Tag Archives: Theater

Beginning My Research in Lima, Peru: Performance as a Memorialization

Reategui_Peru_Yuyachkani

I came to Peru to conduct research with Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani, a popular theater group based in Lima. In fusing aesthetic and theatrical activity with collective memory, Yuyachkani’s performances, such as Rosa Cuchillo, Adíos Ayacucho, and Antígona, address issues of memory and trauma after Peru’s internal armed conflict primarily between the Peruvian government and the members of the Marxist-Maoist organization, Sendero Luminoso.

During my first week in Lima I met with Juan Carlos Buezo de Manzanedo Reategui, a lawyer who worked as a volunteer on the Final Report of the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was presented in 2003. As part of his work, Juan Carlos, along with other young lawyers, traveled to some of the villages most affected by the internal armed conflict and worked closely with the victims in order to collect testimonies. Meeting with Juan Carlos and discussing his work with Peru’s TRC made me think not only about the importance of remembering and memory after trauma, but the ways in which we, as a society, remember. Processes of memorialization, trabajos de memoria, and truth gathering are numerous, and I find myself wondering whether one type of memory project is more effective than another (i.e. formal documentation vs. other forms of memorialization, such as museum or art exhibitions and performances) or if they complement each other.

In Quechua, Yuyachkani means “I am thinking, I am remembering”; therefore, I hope to ask some of Yuaychkani’s actors how embodied performance serves as a memory recuperation project. For instance, how does a performance like Antígona reflect this idea of “I am remembering”—active memorialization?

Posted by Lorena Reategui – MA Candidate at CLACS

Theater as a Tool

Reategui - Peru - Palacio de GobiernoI have been working closely with Augusto Boal’s “Theatre of the Oppressed” to help contextualize the importance of popular theater and its techniques with my research. In the foreword to his book, Boal writes that popular theater functions as a weapon. That is, popular theater is a tool, a “weapon of liberation” against sources of domination (ix). Boal writes that popular theater fundamentally changes some of the theatrical forms established by traditional theater. In applying Boal’s concepts on popular theater to my research with Yuyachkani’s Antígona, I see how this particular one-woman performance also serves as a tool. In this case, Antígona is a tool not only to remember, but also to make a political statement. In my first blog, I talked about the existence of various forms of memorialization (truth commissions, museums, and performance). Along with this, there also exist different memories, sometimes conflicting. There is not one, sole memory of the internal armed conflict. It may be a result of the same event, but the way one remembers and what they remember is based on certain experiences. Antígona specifically triggers the memory of women who had members of their family disappeared and the struggle in demanding proper burials for their unburied dead. In fact, Teresa Ralli revealed that her portrayal of Antígona was based directly on a group of eight or nine women, whom she later invited individually to share their experiences and stories with her in Casa Yuyachkani. In the performance, Antígona serves as the embodiment of the fragility and power in these women’s testimonies.

Continue reading