December 9, 2013
Journalist, actress, and writer Cristina PérezTuesday, October 8, 2013
‘Argentines have long been prisoners of emergency situations’
San Miguel de Tucumán, August 17, 1973
Studies: Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Oxford Continuing Education, University of London and OISE
Hobbie: Reading and fitness
Newspaper: Clarín, La Nación, Página 12, Perfil, The Economist, The Financial Times, New York Times.
Far from the formality of news programmes — on which Cristina Pérez has worked for two decades — she sits in a Puerto Madero cafe with no make-up, sporty clothes, and MP3 player in hand, ready to carry out fitness training. Polite and warm-hearted, she artlessly answers to the Herald’s questions about her new projects and the country’s current affairs.
You are still working as a journalist at Telefe Noticias, you are starring in William Shakespeare’s tragedy Antony and Cleopatra on Saturdays and Sundays in Villa Luro and you are about to release your short-story book Cuentos inesperados. How would you define this time of your life?
I am living my five pending lives all rolled into one. It’s a beautiful moment. I think that there’s always a moment when you know that there are things that you love to do but you haven’t given them enough time. They still knock on your door to give them a chance. They are all activities related to words, language and communication.
When and why did you start your involvement in drama?
My drama journey began with an absolute bardolatry. I studied English literature for more than three years in an online course by Oxford Continuing Education and the University of London. I made a great effort because the contents were the same as if I were studying on their campus but I did it alone and sat the exams at the British Council. All that granted me access to a world that I can’t and don’t want to leave. Actually, it let me transform reality through my own visions. Shakespeare is that axis where men and women meet their free will and their capacity to watch the world, to question it and interpret it. It means putting the word in action. Shakespeare’s words breathe new life into everything. I began reading and it drove me to action. When I met director Patricio Orozco, who is also a fan of Shakespeare, we joined energies and embarked on this adventure. My first role was Lady Macbeth. Theatre is one of the most intense activities I have ever done due to the physical and metaphysical experience it encompasses.
For this version of Antony and Cleopatra (a free-admission show), a special venue was built — Teatro Shakespeare — similar to the Globe Theatre in London. What’s it like to perform there?
It’s an ideal situation because it plays an important social role. We are taking a theatrical experience to the people. As in Elizabethan times, people go into the Globe, literally and metaphorically speaking, participating in the story and feeling the actors breathing.
Did you have the chance to see any of Shakespeare’s plays at the Globe?
Luckily, a lot! I work hard to travel every year to England to see different performances. This year I watched Hamlet in Stratford-Upon-Avon, where a new theatre — not a globe — was built with an apron stage and a kind of surrounding structure. It touched my heart deeply and I couldn’t stop crying. I loved it!
Will the actress gain ground on the journalist?
No, I don’t think so. The journalist has lots of advantages. It is like a reflex action. By just working in a news television programme, you don’t deploy all your skills as a journalist. If there is any chance, I put on the superhero suit in one second flat and I go to the Daily Planet.
You have been working in television for 20 years and Argentina has experienced different situations. How do you see the country today?
I see a context of crisis. There are situations which haven’t been solved and will affect us in the short-or-long-term. Our politicians and the government should be very responsible in order to build consensus, because we are close to a transition — after October 27’s elections. Legacy is important, but it is also important to generate continuity without any sudden shocks. For a long time, Argentines have been prisoners of emergency situations, and sometimes it is the politicians who make up an emergency as an excuse to make people rely on them. This should change.
Where exactly do you see this crisis?
It is crazy that after 10 years of economic growth we are again on the brink of a possible technical default. What was managed wrongly in those years? Not telling the truth regarding economic variables brings a high level of distortion, and it’s like domino pieces which push one another. One doesn’t know when this will end. It’s like pressure cooking. Not having access to loans, with the macroeconomic figures the country has, not only affects the government but also anyone who wants to take on any activity. Beyond the national government’s explanations, any kind of monetary crackdown is clear proof that there are restrictions on some economic freedoms. Ultimately, money is your property, which you earn working hard and you should decide what to do with it. I become attached to what the law says and the spirit of our rights.
Do you see positive points in the current national administration?
The reconstruction of the social fabric with initiatives such as the Universal Child Allowance is a valid fact. However, this shouldn’t crystallize into the status quo because the only thing that leads to progress is the dignity of work, in order for people to develop and grow.
What do you think about the one-on-one interviews between some journalists and the president and about the lack of press conferences?
As a FOPEA (Argentine Journalists Forum) member, we look forward to an equal situation. The right to information and press conferences are citizens’ rights and journalists are just the medium for it to happen. But when that right is altered, it is a lack of respect to the people. It’s important to carry the democratic function to give explanations and this can be done by the free exchange of questions and answers, no matter to whom the president wants to grant the interview. What I can say is that I wouldn’t let others edit my interview. Editing is a part of my vision regarding the interview. I would like that the president give press conferences and to grant interviews freely. It would be healthier. She is very intelligent and would embarrass some journalists.
What do you think about the long-lasting conflict between the national government and Grupo Clarín?
I can only say that I am in favour of unconditional freedom of speech for all, whether I agree with their thoughts or not. In this context, the resolution of any conflict should involve by preserving freedom of expression. To prevent any media (Clarín, Página 12, Telefe or whoever) is to ban freedom, which is something absolute.
Let’s return to your book, which is the first work you’ll publish, but not the first you have written...
The book was an exhilarating experience. I have written a lot of literary reviews and blogged before. For Cuentos inesperados, I took elements of Elizabethan comedy to create stories stereotyping the characters with their names: people names are related to who they are and this defines their destinies.
How do you see yourself in ten years?
If it was my choice, with ten more books written. I don’t know... I would be happy with five more. I am working on a novel. I don’t know when I will finish it because it’s a different adventure to short stories.
Would you like to continue working on a news programme or would you like to try other formats?
I love news programmes, which I also write. Maybe, I would like to return to the radio and to try a programme with interviews. Next year, I would like to do something from Shakespeare, because it is his 450th anniversary. I would also like to write a book about Shakespeare, which would take my whole life. Energies have an hydraulic of their own. And, the news programme. Let’s see, as long as my face helps me. Every day, I take it as a new adventure.