Eleven refugees, eleven languages, eleven decades. Some flee wars, others political persecutions, hunger and misery, but share the determination to survive and seek a better life. They are the protagonists of The New Colossus, the theatrical work of the American Tim Robbins with which last night the twelfth edition of the International Festival of Buenos Aires (FIBA). The election of this work of great political commitment is a declaration of intentions: to provoke the reflection of the spectator on the current world.
"Many of the works that accompany us have to do with the theater of nonfiction, the FIBA has a political bias and this year we look for works that reflect on the problems of the other, why does it become an other? Does it frighten us? What is the logic that breaks? There are countries that are taking drastic decisions against the other that terrifies us, "says Federico Irazábal, artistic director of the festival.
Refugees The New Colossus they say goodbye to their loved ones, they cry, they pray and they run. They flee from Nazi Germany, from Iran from the Islamic revolution, from Tsarist Russia, from an impoverished Mexico. Each one speaks in their language, they are not understood, nor do they know what their gestures mean, if they are cold, afraid, why they argue, what they laugh about. That incomprehension and the helplessness of those who see their world reduced to a suitcase move the viewer, more in a country like Argentina, formed by millions of descendants of immigrants. But the repetitions return to the tedious work and its Manichean ending does not shed light on the current direction of the planet, in which more and more people vote for leaders who want to close borders and expel foreigners.
Also within the festival, one of the first Argentine works exhibited deepened one of the problems that cross the southern country: gender violence. I do not die, not anymore, of Fernando Rubio, breaks the privacy of the home in which most abuses are perpetrated by turning it into a transparent cubicle. Without walls to hide it, the public sees men who humiliate, beat and kill their partners while floating in the air a question: is it avoidable? Only in the first 24 days of 2019, 15 women have been murdered in Argentina.
In the courtyard of the San Martin Cultural Center, where the work was carried out, there was an urn that was invited to fill with stories of their own or others about cases of sexist violence. In less than two hours, it had been filled with testimonies. It is not for less: in 2017 there were 86,700 complaints of gender violence in Argentina. It's the tip of the iceberg: most never get close to a police station.
Among the most anticipated works of this edition stand out A reason to talk, of the Belgian actress of Iranian origin Sachli Gholamalizad and Atlas des Kommunismus, from Argentina's Lola Arias, which will close the festival. "The Belgian-Iranian show of a huge contemporaneity of its language, a cross between two cultures", stresses Irazábal. Arias, one of the most talented contemporary Argentine directors, returns to the historical memory, after her work on the Argentine crisis of 2001 and the Malvinas war, in 1982.
The FIBA has shortened its duration compared to previous editions, from 17 to 12 days, and debuts in January, in full summer season, when Buenos Aires is half-empty. But he has not resented: the more than 1,500 seats in the amphitheater of Parque Centenario last night were occupied and there were dozens of people who stayed outside. Most of the 200 works that will be exhibited have sold out tickets.