Viejo, Solo y Puto

Théâtre 140

13, 14, 15/05 – 20:30
16/05 – 18:00
ES > NL / FR
1h 10min

Sergio Boris made his name as an actor alongside Ricardo Bartís, but in recent years has mainly been the pacesetter for a new generation of Argentine theatre. His hyper-realistic theatre brings the audience face-to-face with an unpleasant reality where hopes and desires collide with the difficulty of life in the margins of society. Viejo, Solo y Puto is a trip to the emptiest part of the night. We see five characters in the backroom of a late night pharmacy in the slums of Buenos Aires: two pharmacists, a medical representative and his friends, two transvestites. With lukewarm beer, cold pizza, and all kinds of chemicals, they try to mute the mediocrity of their lives. Behind the exuberance of the party looms a daily struggle against poverty and exploitation. Bodies and minds lose themselves in the chemical labyrinth. Sergio Boris sketches a menacing atmosphere of secret histories and latent violence. Viejo, Solo y Puto is a venomous, touching, dead end.

Text & direction
Sergio Boris

With
Patricio Aramburu, Marcelo Ferrari, Darío Guersenzvaig, Federico Liss, David Rubinstein

Set & costume design
Gabriela A. Fernández

Set & costume assistance
Estefanía Bonessa

Lighting
Matías Sendón

Sound
Fernando Tur

Make up
Gabry Romero

Direction assistance
Jorge Eiro & Adrián Silver

French translation
Christilla Vasserot

Presentation
Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Théâtre 140

Production & promotion
Ligne Directe/Judith Martin

Back to top

For as long as there are men

At dusk on a Saturday night when things are traditionally hotting up, five drop-outs – three men and two transvestites – can be seen surveying a maze of half-empty shelves behind the scenes in a pharmacy on the verge of bankruptcy in a poverty-stricken suburb on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.

On this particular evening, they are drinking to Daniel (David Rubinstein) being awarded his degree after ten years of study, celebrating with a warm beer and a cold Neapolitan pizza. Daniel is the hardworking and well-behaved youngest child, the only seemingly normal one in the family, at last taking over the pharmacy… His father, absent owing to a poker game, is about to go bust and the oldest Evaristo (Darío Guersenzvaig) revealed his resourcefulness a long time ago, entering the black economy by turning the back of the shop into a place for transvestites to inject female hormones.

While Yulia (Marcelo Ferrari), an old streetwalker with the build of a removal man, freshens up after suffering the occupational hazard of cutting her face while shaving, young Sandra (Patricio Aramburu) arranges the fringe of her wig between a couple of domestic arguments with her pimp Claudio (Federico Liss) who claims to work as a sales rep in a large pharmaceutical laboratory. All of them are hoping to persuade Daniel to maintain the status quo, leaving them to quietly take what they want from the stock of amphetamines and continuing to give them credit for the supply of wonderful injections that transform Yulia and Sandra’s bodies into utopian creations.

A trash comedy and descent into the seedy underbelly of Argentine transvestite nights, Sergio Boris’s play reconciles the realism of a documentary with a thorough knowledge of drama and a dynamic, almost cinematographic approach, editing the script in such a way that the dramatic tension moves from scene to scene.

This is not completely unexpected given that Sergio Boris enjoys awardwinning success as an actor, writer and director.

Director Ricardo Bartís, the ambassador of the new South American theatre scene, introduced Europe to Sergio Boris the actor at international festivals in plays such as El pecado que no se puede nombrar (1998) and La Pesca (2008).

However this is only skimming the surface of a man who has also been developing his cinema career by starring in films by Argentine directors such as Paula de Luque (Juan y Eva, 2011), Daniel Burman (El abrazo partido, 2004, for which he won the best actor award at the Tandil film festival), Ariel Rotter (Solo por hoy, 2001) and Luis Zembrowski (Marginal, 1997).

When it comes to Sergio Boris, you have to realise that it is hard to keep up with everything that he does. He staged Bohemia in 2001 (a play that won the top award from the Fondo Nacional de las Artes in 1998), and El perpetual Socorro and El sabor de la derrota in 2004 (the latter winning top prize at the Festival Internacional de Buenos Aires).

Created in 2012, Viejo, Solo y Puto is no exception. The play won three awards from the Grupo de Estudios de Teatro Iberoamericano y Argentino: Sergio Boris won best director, Gabriela A. Fernández best stage design and David Rubinstein best actor.

Without it being unique to him, the working method invented by Sergio Boris remains exemplary, creating a theatre with the ambition of using bursts of reality as meaningful markers to reinforce the motifs of the fiction through a fierce process of osmosis. Building up experiences with his small group of actors, the writer and director is not content with fashionably saying that he is a “writer for the stage”. While the project is developed during improvisation sessions, this merely forms the basis for bringing the team together before they leave the protected space of the rehearsal venue to embark on investigations in the field, taking them to places frequented by drug users and prostitutes’ clients: an in vivo report enabling them to use realistic dialogue and reveal the day-to-day challenges of this alternative world that is never remotely caricatured.

Echoing the poisonous world of Ettore Scola’s 1976 film Ugly, Dirty and Bad, Sergio Boris’s play, Viejo, Solo y Puto, (Old, Alone and a Whore) is like a dedication to terrible 1970s Italian comedies. The perfect escape for documentary theatre: while drawing inspiration from observing a bunch of people who only come out at night, it is a pretext for revealing a world as pure as that of young girls in romance novels dreaming of a great love… Except here, it unfolds between two sordid tricks performed in a car park full of exhausted lorry drivers.

In the end, the product is a hybrid jigsaw-like construction in which each element finds its place in an ideal equilibrium. Ultra-sophisticated theatre on which extremes cling to reality with the ambiance played out against the threats of a Pinteresque plot while the stifling set behind closed doors unfolds in the confinement of a space only Kafka could dream up. An object as decadent as it is sublime, as cultivated and literary as it is elliptical, this play is an expert piece of work, a gem delivered by an exceptional company of actors. In the invention of this touching company of people, fuelling their fantasies in the lunar reflections of dirty gutter water, Sergio Boris is making a sensational entrance onto Europe’s stages.

Patrick Sourd

Back to top

The film, television and theatre actor Sergio Boris is also a director and dramaturge. Widely known in Latin America and a winner of numerous awards there, he is relatively unknown in Europe. Sergio has acted in productions by Ricardo Bartís, particularly at Avignon, including the mythical El Pecado Que No Se Puede Nombrar and more recently La Pesca. Although he has written plays, he rarely directs them, preferring to stage and re-write his texts in rehearsals and so affirming the extent to which “the actor is at the heart of theatre". Having spent many years working alongside Ricardo Bartís, there is meticulousness in his theatre language and his manner of directing actors in the plays he writes, all in the service of a social and political metaphor. In 2011he created his fourth show Viejo, Solo y Puto,defined as “an object as decadent as it is sublime, as cultivated and literary as it is elliptical (...) A gem of expertise delivered by an exceptional group of actors”.

Back to top