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Villa + Discurso

The Hub
4 stars
When writer and director of this Chilean double bill Guillermo Calderon 
introduces his work at the front of the Hub’s intimate purpose-built 
stage, it sums up his entire aesthetic, if not the anger that follows 
in his dialogue. Because at no point is anything hidden by the three 
women who appear in both works that dissect Chile’s post-Pinochet 
legacy, linked by a song as they move the set around in-between the two.

Villa finds the three gathered around a table holding a miniature of 
Villa Grimaldi, the former dictator’s notorious torture house. The trio 
have been co-opted to decide what should happen to the site in a 
democratic Chile. Should Grimaldi be flattened and the land 
re-developed? Or should it be converted into a museum as a reminder of 
the atrocities carried out there? An initial vote is split three ways, 
with one ballot paper spoilt. The fierce debate that ensues reveals far 
more than just the fact that they’re all called Alejandra.

As the three then don the sash of office, they adopt the stance of 
Chile’s real-life post-Pinochet president Michelle Bachelet to give an 
imaginary resignation speech. Spoken both separately and in unison, 
only love and sex are off the agenda in what might well be the most 
honest political speech you’ll never hear.

Both plays demand attention via a dense melange of symbols, grand 
gestures and state of the nation addresses that aren’t without wit 
beyond Calderon’s impassioned exchanges and stark staging. When an 
older woman joins her comrades onstage, the play itself becomes a 
monument, not just to the brutality and hypocrisy of the past, but to 
reconstructing a future that’s only just begun.

The Herald, August 21st 2012



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Villa in Split

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