November 23, 2014
Two pieces on education and Argentine history
For The Herald
Gonzalo Demaría is a busy, multitalented man of the theatrical scene. Playwright, director, actor, producer and a master in the use of language and vocabulary. In fact, three of his plays are on stage now. La Maestra Serial (The Serial Schoolteacher) — which is La Ogresa de Barracas’s sequel — is having a second lease of life for it is currently being restaged.
La Maestra Serial tells the story of a schoolteacher who is the great granddaughter of one of the teachers that former Argentine president Domingo Faustino Sarmiento had engaged to educate illiterate Argentines in the nineteenth century. The group to which this teacher belonged landed in Buenos Aires on the very day Sarmiento died: September 11, 1888.
The great grandmother of the serial schoolteacher was called the Ogress of Barracas for she was known to roam the Barracas neighbourhood searching for pupils. And it was said that she ate them — a rumour that gave birth to the nickname “Ogress.”
A problem arises: what little Spanish she speaks she learned on board the ship that brought her here — which, of course, is hardly enough — so she has to communicate in English. Not an easy way to get through to an ignorant, illiterate gaucho, which generates some very funny bilingual confusion-prone exchanges between the educated lady and the young man’s loutish use of the language. As in the preceding play, the author brilliantly pays with language, two at the time. And he is fortunate enough to have Lucila Gandolfo, whose English — translated in subtitles — is a pleasure to hear and whose regal impersonation a pleasure to watch.
Nahuel Bazán’s depiction of an ignorant, puzzled gaucho, the exact opposite of the refined lady, is frankly outstanding. The same can be said about Julio Suárez’s costumes, Gonzalo Córdova’s set and lights plus Gerardo Gardelin´s fine score and Demaría’s firm, well judged direction.
Where & When
La Ogresa de Barracas: Hasta Trilce theatre (Maza 177, 4862-1758, www.hastatrilce.com.ar). Saturdays, 8pm. Tickets for 120 pesos available at the venue.
La Maestra Serial: El Camarín de las Musas (Mario Bravo 960, 4862-0655,www.elcamarindelasmusas.com). Sundays, 8pm. Tickets for 100 pesos available at the venue.