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On 11 September 1973, the Chilean army led by Augusto Pinochet stages a coup, during which the incumbent socialist president Salvador Allende dies. Pinochet establishes a right-wing military dictatorship, installing a regime of brutal repression which rules the country for 17 years, perpetrating mass violations of human rights. A quarter of a century later, the young punks of La Re-sentida go back in time, turning themselves into spin doctors to help Allende and rewrite history. A few years ago, this young theatre company was one of the big surprises at the Holland Festival. Now they use their humour and boundless energy to explore what would have happened if Allende had played the political game differently. Would democracy have been saved? Would Allende’s coalition have been able to foster prosperity and growth? Without any reservations, the myth of Allende is deconstructed, and a new future is drawn.
Directed by Marco Layera Navarro, the Chilean theatre company La Re-sentida casts new light on the dicatorial history of Chile, examining the possibility of an alternative scenario, in La imaginación del futuro.
On 11 September 1973, Chile's socialist president Salvador Allende gave his last public speech. A few minutes later, he committed suicide to prevent himself from being killed by Augusto Pinochet's soldiers, who were about to storm the presidential palace. His coup a success, Pinochet ruled the country as dictator with an iron fist for the following seventeen years, violating each and every human right possible.
Those are the historical facts, but in their audacious performance La imaginación del futuro, theatre company La Re-sentida go in search of an alternative history. They send a group of contemporary ministers of state back into the past to radically change the course of history. What if Allende had been advised by a team of modern communication experts? Would his decisions have been different? If the Chilean Popular Front (the Unidad Popular, who put Allende forward as their presidential candidate in 1970) were to rise again tomorrow, would it operate differently?
By outlining the various paths history did not take, director Marco Layera Navarro and his team – all of them born after 1975 – are trying to develop a new way of looking at Allende. For once putting aside the idealised image of Allende as a peace-loving revolutionary and their great appreciation for him, they weigh up the decisions of the Unidad Popular against the terrible years that followed the coup.
In order to devise a system that would work best today – according to them, these days the communist dream from the 1970's does not qualify by a long stretch – La Re-sentida uses their dark humour to offer us new perspectives on the best and the worst years in Chile's history.
Just like La Re-sentida's previous plays, La imaginación del futuro is another plea for the importance of art in Chile's modern, ideology-free era. The members of this contemporary theatre company developed their theatre as a social instrument to reflect on their cultural identity and their country's painful dictatorial past. Their view is that theatre makers should have the courage to break taboos, slaughter sacred cows and to bring about reflection through provocation – and they're not afraid to ridicule themselves in the process.
Two years ago La Re-sentida featured at the Holland Festival with their piece Tratando de hacer una obra que cambie el mundo ('An attempt to stage a play that will change the world'), a comical, energetic satire on utopia, revolution, politics and art. In this piece too, the company rewrote the true course of history by supplanting it with a fictional alternative. In the play, a group of politically engaged stage actors go underground to write the ultimate play to change the world, but after four years in isolation, they discover that a new government has succeeded in banning all poverty and injustice. Can theatre contribute anything to change the world? Or is this only wishful thinking? These are the questions which seem to inform all of La Re-sentida's work – while the answers are not necessarily to their own advantage.