The Archives

 

My archives are the General Archives of the Nation, and they are housed in a colonial era building in the center of Lima, old Lima. Though the entrance is a very elegant and you walk through a very picturesque arcade full of small merchants selling small things– once you enter the archive the romance is over. No air-conditioning, no ventilation, no windows.  It’s a cardboard type room with one single fan fixed and pointed a young man dressed in heavy clothes and an overcoat that’s required by the administration. But the archivist is a young woman and she is cool and comfortable, I don’t know how.   She helped me navigate the computers, and she appears occasionally with ancient folios that I’ve requested and helps me find my way to the pages I need to see. She is the one who saw my photographs from Philadelphia and looked with me into the folio where I discovered three pages were torn out and with my documentation was able to prove that my three pages are the missing three pages it was a pretty remarkable moment. She brought me to meet the director and I don’t know if the director knows what she’s doing—A woman with so much make up that her eyes kept getting stuck shut. Maybe the director knows what her job is, maybe she’s just sitting in a plum appointment that a corrupt official gave her so that she would have an nice income.   I don’t know. All I know is I think she recognized the possibility of the repatriation of these documents. And for me? The repatriation is not as important as the fact that I found evidence in the archives of buildings being used as theaters, of people who self identified as writers of plays entering into various business negotiations. I even found one writer of a play serving jail time. If they identify as writers of plays that means that they are in Lima in 1599 writing plays. That means there is theatre in Lima, 1599, and actually, from years before that.  It means theatre history in the Americas needs some serious re writing.

 

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