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Mariano Pensotti: "There is an Argentine passion for inventing the past that has a lot to do with theater"


The Argentine director and playwright reflects on the intense bond between Buenos Aires and the theater in the film 'El Público'

The Argentine theater director Mariano Pensotti, in a theater in Buenos Aires.E.


The Argentine playwright and theater director Mariano Pensotti (Buenos Aires, 49 years old) always liked doing theater more than watching it.

Put the body.

Pensotti remembers that as a child his parents sent him to acting classes "because he was very shy" and he continued on stage until his twenties.

“I was pretty bad at acting, luckily I found out pretty quickly,” he jokes.

At that time he began to write and direct his own plays, still convinced that the theater "was going to be an intense romance of several summers" and not the lasting relationship from which 25 plays have already been born and which has opened the doors to festivals around the world.

In an interview with EL PAÍS following the screening of his trilogy on theater audiences in Buenos Aires, Athens and Brussels (

El Público


The Audience


Le public / Het Publiek

) reflects on the link between the inhabitants of Buenos Aires and the performing arts and the havoc caused by the pandemic.

“I love to see the public.

I wonder who they are, ”says Pensotti, before confessing that he attends almost every performance of his work and watches those who are sitting in the seats when the curtain opens.


How is the relationship of the porteños with the theater?


Very intense.


What is it due to?



I think it has to do with many things.

On the one hand, Buenos Aires is a great representation of something else.

Here people act as if they were Europeans in exile instead of Latin Americans.

There are those who are already the fourth generation of immigrants but continue to speak mythically of their origins;

we have a president who went so far as to say that in South America we are all descendants of Europeans, ignoring our roots.

This performance of being others explains a lot about the relationship of the porteños with the theater.

I think that the everyday thing that is sending your sons and daughters to study theater for any reason and after the theater in Argentina has been able to demonstrate its ability to resist absolutely everything, dictatorships and economic crises, also has an influence.



He just weathered a pandemic.

What impact has it had on theatre?



The pandemic was very hard because there were not many support networks here for those of us who do theater.

For us, that is, for the Marea Group, it was super complicated because many times we do co-productions with foreign festivals and theater, festivals and trips were the combination of everything that could not be done.

We spent two years of enormous uncertainty that continues to hover.

The number of independent rooms that have closed is enormous, and that is a loss that takes a long time to rebuild.



During the pandemic, the theater tried to adapt to virtuality and filmed plays were shown.

How do you see those experiences?



On the one hand, the theater needs live because it is to share a space for a while and that reality makes each performance unique and different every night.

The public, with its presence, with its reactions, transforms what is happening on stage.

If they laugh, if they cough, if they get up and leave, it is impossible for it not to affect them.

The spectators then complete the work with meaning because its ephemeral nature makes it much more alive and fragile than the cinema, which has the opposite claim, that of trapping time and preserving the experience.

But I do believe that there were attempts at experimentation by some directors who mixed live with online and audiovisual.

I'm interested in the hybrid and I'm hoping, especially from young creators, who are perhaps the ones who were able to experiment with more time and freedom,



Sometimes it seems that there is an attempt to return everything to the way it was before.


It makes no sense at a narrative, aesthetic or social level to say: 'That's it, it's over, let's go back to before'.

We have to take responsibility for the fact that something happened to us, that we feel things, things happened to us, we lost people and we meet again in another way.

In the theater it also has to be reflected.



How was the return to the stage?



We are still in a moment of transition, but I do notice a lot of enthusiasm to return to the theater that is striking and symptomatic of what we said before.

People are having a harder time going back to the movies than to the theater.






The cinema has more domestic competitions, the theater is live, you have to go see it and share that space and that time.

Now that we were on tour with a new play,

The Years

, in Italy, the theaters were full of people and many stayed for the after-talk.

I felt that there was a lot of interest not only in the work but in meeting again, in knowing what we had done during the pandemic.


Accustomed to the theater, how was the transition to the cinema?


I felt that it gave us a level of freedom that we had not had for a long time.

And since we filmed many outdoors, being on the street forced us to deal with unforeseen events, with a spontaneity that is more difficult to appear in theater.



All three films revolve around the spectators' reconstruction of a play.

Everyone tells it in their own way.

How is that process of completing the meaning of what is seen on stage?



That interested us a lot, how one remembers the experience.

If you see a movie you can say: 'Go see it, or download it'.

A play is more difficult for the other person to see.

It generates much more narration and much more memory, because the viewers create a fiction as they narrate.

It is the same thing that happens when we narrate the past.

We modify it each time because we do different routes.

One goes on inventing oneself, building a fiction of oneself, which is something quite similar to what happens in memory.



Collectively, does the same thing happen in Argentina?

With that look and permanent narration of the past



Argentina is a country that is built through huge myths and omissions from its past.

The mythification of the origins of the Argentines, the mythification of the wealth of Argentina at the beginning of the 20th century.

When one begins to dig he finds that it was not exactly like that.

And there is also an Argentine passion for permanently inventing that collective past and for reinventing its history that has a lot to do with theater, as a generator of fictions.



In the film about Buenos Aires, the chosen play is an imitator of former president Fernando de la Rúa and the memory of the performance is mixed with personal memories of the 2001 crisis. Why that choice?



Because 2001 was the moment when Argentines stopped being spectators to become protagonists of history.

And the three films do the same thing, they return to the protagonist public.

Also, in Buenos Aires almost all the scenes are recorded in the center, which is the place of all the political mobilizations.

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Source: elparis

All news articles on 2022-05-23

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