Staging Lives in Latin American Theater: Bodies, Objects, Archives

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Author Name:
Paola S. Hernández

Northwestern UP

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Staging Lives in Latin American Theater: Bodies, Objects, Archives examines twenty-first-century documentary theater in Latin America, focusing on important plays by the Argentine director Vivi Tellas, the Argentine playwright and director Lola Arias, the Mexican theater collective Teatro Línea de Sombra, and the Chilean playwright and director Guillermo Calderón. Paola S. Hernández demonstrates how material objects and archives—photographs, videos, and documents such as witness reports, legal briefs, and letters—come to life onstage. Hernández argues that present-day, live performances catalog these material archives, expanding and reinterpreting the objects’ meanings. These performances produce an affective relationship between actor and audience, visualizing truths long obscured by repressive political regimes and transforming theatrical spaces into sites of witness. This process also highlights the liminality between fact and fiction, questioning the veracity of the archive.

Richly detailed, nuanced, and theoretically wide-ranging, Staging Lives in Latin American Theater reveals a range of interpretations about how documentary theater can conceptualize the idea of self while also proclaiming a new mode of testimony through theatrical practices.