Theater Department presents interactive, site-specific performance on Argentina’s Dirty Wars

Photos by Matt Safian ’15
Photos by Matt Safian ’15

The Connecticut College Department of Theater will mount one of its most interesting and challenging performances with the production of “Information for Foreigners,” which runs Friday, Nov. 21, through Sunday, Nov. 23, at 33 Gallows Lane, a College building normally reserved for business functions, not plays.

The play, written by Griselda Gambaro at the outset of Argentina’s Dirty Wars in the 1970s, is a site-specific tour that leads the audience through a series of harrowing scenes which blur the line between neighbor and enemy, government and mob, even audience and performers. Upon arrival at 33 Gallows Lane, each audience member is placed in a tour group which moves through the space separately, giving each group a totally different experience of the performance.

“It's not every day that you get to unleash a group of creative people on an entire building,” joked the play’s director, Adjunct Assistant Professor of Theater Steve Luber, of the unusual production locale. “Site-specific performance always provides a unique theater-going opportunity. And even though the performance is about a moment in history 40 years ago in South America, I believe the themes that serve as the foundation are just as relevant to an audience here today; questions of the abuse of power, surveillance, and sexual and political violence are all issues we are discussing on campus and in the news.”

Another prevalent theme is that of willful ignorance, knowing that such abuses happen on a daily basis yet quietly turning away from them, either out of fear, self-preservation or ignorance.

“While most of the time our version is not aggressive or mean-spirited, it is still complicity; and that's one important dilemma the audience will face,” said Luber.

His cast includes 18 performers playing more than 60 characters and there are many more students working behind the scenes as designers, crew and in other creative roles.

“What is most exciting to me is the diversity of the cast, in terms of class year, major, background and interests,” Luber said. “This speaks to the strength of Connecticut College students in general, but also to the wide swath of opportunities a show like this provides. The unique logistics, physical-based performance style and political issues at stake have already made this a rich and energizing process.”

Luber and his company are also conducting a concurrent class, “Special Topics in Theater,” during which they have studied the historical and cultural context in which the play was written, worked on dramaturgical projects to enhance the company's and audience's experience of performance, and created a physical vocabulary that is the basis of their demanding show.

“The students have proven themselves generous, empathic and wildly creative, and I cannot wait to see how the show continues to evolve as they bring it to life,” Luber said. “I guarantee the audience will never have had an experience with a play like this before.”

Three of the performances will be followed by discussions with Connecticut College faculty and staff that relate to themes and history addressed in the play and all are welcome to participate:

  • Friday, Nov. 21: Alex Hybel, Susan Eckert Lynch ’62 Professor of Government and International Relations
  • Saturday, Nov. 22 (matinee performance): Ruth Grahn, Associate Professor of Psychology
  • Sunday, Nov. 23: Darcie Folsom, Director of Sexual Violence Prevention and Advocacy

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 21, and Saturday, Nov. 22, with matinees at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 23. Tickets are $12 for general admission and $6 for students, seniors and those with military IDs. For tickets and information, call 860-439-2787.

November 18, 2014