Latin American Women Dramatists: Theater, Texts, and Theories

By Catherine Larson; Margarita Vargas | Go to book overview

Social Critique and
Theatrical Power in the Plays
of Isidora Aguirre

Adam Versényi

A product of the university theater movement that began in Chile in 1941, Isidora Aguirre (b. 1919) first appeared on the Chilean stage in 1955 as one of three university-trained women playwrights. In an attempt to break the stranglehold maintained by costumbrismo [local customs, or literature of manners] on the Chilean stage, the various university theaters (Teatro Experimental de la Universidad de Chile, Teatro de la Universidad Católica, and Teatro de la Universidad de Concepción) had set out to create a new class of theater professionals. This new group, while conversant with classical material and the international repertory, would be able to approach Chilean themes and topics with a fresh eye and a greater technical sophistication. A further impetus behind the work of Aguirre and her two compatriots, María Asunción Requena and Gabriela Roepke, was to aid in the creation of a new kind of theater audience. This audience, as opposed to the elite, aristocratic audience of the past, would be composed of both the Chilean middle and working classes. Theater would attempt to present such an audience with plays and productions that spoke directly to its own sense of history, its own sense of self, and its own deepest concerns. Along with other university-trained playwrights such as Alejandro Sieveking, Jorge Díaz, Sergio Vodanovic, Fernando Debessa, Egon Wolff, and Luis Alberto Heiremans, Aguirre and the other two women playwrights embarked upon a journey to uncover, by theatrical means, the Chilean soul (Boyle 26–31).

Since the mid-fifties, Aguirre’s production has been vast and varied, reflecting her training not only in theater, but also in social work, folk-

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