New Argentine play on the Malvinas / Falklands portrays Thatcher as devil, the British as pirates
There are always amusing ways to deal with actual facts through representations. In the play “Malvinas, islas de la memoria” (“Malvinas, islands of memory”), currently running at the Cervantes National theatre in Buenos Aires, writer / director Julio Cardoso and his team make it clear that parody is the only possible way to look back and laugh.
In an hour-long interactive play, several actors embody the protagonists of the Malvinas / Falklands Islands conflict: soldiers, teachers, politicians, generals, islanders. Actress Lucía Adúriz even has the chance to play the challenging role of Margaret Thatcher, who seems the cruelest person in the world when she points out at a map and screams the order: “Sink it!” — referencing the sinking of the Light Cruiser General Belgrano in 1982, considered by many a war crime.
In an interview exclusive to The Independent blogs, Adúriz agrees that her character is not quite realistic.
“Art never speaks about anyone in general terms. Pirates and evil are stereotypes,” she says. “It is an easier way to tell our story. As Latin Americans, we have always associated British people with pirates because that’s how we have seen them politically. We are not talking about people but about politicians.”
For director Julio Cardoso, the fact that they describe characters through this exaggerated way has to do with the play’s genre.
“The essence of parody is to go deeper into general traits that are related to a spirit, not to a specific person,” he opines. “Parody doesn’t make a demon out of somebody else, we laugh at Margaret Thatcher. We don’t hate her. We are able to laugh at her because we are confident of ourselves.”
Based on research carried out by the Malvinas Observatory at the University of Lanús, this fiction tells the history of the conflict. To do this, it uses historical sources and even intimate material, like the letters of soldiers. There is a moving letter written by the sister of a soldier. Along with a drawing of her beloved brother, she writes: “I imagine you this way.”
Adúriz says she was inspired when she first saw these writings.
Explains Adúriz: “I am 26 years-old, I wasn’t even born when the Malvinas occurred, so for me it was very important being in contact with people who have an emotional connection with the islands, they passed on these feelings to me.”
There are fragments of the story that are particularly touching for us, like when we resort to actual testimonies of veterans.”
Indeed, a few memories are worth sharing in their entirety:
An Argentine soldier who fell in love with a kelper (Falkland islander) with whom she crossed paths when she was hanging out the laundry; another soldier who jumped from a ship to save a friend; a veteran who used to swap letters with a teacher, who met her when he came back, fell in love, got married and now has children with her; a soldier that returned to his town and was honoured as soon as he arrived by his schoolmates who sang the national anthem. The histories are countless, and they are reproduced in the play as accurately as possible.
Veterans themselves are happy about it.
“They said something that is very important for us: that out of many plays and movies that tackle Malvinas, this play is the only one that could take them exactly where they were at war,” Adúriz notes.
Why is the audience so touched by these accounts of war?
“Because they talk about love, fellowship, hope, friendship, they address very intimate moments: being far away, being alone, missing our loved ones,” Adúriz replies. They grab the essence of human condition. War makes us realize that we are all the same: we can all kill or die, it equalizes us, it doesn’t matter what your nationality is or your ideological thoughts are.”
Cardoso sees eye to eye with the actress: “Beyond the territorial claim, the Malvinas have become a symbolic element of dispute, the islands orientate our thoughts. For us, the reality of the islands is a colonial one. In our way of thinking, it reminds us of a colonial power, and the dominated ones; and we are situated on the non-colonial side. When we speak about Malvinas, we are speaking about Argentina. Moreover, we are talking about South America.”
So, popular comedy is a good strategy when it comes to thinking about who we are, and who we are not. In the wider Argentine imagination, Thatcher is devil and the British are pirates. Perhaps that’s because it is easier for us to put the blame on someone else. In any event, representations tell us a great deal about how we see others, and how we picture ourselves.Tagged in: Adúriz, Argentina, Cardoso, Cervantes National Theatre, devil, falklands, islas de la memoria, Malvinas, margaret thatcher, memories, ongania, Pirates, play, south atlantic, thatcher, theatre, War
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