Teatro Mapuche El Katango
Lorena Cañuqueo, Miriam Álvarez, Ana Vivaldi
The Mapuche Theatre Group "El Katango" emerged in 2002, in the Patagonian city of Bariloche, as part of a trajectory of activism that aimed to question stereotypes about indigenous people produced by the state and the Mapuche movement itself. Katango is the name of a traditional ox- or horse-pulled cart commonly used by Mapuche families in rural areas to get around.
The name was chosen as a metaphor for how Mapuche moves around as a survival strategy. The network sought to make visible the urban presence of the Mapuche and raise awareness about the complex web of relationships that are established in the present and the diverse ways of being and expressing that identity. To dismantle an image of Mapucheness that excluded a large percentage of the Mapuche population, they decided to use theatre, communication, and academic research.
El Katango's work builds a poetic language by investigating gestural repertoires. It works from Mapuche people’s images and memories of forced displacement and family and community ties rupture. The dramaturgical work explores a vast repertoire of narratives, oral memory (including the actress and their families), and archival work. Using these methodologies, the group sought to mobilise the large percentage of the Mapuche population that was marginalised from the discourse and political action of Mapuche organisations at the beginning of the 21st century.
In more than ten years of work, El Katango has staged the works Kay kay egv xeg xeg (2002), a rereading of a story of Mapuche origin, Tayiñ kuify kvpan - Our Ancestral Ascendency- (2004) and Pewma - Dreams (2006), all based on collective playwriting oriented by Miriam Álvarez. The work incorporates two experiences of street theatre in the city of Bariloche that territorialised ceremonial aspects in the city and generated a critique of hegemonic identity models.
During the collaborative work with CARLA, Miriam Álvarez produced two scenes. Las hierbas (The Herbs) addresses present territorial conflicts and focuses on the relationship between the countryside and the city and the daily life of Mapuche care practices. This scene can be seen in the video included in the exhibition. The other, Como dos gotas de agua (Two Peas in a Pod), proposes an innovative crossing between a Mapuche's displacement experiences and an Afro woman.
The women exchange their experiences of forced movement generated by state agents and other actors. At the same time, the current focus on gender, thanks to the rise of the feminist movement since the beginning of the 21st century, allows racialised women's daily experiences to be put on the agenda. These women come together on the scene, breaking an official history that makes the Afro-Indigenous mix unthinkable in Argentina.
Authorship and direction: Miriam Álvarez
Interpreters: Lorena Cañuqueo and Miriam Álvarez
Audio-visual production: Natalia Cano
Research: the scenes were created from the collaborative analysis of Alejandra Egido, Miriam Álvarez, Lorena Cañuqueo and Ana Vivaldi, part of the CARLA project Clandestine drama. The dramatic text was written within the dramatic writing workshop dictated by David Arancibia and part of Clandestine Dramaturgy. Clandestine Dramaturgy is a scenic and publishing research group.