Theater archives



Since the Buenos Aires–based company De La Guarda’s Robert-Wilson-goes-to-Coney-Island spectacles don’t have much real content aside from the visual, it’s tempting to read them through Argentine politics. Perhaps the images in 1998’s Villa Villa of flying humans tearing through paper barriers and men in suits running up and down walls mirrored the anxiety of a failing economy. If that’s not crazy talk, then their new extravaganza, Fuerzabruta (Brute Force), may parallel the recession itself—chaos, fear, deadly riots—and its resolution. Do aerialists tousling with each other across a curtain of glittering mylar suggest a nation’s desperation for prosperity? Does the sight of a man running at top speed on a treadmill through an artificial windstorm, getting shot, and bleeding relate to political unrest? For that matter, what does it mean when a screaming company member beans a critic with a Styrofoam brick? Like someone in a country that switches presidents four times in one month, I had to participate in the madness just to stay calm. So I hit him right back. But before that moment, Fuerzabruta terrified me, discotheque atmosphere notwithstanding. I wanted proof that De La Guarda had lots of insurance, that they’d passed the fire marshal’s inspection, that the huge rotating mechanical fan-thing with a performer attached to each side would not collapse and kill someone, that no acrobats would fall and die like that butoh dancer from Sankai Juku. Finally, a pool with a see-through bottom appeared above, and scantily clad women skidded blissfully through it for 20 minutes. I let out a sigh of relief. I danced in the fake rain that followed. I knew how it felt to be Argentina.