Chicago Humanities Festival’s “Escuela” Review – In the Bunker

 

With a theme of “Citizens”, the Chicago Humanities Festival enlisted Chilean dramatist and filmmaker Guillermo Calderon to stage “Escuela”, a re-enactment of the guerrilla training schools that formed in response to the Pinochet dictatorship.  In the context of the festival, the implied question is “What motivates citizens to take up arms to defeat their current government?”

 

 

Wearing hoods that obscure their faces until the final bows, five actors (Camila Fernando Gonzalez, Carols Alberto Ugarte, Maria Francisca Lewin, Andrea Laura Giadach, and Luis Enrique Cerda) take us into what feels like a very claustrophic bunker where discussions range from bomb making, to ideology, to how-tos of maintaining a clandestine network, to demonstrations of how to handle guns, psychological warfare and more along these lines.   

 

 

The script conveys the sophisticated thought and attention to detail that the guerilla movement had developed.  In a very short time this script engulfs you in a very different world and gives you much to chew on.

 

 

 

You are immersed in the mindset of those who opposed Pinochet in granular detail.  How you respond to this mindset probably depends on your pre-existing ideas about the Pinochet regime.   

 

 

Whether purposeful or not, the Museum of Contemporary Art’s performance space was unusually cold during this performance, perhaps adding to the desire one felt to bust free of the bunker surrounds. 

 

 

This year’s Chicago Humanities Festival main event has now concluded.  The organization holds additional events throughout the year and will likely post their theme for next year’s fortnight or so fall festival.  Visit the Chicago Humanities Festival website to keep abreast of their offerings.

 

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Photos: Valentino Saldivar

 

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