After the success of his work Fe de Ratas, the Teatro La María work has become an amazing piece of the national scene. Alexis Moreno (41), founder, director, and dramatist of the society, states that this triumph is due to that his installations don’t look for capturing the audience and much less giving moral classes. “thrilling and being patronizing is typical of bad theater”, he thinks.
“You should study theater”, a classmate said to Alexis after showing a work for Language subject. He answered that he didn’t like it, he found it boring and far from reality. However, after reading Edipo Rey by William Shakespeare, he was fascinated, “right then I decided to study theater. Nevertheless, I didn’t know if I was good, so I entered a workshop and there I realized all the preparation that is needed. Meanwhile I started to watch many works, among them by Raúl Osorio and Alfredo Castro”, he recalls.
Thus, after taking the admission tests, Alexis was selected at the Theater School of the University of Chile. Remind your generation with good eyes, which qualifies as united and very proactive. “For example, the professors who made us act never directed us: one showed the exercise and we criticized ourselves. We also recommended texts or works to study, and we all went to read or to the theater, “he says.
The social context of that time deeply marked their lives and their studies. “Our generation was different. We lived adolescence between democracy and dictatorship, where the enemy was not so clear. We were forced to find a place, and that was the curiosity that marked us. ” Moreno believes that, thanks to that, many of his classmates dared to know other areas of theater beyond interpretation such as writing and editing. Years ago it was unthinkable, according to him, that a recent graduate of the career wrote a script or directed a montage of his own.
Even he began writing in the first year of his career, without any ambition to be a playwright or director. “What most appealed to me about the theater was visuality and corporality, much more than the text itself. Having a good script in a play is not so important compared to the staging of the actors and their elements, “he says.
Teatro La María: challenging paradigms
The arrival of the year 2000 meant a renovation of the theater scene. New companies emerge and ways of seeing the world that put in check more classic models of the profession. La Troppa, the End of the Century Theater, La Memoria Theater and Teatro La María are some of the companies that marked the national scene at the beginning of the century. Moreno fondly remembers those years. “Our first works were related to contexts that were not present in the theater. For example, it was very rare for the middle class to skip: either they were assemblies of great classics or very marginal stories, so we started working there “.
After obtaining the first place in the Víctor Jara Dramaturgy and Direction Festival, organized by his own house of studies, Teatro La María premieres his first work called “El Apocalipsis de Mi Vida”. Inspired by different urban myths of the late eighties, the montage was well appreciated by critics and cataloged as a great example for young Chilean theater.
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The company created by Alexis Moreno and Alexandra Von Hummel experiments with different elements, such as visuality and acting work, in order to create an own stage poetics. “We do not seek to deliver messages or premises, theater does not have to deliver morality, we do not intend to teach anything to anyone, it seems to me that bad theater seeks that: to be paternalistic, to teach the public how to think. the moral superiority of teaching these “ignorant”? What we do in our works is to state what we are asking ourselves and ignorance about certain issues, “he emphasizes.
That is the key to the work of Moreno and the company: the contradiction, the failure and the violence of these passages of our history, where not everything is black and white but constantly changes.
And that’s how his latest trilogy came about: Los Millonarios (2014), El Hotel (2016) y Fe de Ratas (2018), works that visit country views on different national themes, including the Mapuche conflict and the crisis of the Catholic Church. The first montage is inspired by an event that occurred in La Araucanía in 2013 and seeks to contrast the emotive vision of its history. “When I started thinking about Los Millonarios I knew that we had to talk about the conflict, but at the same time I had to transcend it, the conflict exists for something, and it is because of the historical hypocrisy of the country. of the work had to be subject from the other side: the extreme-fascist lawyers who hate Mapuche people, but who have to defend them equally because they are the owners of Chile, “he explains.
These works stand out for their black humor and for having characters that represent different points of view. That is why they do not have proper names in the montage since they do not seek to represent emotions or humanity, but rather the ideas that build our society.
The reception of the audience before this first experiment was varied: many laughed out loud about terrible things, others kept quiet trying to understand what they were seeing, some cried and others simply stopped from their seat and left the function. In the absence of a clear message to be transmitted, more than long texts and historical data relevant to the cause, the public did not know how to respond to a national conflict that advances nothing despite the centuries.
That is the key to the work of Moreno and the company: the contradiction, the failure and the violence of these passages of our history, where not everything is black and white but is constantly changing. In this regard, the playwright has a clear position: “I do not need to be treated as stupid in the theater, and it happens to me that in political theater many works end up being very passive, pamphleteering finally, because they end up being very puritanical”.
Feelings and sensations
How can an artistic work be understood without emotions? Is it possible to abstract from this human element to understand a film, a painting, a book or a play? Alexis thinks that emotion is limiting, deceiving, and that it is even a term that she stopped using when teaching her theater students. He talks about sensation and instincts, more related to the animal and the sense of survival.
“Many people tell us that we do not care about the public, it’s not that we do not care, what happens is that for us the public is people who are at our level or higher: I imagine David Lynch, people the world’s driest in the public, and that requires me to be everything working a certain way, “he reflects. He also believes that emotion is an evil of the human being as it begins to accumulate in us and leaves us without physical reactions.
That does not mean that the emotion must be totally absent. “If you want to tell a simple story, it works very well, that’s the example of all of Hollywood and many works, but it seems to me that the theater is not a place where you have to go to excite no more, the theater is a place that should be more violent, “he says.
Regarding the national scene, Moreno joins the criticisms already known of different actors, actresses and theater workers: little state funding for cultural projects in general, problems with the selection of Fondarts and distribution of profits between companies and theaters.
Account that of 100% of the sale of tickets for a function, 60% of the profits are destined to the company and 40% to the establishments where they mount their work, money that is not invested in advertising or production. “They receive that money just for having borrowed the space and do not worry about anything else, they stay in comfort and there is no real bet.” Within the structure of the theatrical creation there is so much to solve, but one does all the work and it does not give you time to fight, so it’s tiring, that’s why self-management is the resistance to be able to work quietly, “he says.