On Saturday night we went to a converted warehouse in La Boca to see some community theatre. The group Catalinas Sur, formed in 1983 by a group of residents from the neighbourhood, were performing their sell-out musical of a hundred years of Local history (1930-2030!) Fulgor Argentino.
Although the production had many of the hallmarks of a community production; about 100 people aged 3-83 in period costume belting out one rousing tune after another, this is definitely Am-dram with a difference. Fulgor isn’t just a musical history, it’s full-blown clarion call for a return to utopian politics:
“With the advent of this globalized and inhumane millennium, we are attempting, through the theatre, to remember the value of our individual and collective histories, and revive the memory that believed and believes in a better world.”
The people putting their time into this project are as devoted to the politics of changing things for the better in their neighbourhood and beyond as they are to putting on the shows. We spoke to the director and two of the puppet-makers from the group about what they do and the vibrant community arts scene in Buenos Aires.
Catalinas Sur is just part of a growing network of community groups that aim to use the arts for social change. This new Utopianism, while optimistic, tries not to be naive; a magazine (La Mestiza) launched recently on the subject with a debate on whether this is a movement that can ever really bring change, or little more than a picturesque dose of political correctness in a fundamentally broken society.