Theatre without anaesthesia
When one enters the website of Rodrigo García, one sees a simple animation of a passenger trying to leave the plane via emergency doors. This is a good metaphor of his creative attitude, which highly values confrontation with what is risky, dark and hidden. García shakes, threatens and offends in order to provoke and build something in the spectator: the willingness to protest, negate and search for an emergency exit from the world subordinated to violence, power and consumption.
Rodrigo García is a director, playwright, actor, scenographer and visual artist. He was born in Buenos Aires in 1964. At the age of 22, he left Argentina to live in Madrid, where he founded his own group, Carnicería Teatro (Abattoir Theatre). Currently, he lives in Asturias. What other artists and the media hide, is of interest to him: remains, waste, backstage, repulsive elements of the world. He is a pessimist and therefore stands so close to what defines a contemporary human, diagnoses our fears, and reaches the spheres of fear and unconsciousness.
In the logic of classification, Rodrigo García is labelled as a ‘brutal surrealist’, ‘provocateur’, ‘terrorist’ and ‘iconoclast’. Scandal - which he himself weaves into his projects - is an inseparable companion to many of his actions. His strategy lies in showing that the contemporary world is the biggest scandal; he uncovers its hypocrisy and brutal logic which reduces everything to a product. Hence, a creative act must take such practices into consideration on purpose. To surprise the audience, catch them in a trap of what escapes possession and consumption one must act without anaesthesia. Instead of naive searches for an adequate answer to already posed questions, he is interested in risk and entrance to the dangerous path of mistake and failure. Only bearing the risk, one may approach something significant.
Behind the expressive and particularly perverse theatrical language, which often makes use of popcultural symbols, there is one of the artists who are most engaged in the dialogue about the contemporary world. García criticises his times with ardour, showing that no one is innocent. We co-create the superficiality and accept the project of the great nothing in which we agree to live. Therefore we are becoming slaves and are stripped of freedom. Rodrigo García was honoured with the Europe Prize New Theatrical Reality in 2009, and not without reason. It is given to artists who present new directions for reflection and expression in modern theatre.
García places the viewer in an uncomfortable position, revealing the hypocrisy of all of us involved in nasty games, exploitation of others, ecstatic consumption and extermination of emotion, bodies and desires. He criticises the Western lifestyle, and the world based on domination, violence and absorption of more goods. García clashes orders and counterpoints; he exploits popculture, bares it and loves it. After all, this is all we have and what still portrays our dilemmas and struggles. His actors are at once critics and advocates for reality and the concrete world here and now. They conduct an ambiguous and harsh game with the audience.
García loves breaking the barriers of perception, good taste and imagination. He uses the narcotic-like dependence on entertainment to torture the spectators, bring them into a catatonia, and show the reversed pleasure and consumption. His texts are told to be ‘exploding like bombs’. They are politically engaged and experiment with the language, revealing its brutality and poetry. In spectacles, the director connects them with overwhelming abundance and powerful visual symbols: scenography, dance, music and very intensive presence of actors. Some of his most famous plays include: ‘Compré una pala en IKEA para cavar mi tumba’ [I bought a spade in IKEA to dig my own grave] (2002), ‘Jardinería Humana’ (2003), ‘Agamemnon’ (2003), ‘Arrojad mis cenizas sobre Mickey’ [Cover Mickey Mouse in my ashes](2006), ‘Versus’ (2008) and ‘Gólgota Picnic’ (2011). In September 2013, his most recent play ‘Daisy’ premiered in Annecy.
For several years now, García is present in European theatre and its most important scenes and festivals (Venice Biennale, Festival d’Avignon, and Festival d’Automne in Paris). In Poland, he showed his plays twice. For the first time – in April 2009, during ‘World as a Place of Truth’ festival in Wrocław, where he was awarded the European Theatre Prize. The audience watched two plays: ‘Accidents: Killing to Eat’ and ‘Cover Mouse Mickey in my Ashes’. They both led to powerful reactions and discussions on what to show in the theatre, where the boundaries of provocation lay. A few months later, García presented ‘Versus’ at the invitation of Nowy Teatr in Warsaw. In 2012, Sacrum Profanum festival was the place of premier of ‘King Lear’. It is a vocal and instrumental project with music of Paweł Mykietyn and libretto of Piotr Gruszczyński, based on the text by Rodrigo García and Shakespeare’s ‘King Lear’.
In 2010, Kraków-based publishing house Panga Pank and Teatr Nowy published a collection of García’s texts translated by Agnieszka Stachurska: ‘Versus, After Sun and Scatter my Ashes in EuroDisneyland’.