Ojos de Ciervo Rumanos

Théâtre L'L
3.8.10/05 > 20:30
4/05 > 15:00
9/05 > 22:00
Fr > Ondertiteling: Nl

“We are survivors on the verge of a scandal,” she says. Beatriz Catani has written and is staging a play of her own Ojos de Ciervo Rumanos (Eyes of a Romanian deer), a metaphor for her present-day native Argentina.

The remains of a plantation. Drowned deer on the paths. Ailing nature. A girl born of her father’s thigh. He waters her and cares for her as if she were an orange tree. She is searching for the song of her dead mother, a Romanian woman with different colored eyes. Packed with ancient myths, Ojos reels off the strange transformations of a distressing and alienating search for identity. An unsettled metaphor...

Text & Direction:

Beatriz Catani

Assistant to the Director:

Jazmín García Sathicq

Actors:

Ricardo González, Paula Ituriza, Blas Arrese Igor

Set Design:

Beatriz Catani, Andrea Schvartzman

Lighting:

Gonzalo Córdova

Music:

Carmen Balliero

Technical production:

Margarita Dillon

Coproduction:

Teatro General San Martín (Buenos Aires),Theaterformen 2002 (Hannover)

Presentation:

L'L, KunstenFESTIVALdesArts

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“We are survivors on the verge of a scandal”, says Beatriz Catani, La Plata, Argentine.
The remains of a plantation. Drowned deer on the paths. Ailing nature.
A girl born of her father’s thigh. He waters her and cares for her as if she were an orange tree. She is searching for the song of her dead mother, a Romanian woman with eyes of different colours.
Packed with ancient myths, Ojos de ciervos rumanos
(Eyes of a Romanian Deer)
reels off the strange transformations of a distressing and alienating search for identity.


What was it exactly that you experienced, read or saw that triggered off the idea behind your creation?

The question seems simple, but it isn’t at all. I’m not actually sure that I can answer it. I was actually stimulated by several elements simultaneously. Ojos combines my personal experience and more diffuse perceptions of some ancient Greek myths (particularly Bacchae by Euripides). These elements have merged intuitively.

Perhaps the images and associations that appeared to me while reading Euripides made me understand that I wanted to do something around the beginning, birth, woman’s main identity and a country’s political identity.

Yes, my own experience was in it at the start, but that doesn’t mean that this work is autobiographical. But it does recreate feelings and perceptions I have experienced myself.

I say ‘recreating’ because I’ve tried formally to invent a theatrical reality that doesn’t either represent or reproduce real life. I’ve looked for an intense relationship between reality and fiction. It has taken concrete form in a real space: natural plants, fruit juice, the ‘real’ use of bodies, etc. But the story is pure fiction, an extreme fiction with a fantastical feel to it. I looked for a ‘reality’ suitable for theatre without leaning too much on action, generating a poetic link between the characters and the context.

Is the project positioned literally or metaphorically in the context of the society in which you live?

I only really understood the meaning behind Ojos after events that recently happened in my country. The premiere for Ojos was on 26 December 2001, some 20 metres from the epicentre of the crisis: the Obelisk in Buenos Aires. Preparations for it had been going on for a year. At the same time my father was struggling to save his business which had fed our family for years.

At the time we weren’t then aware of the difficulty we had in understanding our country and the paradoxical and ambivalent way in which we saw ourselves. Consequently the metaphorical levels in Ojos were still invisible. They only became obvious later.

Ojos evokes a family with a splendid past. It had placed all its confidence in the ‘blessed’ earth of its country and now this earth is reduced to an apartment where just a few plants are alive and they are drying out because of a pest. This pest progresses until it makes the father, the farmer, fail. Ojoshandles the ambiguities and the views encountered: two arguments are superimposed on it, two countries, two mothers, two children.

In the context of the Argentine crisis the play took on another twist, its metaphor began to breathe differently:

1. Impoverishment, asphyxia and the permanent reduction of space and meaning: The future as an idea of reduction: plantations reduced to orange trees in pots. The mother reduced to one eye. Childbirth to menstruation. The catastrophe of a fire to a pest. The needs of man to the obsession for food. The last space: a woman’s breast (daughter-mother-sister). The present? A reduced, damaged time, occupied by the past.

2. The view that we Argentines have on things. A paradoxical view that reflects a badly organised identity, even in times of crisis.

For the daughter, the ‘mother’, the great absent one (also associated to the earth), is a totally idealised Romanian singer. For the son, she’s a drunk. For the father, she’s a stubborn and dangerous woman, all the more so because she is foreign. References to Romania are themselves also laden with ambiguity. Romania is an accursed country, yet idealised at the same time, both close and eccentric, incomprehensible for us – just like Argentina.

How is the performing arts scene organised in your country?

On the theatrical landscape, three levels co-exist defined by their degree of subsidy. Based on the laws of supply and demand, commercial theatre offers entertainment. Subsidised by the state, official theatre responds to the criteria of ‘cult’ or ‘serious’ theatre and often presents old, boring plays even if some official theatres – often the poorest – also offer experimental plays. Independent theatre doesn’t depend either on ticket sales or official contracts. It receives assistance from private or international institutions.

It’s at this last level that theatrical experimentation takes place.

These small independent companies attempt to deal with the lack of funds by investigating new possibilities of expression. This doesn’t mean that I’m a believer in a lack of funds – this isn’t where the merit of experimental theatre lies, even though obstinacy and the courage to take risks are commendable characteristics. Because independent theatre also produces plays that don’t ask too many questions, copies of existing models. In others words it’s not because a play takes place outside commercial or official circuits that interesting artistic work is guaranteed.

Where do you fit in this scene?

With independent companies. I worked with the Teatro San Martín for Ojos and some other projects and received some subsidies. But, as I already said, the term ‘independent’ is too general and comprises an enormous range of works of different quality. I prefer the term ‘experimental theatre’ for it, a theatre conducting daring experiments.

I’m trying to work in the town of La Plata, preferably with people who are still not yet part of the established scene. I prefer working on the periphery.

Why have you specifically chosen the theatre as a means of expression?

I don’t really know. I started off by acting and writing stories. One way or another, these two things came together in theatre. What interested me more than anything was the capacity of the actor’s body for communicating. The physical ‘presence’ of the actors and the audience. At the same time I feel in conflict with theatre because theatrical conventions demand too much of the spectator, unlike other disciplines such as cinema for example: a space that ‘isn’t’, a time that ‘isn’t’ either, people who pretend to be someone else. That’s why I’ve recently been trying to reduce the margins of the ‘spectacle’.

What do you consider to be the lowest level of deprivation?

I’d like to answer this question with an image.

Constitución (the train station in Buenos Aires, in the Ramal La Plata zone where I live). A family on the ground. Mother lying on top of the father. They are eating something that I can’t quite see. The baby’s crying in a cardboard box used as a cradle to protect him from the cold.

There’s an infinite number of terrible situations here that I can only understand by using reason as it’s only a very limited zone of consciousness.

‘ Seeing’ or ‘feeling’ impoverishment is a completely different way of understanding things.

That’s why I wanted to describe this image, that’s why everyone must have their own images.

What relationship would you like to establish with the audience?

An intellectual and sensitive communication. I like an active and attentive audience.

In any case, as Tarkovsky said, an image is only powerful when the author and spectator share the same joy and the same difficulty in creating this joy.

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