Message from the Conjunto magazine of Casa de las Américas

Declaration of emergency for the Latin American and Caribbean theatre scene

Message from the Conjunto magazine of Casa de las Américas

The pandemic has affected and continues to affect the vitality and development of Latin American and Caribbean theater every day and threatens the survival of important groups. Performances and festivals have had to be canceled and rehearsals have been suspended. As groups and artists generate virtual initiatives to sustain creative activity and communication with the public and with their colleagues everywhere, with events, marathons, monologues, panels and online workshops, as a vital impulse to prevent the theater from dying, many Neoliberal governments, lacking humanistic cultural policies and indifferent to the need to preserve and affirm the identity of their peoples, turn their backs on culture and its artists.

For decades, the independent theater movement has been a fundamental bulwark of the culture of our America. Its work, committed to the people and their struggles, claims history in light of the present and, with the point of view of the dispossessed, recreates it through languages in consonance with its revolutionary content. The groups that are part of this movement were already in crisis when the pandemic reached them, as they do not have regular state subsidies or support, nor social or medical security. Theater makers, along with many other creative sectors, are groups that are forgotten by capitalist society, and as Boaventura de Sousa reasoned, they have had a more difficult quarantine, since they already suffered disadvantages and discrimination.

Long-standing companies such as the Compañía del Latón from Brazil, Contraelviento from Ecuador, and the Casa del Silencio, Corfesq, Chango Teatro and La Maldita Vanidad from Colombia, have been forced to leave their theatres, which had been acquired and maintained with much effort, because of the impossibility to pay their expenses, and there are many more on the verge of closing. Ten spaces of the Red de Salas y Espacios of Peru have also been lost, and the Brazilian Tribo de Atuadores Ói Nóis Aqui Traveiz have had to launch a campaign to try to save their theatre.

In a panel of women for culture in times of pandemic, Patricia Ariza from the Corporación Colombiana de Teatro and Ana Correa from Yuyachkani claimed that it is necessary that the states declare an emergency of culture and particularly in the theatre.

The performing arts exist in collective work and in close and live encounters with spectators and, as the Movement of Independent Theater Groups of Peru asserts, "it is more than a stage and more than entertainment." If the state does not react, what will happen to its makers, men and women dedicated to sharing words and images with the public, stimulated by the energy that bounces from the other side of the fourth wall? How will we save the live stage legacy of so many groups and the memory that transcends it? How will the new plays be born and how will you actors and actresses reach the stage?

The Conjunto magazine, together with the many voices that rise up in our America, expresses its solidarity support to Latin American and Caribbean theatre makers, and defends their right to the safe creation, with health and well-being, for the present and the future of our peoples.

Havana, 6 July 2020.