Tercer Cuerpo,the claustrophobic experimental play by Argentinian company Timbre 4 opening at the MCA next weekend, takes place, according to director Claudio Tolcachir, in â€œan office that doesnâ€™t have any more reason for being, its services have no meaning.â€Â While remaining in the office set, characters as obsolete as the space in which they laborÂ appear to act in other settings, other places. Tercer Cuerpo is partly about labor and identity, particularly the disappearance of sustainable, meaningful jobs for people. What happens to these characters, and us, when we must find meaning in our lives apart from a career or calling? The always-already obsolescence of the form of theater makes the piece of interest to representing labor in contemporary performance and medium specificity in dealing with contemporary collapses of space and time. But the company Timbre 4 is also a landmark for contemporary Argentinan art practices; their home base in the working-class Boedo neighborhood of Buenos Aires has become a hotbed and model for independent, experimental theater and performance.
Tercer Cuerpo, courtesy of the MCAÂ
This Spring MCAâ€™s Yolanda Cesta Cursach talked with Tolcachir about the approaching Chicago debut of Timbre 4. Her interview, translated by Cursach, appears below.
YC:Â Â InÂ Tercer Cuerpo, it seems the playing area is some undeniable womb for five very different biographies.
CT: Tercer Cuerpo is a fragmented tellingÂ ofÂ 5 simple stories crisscrossingÂ the solitude ofÂ these individualsÂ immenselyÂ incapable of dealingÂ with what life deals them.
The decadence of theÂ playing areaÂ reflects the characters’Â personal disorientation. They want something fromÂ their lives. Simple things.Â Things thatÂ in general can be had. But they don’t, and this situation causes them enormous shame.
What I likeÂ inÂ live theater is gettingÂ absorbedÂ andÂ atÂ the same timeÂ taken by the story toÂ an uncomfortable place.Â But this still depends on an intimate place,Â forÂ my discomfortÂ beingÂ the spectatorÂ canÂ identify withÂ the great and the small. With what is being known in my heart. In thatÂ divide betweenÂ laughingÂ at the same time that weÂ could cry is whereÂ we identifyÂ withÂ others.
YC: Timbre 4 has toured widely outside Latin America. Whatâ€™s the audienceâ€™s response to your plays?
CT: Itâ€™s fascinating, sometimes foreigners are even more demonstrative that Argentine people. I donâ€™t know if thatâ€™s because they find the plays odd. When you write a play, you think of the audience of your country. Furthermore, these plays are shown with subtitles, so I donâ€™t know whether the translations are alright or not, I just trust the translators. I remember once, in Dublin, a man asked me, â€œDid you get inspiration from an Irish family?â€ In France, for instance, people asked, â€œDo all Argentine mothers sleep with their sons?â€ European people are amazed by the fact that we Argentine artists create plays with a very low budget. They canâ€™t believe some actors rehearse for free and, even so, the plays are still amazing.
YC:Â Â You seem to be interested in alternative family ties.
CT: I believe that everything revolves around the familyâ€”building a family is building a society too. Hamlet can be a political play or a family drama. Iâ€™d rather make the spectator feel involved with the story between the characters than anything else.
YC: Timbre 4 is an ensemble. What is your connection after 12 years since formingÂ ?
CT: Our theater is aboutÂ investigation,Â and we haveÂ modestÂ beginnings keepingÂ us aware ofÂ our city’sÂ social situation andÂ the multitude of otherÂ storefront theaters’Â beginnings.Â FromÂ staying together all these yearsÂ weÂ manage to overcomeÂ the limitations ofÂ ourÂ neighborhood and of experimental theater, soÂ that we can getÂ the regeneratingÂ public which we so want to reach.
YC: Whatâ€™s the difference in Argentina between mainstream plays and storefront plays?
CT: Iâ€™ve performed a lot in mainstream theatre, as an actor. The production scheme is different. When you are directing a mainstream play, you ask for a couch and the next day you have it in the set. In off-theatre plays, you have to get in your car, start your engine, go to a market and buy the couch yourself. But then, the feeling between the actors is the same. Iâ€™ve never directed a play I didnâ€™t like. I couldnâ€™t direct a play if there was a bad working environment.
YC: Why make theater at all? What is so irrepressible about treating your writing this way?
CT: In my case it’s completely selfish.Â TheaterÂ makes me happy,Â I feel alive, excited from it,Â and to be honestÂ I’m not good for anything else. Investigation, risk,Â collaboration,Â unravelingÂ and breakingÂ routine each timeÂ never ceasesÂ toÂ seduceÂ me.
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