December 11, 2013
On theatre, identity and human commitment
Massive event at Konex attended by scores of artists, activists, politicians
The stage is usually the physical space where playwrights and performers materialize the audiences’ concerns and preoccupations, a cathartic experience unrivalled by any other. The theatre, maybe due to its immediacy, is perhaps the best way for viewers to experience someone else’s personal history, struggles and reminiscences, whether tragic or joyous.
The stage is also the space where, starting in 2000, the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, aided by human rights organizations, actors, singers, writers and artists from every conceivable field were able to publicly expose their history, their plight, the joy of recovering missing grandchildren, and their undefatigable search for the ones still expecting to recover their true identity. That is, their identity before they were snatched by their appropriators during the 1976-1983 Proceso dictatorship.
Another edition — the most spectacular, perhaps — of the Grandmothers’ Teatro x la Identidad was held yesterday at the Centro Cultural Konex, in the Abasto neighbourhood. Under the motto “Sólo faltás vos” (We’re missing just you), yesterday’s event at the Konex was packed to the brim with an impressive number of actors, playwrights, murga performers, musicians, producers, set designers and other artists who gathered to celebrate a victory — recovering over 100 grandchildren — and to remind everyone that the search continues for the ones still to be found.
Some of the questions still waiting to be answered are: how much time is left to find them? Maybe days, hours, months, even years? The reunions, according to the Grandmothers, are urgent, as urgent as the love they’re waiting to give and receive. The search is urgent, they remark, because, without a sense of urgency, their goal may never be achieved. It was with this thought in mind that yesterday’s event was held at the Konex: it was a massive affair, with hundreds of people in attendance, expressing their unflinching support for the Grandmothers.
The format was simple yet very effective: the Konex, an abandoned factory turned cultural centre in the early years of the last decade, was divided into two sectors. Inside, actors like Nancy Dupláa, Julieta Díaz, Daniel Fanego and Alejandra Darín, and Buenos Aires City lawmaker-candidate Juan Cabandié (a recovered grandchild himself) oversaw the proceedings. The event inside the Konex was hosted by Alejandro Korol, Camilo García and Carla Conte, who welcomed the Grandmother’s President Estela Carlotto on stage to say a few words. A visibly moved Carlotto remarked that it was the first time Teatro x la Identidad had become an event of such big proportions. The stage was set for what resembled a family lunch, with guests taking turns to tell their stories. Cabandié, the 77th child recovered by the Grandmothers, recalled that, during the years he was deprived of his true identity, he always thought that his parents would have named him Juan. Which, of course, happened to be true. Actress Florencia Raggio said a monologue written by Patricia Zangaro based on a recovered grandchild’s account — about a child’s only memory of her mother, a seemingly inane but moving anecdote. On the outside stage set in the Konex’s patio, singers-songwriters Liliana Herrero, Gabo Ferro and Juan Carlos Baglietto took turns to perform, ending with a rousing rendition of Pedro y Pablo’s folk-rock protest song Marcha de la bronca, sung in unison with the audience.