By Holli Harms
In the 1980s, Chile’s government was a military dictatorship ruled by General Augusto Pinochet. Under this regime, Chileans considered subversives were killed outright or disappeared. With no other options, ordinary citizens decided to take up arms and start a war against Pinochet and his government. To facilitate this war, they would hold secret paramilitary training in their suburban homes. Escuela is set in one of those clandestine meetings.
When you enter the theatre the five actors are on stage, talking, playing the guitar, singing. Their faces completely hidden by masks accept for their eyes which are covered by sunglasses.
The masks are to protect them and their fellow revolutionaries. If any of them are captured they will not be able to disclose the identity of anyone else.
Faces may be hidden, but not ideas and thoughts. Discussions brew and bubble on the morality of the popular war they are fighting, some of it sounds like revolutionary propaganda, some like good old common sense.
Instructions are given on the fine points of guns and bombs and capitalism. Demonstrations are lead on where to properly keep your gun hidden on your person, as well as, how to hold your gun when you take it out, how to shoot standing, squatting, lying on your belly, how to properly crawl while holding your gun, how to carefully meet another member on the street with secret codes about dinosaurs and dogs. But these are average Chileans and so it is all clumsy, messy, and often very funny.
Writer/director Guillermo Calderón grew up in this military dictatorship, this is his story, but these could be the hungry revolutionaries of any movement past or present, of ordinary individuals rising up to the needs imposed by the extraordinary circumstances they find themselves born into.
Wednesday, January 13 – Sunday, January 17
Performed in Spanish with English supertitles
The Public: LuEsther Hall
Ticket Price: $25
Running time: 90 minutes
Postshow discussion: Sunday, January 17
Writer, Director: Guillermo Calderón
Assistant Director: Maria Paz González
Cast: Luis Cerda, Francisca Lewin, Camila González, Carlos Ugarte and Andrea Giadach
Production Design: Loreto Martínez
Music: Felipe Bórquez