Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Creative Juices

I apologize for not having posted earlier this past week. I've started working on a couple of new things and one of them has been helping out with a play as a lines prompter (in Spanish). While prompting lines in another language may seem like a crazy thing for me to be doing, it has turned out to be an amazing experience, as well as excellent Spanish practice.

So, I got this gig through my very cool Spanish teacher, who aside from being a kind of personal guide to life here in Buenos Aires (she not only teaches me Spanish, but shows me where to shop, how to cook Argentine dishes, how to deal with difficult people/social situations...I am very lucky to have found her), is always working on something interesting. A few weeks ago she spent the week working for Sabastian Bach (Skid Row opened for Guns and Roses...a concert that I went to by the way), and right now she is directing this play, which is called Chingoil Compani by Jorge Accame. When she suggested that I work as her assistant, she explained that the script might be a bit of a challenge because the play takes place in Jujuy, a northwestern province in Argentina, and that I might find some of the dialect a "bit difficult".

And that has been...while ploughing through it with my husband, a true porteƱo, I couldn't even count on him for definitions of everything. It's worth the effort, however, trying to figure out what everything means, because it's incredibly funny. It's a story about a poor couple getting ready for the big carnival celebration in their neighborhood when they find oil in the back of their property. What ensues is essentially a big piss up, where they proceed to drink 30 bottles of a kind of home brew called chicha because they need the bottles to put the oil in. It is hilarious and the actors do a great job. There is everything from water balloon fights to an imagined phone discussion with JR Ewing of Dallas (see video).

I guess what has struck me the most working on this play, is the creativity and resourcefulness of the Argentinians working on it. There is one director, four actors, and a costume designer (and me), and it is really impressive to see how much a small group can do. Now I know that theatre people the world through often don't have a lot of resources to work with, but I am always delighted by how little you need to create a performance that can be very captivating. Just the other day I was on the subway, when a couple of actors started a small performance in my subway car - they managed to capture everyone's attention in about three seconds and a long boring ride was transformed into a trip to the theatre. You really don't need much, and it's been quite something to see the people working on this play pool together to make things work.

When I started working on the play, practices took place in the very cool home of one of the actors, on a top floor that he usually rents out to an artist. This past week we practiced in the theatre where performances will take place, in the basement of a restaurant called La Clac (see photos). It's one of those classic Buenos Aires places, with lots of stuff on the walls, historical and eclectic, and the theatre, with its vintage seating and movie posters, is charming.

I've had my days working in theatre...I started doing plays in junior high, died my hair red to play Annie in my high school production, and eventually did my first degree in theatre and music . Eventually I got involved in other things and I suppose theatre just fell by the wayside. I had forgotten the joy of it all, the satisfaction of watching a production move from mere lines to being stage ready, the anticipation you feel when the lights go up on the stage, and how great i it is when the actors really deliver a zinger of a line. Or perhaps more recently I've been frightened away by my neighbor's vocalizations (see previous post), but it's been great to be involved in a production again. And I wasn't even scared off by their vocalizations! (see video)

In any case, if you are reading this and are in Buenos Aires, you should definitely go see the play. It is very funny, even if you don't catch all the dialect. Click on the link for info on where and when it playing - the first performance is a week from Sunday.

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