Theater Review: "How to turn to stone" and Manuela Infante revitalize the scene

There are two “truths” that still circulate and hear despite being abrogated by common sense and the passage of time.

By Leopoldo Pulgar Ibarra

“Grow, multiply and dominate the earth,” said God, according to the Bible, after creating man and woman (and we already know how the planet is as a result of this stimulus), a general idea that a slope of Greek relativistic rationalism it expanded to conceive of people as a “measure of all things”, a human being elevated to the axis of everything that exists from the European Renaissance and its individualistic anthropocentrism.

The second assertion, more everyday, refers to the fact that the northern desert has nothing attractive compared to the south of the country, denying the value of the large spaces, the variety of mineral colors and mountain shapes and ignoring its geographical relief. the presence of visible geological faults, valleys, sand and stones in the pampas.
More so, if the studies of the so-called Earth Sciences have been helping to install in human consciousness the need to know Nature and its impossible to govern force.

These thoughts and experiences reappear in the head when one lives the scenic and philosophical challenge proposed by “How to become a stone”, by the playwright and director Manuela Infante (“Prat”, “Christ”, “Xuárez,” Vegetable state).

How to turn to stone (c)

Talking spaces

Apparently inert bodies that star in “How to become stone” reach the viewer after being pressured to show what their memory hides and through the own language that the director discovers in them.

Sediments that have formed stones and rocks, remains of all kinds, including humans, all possible to find and observe as part of the desert that its scenery suggests.

The desert as a scenographic space that the playwright and director chose to install the work has a physical, material and also symbolic meaning, especially in Chile.

In that vast territory, “soggy”, political prisoners, part of the mining wealth have disappeared; its surface undergoes constant changes (underground mines, open pit), mountains of tailings and sterile cavities after extractive activity.

Digging a bit you will find vestiges of ancient and contemporary memories, sociological data, traces of internal and foreign migrations.

Close approaches

The proposal leaves aside telling a story: it is shown as a scenic installation without conventional characters, with choreographies where the three human actors-statues are at the service of dolls and stones, changing places, building different volumes with part of the floor covering the stage, suggesting and accompanying its mobility.

Like the plates and reliefs of the earth’s geography, stones, rocks and mountains resulted from the explosions of fiery and crackling sidereal materials.

The form that the work uses to bring the objects it uses closer to the viewer are built with seeds wrapped in cloth, a material that suggests what palpitates, adapts or changes, which at times loses its rigidity and hardness when hitting the ground or being manipulated, details like many others that jointly outline angles of the language of things.

Several stories develop simultaneously, rather, vestiges of thematic allusions or statements of stories, each with its own meaning.

The same happens with other resources that it uses (sound, lighting, projected images), all with a life of their own, materially invasive, therefore, super present from the stage: they create a new reality impossible for the viewer to ignore.

Among the various resources of the montage (reiterating that each one has its own life, language and meaning), the lighting grid stands out on the wide stage.

However, from their formal, aesthetic and functional independence, they all converge in the construction of a scenic environment where the “stone idea” is the nucleus and reference that human things and bodies seek.

Materiality -volumes, quantity, weight, design, lighting, sound- is imposed in this stage production and interweaves its components in asymmetry and in a kind of chaos that the passage of stage time will settle, suggest, drag, transport ideas about society, the exploitation of people and the land.

Something similar happens with the texts projected on the screen, extreme synthesis, suggestions of incomplete or barely enunciated ideas, sometimes poetic.

They allude to vital processes, reintegration, recycling, everything is transformed, to complete things or parts of what is or was, such as a geographical fault in the middle of the territory in which it is located.

How to turn to stone (c)

Systems and structures

Altogether, on stage, the director creates complex and dynamic systems of material energies that intersect and undergo variations, without losing their autonomy without diluting where they come from or their traceability.

A proposal that even surpasses the contemporary post-dramatic alternative, a “mineral dramatic structure” (how it would be to apply the way stones and rocks behave on stage), as the work expressly states, where the multiple meanings are contributed by elements that characterize each resource used, which converge on stage showing other ways of relating.

Actually, stones and rocks can also be considered “living things”, due to the cumulative sedimentary form of their autonomous formation, a process impossible to capture by the human eye.

Although it is true that the work does not seek to represent stones or rocks, it is no less true that it resorts to observable and measurable materiality by our senses to make its approach.

A valuable analogy that strengthens philosophical reflection to underline the need to move away from human visions on stage and look at “other forms of organization”, while settling in irreplaceable materiality.

Provocative, stimulating thinking, evoking, recognizing and changing the point of view from the scenic machinery of multiple senses that is used, proposes this installation of wide deployment that passes through states and situations and configures a way of working that revitalizes Chilean theater.

How to turn to stone

Dramaturgy, Direction and Sound Design: Manuela Infante
Cast: Marcela Salinas, Rodrigo Pérez, Aliocha de la Sotta

Integral Design: Rocío Hernández
Technical Chief, Visuals: Pablo Mois
Sound engineer: Diego Betancourt, Isabel Zúñiga
Audiovisual Design and Sound-Light Programming: Alex Waghorn
Choreography: Diana Carvajal
Sound Technical Design: Gonzalo Rodríguez
Theoretical Research and Dramaturgism: Camila Valladares
Musical Collaboration: Valentina Villarroel
Scenography Realization: Amorescenic
Props Realization: Gabriel Seisdedos – Madrid Workshop
Costumes: Daniela Espinoza
Production: Carmina Infante
Co-production Centro Cultural Matucana 100, Fundación Teatro a Mil, NAVE and Parque Cultural de Valparaíso.
Financing Fondart 2020

Matucana 100
Thursday to Saturday, 8:00 p.m. Sunday, 7:00 p.m.
General admission, $ 6,000; students and seniors, $ 3,000.
Until October 17, 2021.

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