When I was first out of the Conservatory, I did a two-month stint with a theatre group called Diciembre. It was an established company that had formed during the anxious years of the war, when it was known for its brazen trips into the conflict zone, bringing theatre to the people, and, in the city, for staging all-night marathon shows—pop reworkings of García Lorca, stentorian readings of Brazilian soap-opera scripts, always with a political edge, sometimes subtle, often not at all, anything to keep people awake and laughing through what would otherwise have been the dark, lonely hours of curfew. These shows were legendary among the theatre students of my generation, and many of my classmates claimed to have been present, as children, at one or another of these performances. They said that their parents had taken them, that they had witnessed an unholy union of recital and insurrection, of sex and barbarism, and that they remained, however many years later, unsettled and even inspired by the memory. They were all liars. We were, in fact, studying to be liars. It’s been nine years since I graduated, and I imagine that these days students at the Conservatory talk about other things. They are too young to remember how ordinary fear was during the war. Perhaps they find it difficult to imagine a time when theatre was improvised in response to terrifying headlines, a time when delivering a line of dialogue with a chilling sense of dread did not even require acting. But, then, such are the narcotic effects of peace, and certainly no one wants to go backward.
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