made.” All normal use of the bathroom was banned. Mil quinientos invalidates reality because its characters are incapable of confronting it. Is this maternal bath a placebo for the placenta? Maybe for the son it is the bosom of his family, as tender as it is suffocating. Doubtless for the mother it’s a place of refuge and escape from the present. For Enso it is a threat. Far from being a destructive ‘El Niño’-type force of nature, the bathroom metaphor is an unusual tidal wave nonetheless – risible, absurd and hilarious. And what if these submerged people had the daring notion of emerging from the bathroom to live a little?

León apparently likes transferences (where a proven affective state for an object is redirected to a different object, by virtue of association). When he creates theatre he is in the cinema and when doing films he is at the heart of theatre. At the Festival, the director will also be showing his first film, still untitled, the scenario for which came from a year of theatrical improvisations amongst actors. It was shot entirely in cafés in Buenos Aires, a public peregrination for one of the most intimate of relationships. A couple – León and Jimena Anganuzzi – are splitting up. No one else can be seen on film. The camera envelops their goodbyes, their conversations, their telephone calls, focusing first on one, then on the other. Close up. The changes in place, time of day and atmosphere – be it in a snack bar or nightclub – can be seen on their faces. The decision is not theirs – it is influenced by their parents, supported by them. She does not want to split up and struggles to control her feelings. He does not help her. The subjective way they are framed for the film forces them to be together, these two people who cannot speak without doing themselves harm, who cannot touch each other without committing violence. John Cassavetes once said, “a slap is an embrace gone wrong.” This couple find themselves in an intensely close embrace…

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