Yuyachkani ROCKS my world

Not since the Edinburgh Festival of 1981, when I had a chance to see Tadeusz Kantor’s brilliant national theatre, have I seen a piece of theatre that MOVED me and its  audience the way YUYACHKANI’S SIN TITULA: TECNICA MIXTA did last night at the opening night of its remounted production.  The company of founding members director Miguel Rubio and performers Teresa Ralli, Rebeca Ralli, Debora Correa and my own teacher Ana Correa, Augusto Casafranca and Julian Bravo are celebrating their FORTY FIFTH year of artistic and political work together, and on behalf of the communities of Peru’s diverse nation.  Sin Titulo simultaneously and without any need for explanation (even for someone like me, with limited Spanish) testifies and embodies the stories of BOTH Chile’s invasion in the 1890’s and, the terror of Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) exactly a century later. After twenty years of internal terror at the hands of the Maoist Shining Path, and the corruption of several governmental regimes in a row, including the imprisoned Alberto Fujiori, hundreds of thousands of mostly indigenous peoples, and mostly women and children, have been murdered, disappeared or otherwise terrorized in their homes of the Altiplano in the high Andes and in the historical wracked communities of Ayacucho, Lima, and all through the Cuzco area.  Sin Titulo has no title because there is no way to title the terror, the horrors, the deceit, the suffering of the peruvian people during this terror, and in fact, during 400 years of invasion, colonization, christianization, coercion, systematic genocide, independence, and now, globalization and economic and environmental destruction. This moving, tumultuous work of theatre is staged in the fashion of the Medieval miracle plays and pageants, like the stations of the cross in a Passion play, and like the seven ring circus of a coney island side show extravaganza.  The work is more multi media installation than theatre.  The actors move amongst us, sometimes in intimate performances for only one listerer (Ana Correa, dressed in 1890’s widow’s blacks read me a letter her character penned to the government seeking justice) and sometimes in choral voice, sounding like an ensemble of 200, rather than 12 (the company and its mentees, working/presenting stagehands/witnesses/students/victims/monsters/assistants.  The audience stands and move through the entire event, migrated by choice and sometimes by force urged by giant moving platforms, and an ensemble of young players who operate in the shadows around the Main Players, provided costumes, shifting sets, wearing masks, operating ghosts, puppets, characters/ghosts on stilts and more. Through the words of Peruvian mestizo writer Jose Maria Arguedas, embodied by Casafranca (who astonishingly also plays the crucified Jesus Christ, first in his tomb, and then ascending to the spirits with the help of a winged angel (Deborah Correa), we see a pageant of characters…a nun in search of 50 children who have disappeared (Rebeca Ralli), a peasant woman cradling the remaining half of her husband’s body, a female student (the astonishing Teresa Ralli, embodying a small girl) terrorized by a fascist teacher who seems devoid of human feeling (Ana Correa, transformative in body, voice and with the help of her omnipresent accordion). The voice of Julian Bravo, on par with the three great tenors of far more fame but far less passion and character, fills the studio like the call of a conch shell from an Andean mountain, capable of singing a message of warning for thousands of miles.  The chaos inside the theatre reaches a fever pitch more than once, as the music, sung anthems and mixta tecnica of the complex sound score, both recorded and live, roars like the volcano of Ecuador, currently spewing hot lava and flames into the air, almost as though the volcano itself could hear the cry of YUYACHKANI—to remember and to never never never let this happen again.  Nunca Mas is the cry, as was the cry following the Nazi holocaust of WWII.  Never again.  And as the Quechua name of the theatre company translates.. Yuyachkani–to remember, the act of remembering, remember me, you remember, re-member, remember to remember.  Never again. IMG_4455.JPG

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