Arts and culture

Chilean author, playwright and actor leaves Canadians breathless

After winning CBC Radio’s Canada Reads award, Carmen Aguirre went on the road with a one-woman show that is wowing critics everywhere.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012 Category: Daily life - Culture - Entertainment

Video courtesy of Nightswimming Theatre / Youtube.

When Carmen Aguirre won CBC Radio’s Canada Reads award on February 9, 2012, it gave many Canadians a name to go along with the face that they got to know in the popular television series Endgame, in which she played a leading role.


That is, of course, unless they were theater aficionados, or from Aguirre’s adopted city of Vancouver, in which case, they probably already knew who she was.


Despite her recent entrance into the spotlight, Aguirre is an accomplished playwright with over 20 plays to her name. Much of her subject matter deals with her tumultuous childhood, in which she and her family were forced to flee their own country after of Chile’s military coup in 1973.


Aside from shaping her theatrical career, the momentous event is also the subject of her award-winning autobiographical novel, “Something Fierce: Memoirs of A Revolutionary Daughter.”


The book deals with her parents’ decision to return to Chile from Canada, the country in which they had taken refuge, to join the revolutionary underground in 1979, when Aguirre was just 11 years of age.


Traveling between Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Chile as her family sought to evade General Augusto Pinochet’s secret police, the book also details the author’s decision to join the resistance herself, at the age of 18.


Just months after winning the CBC award, Aguirre launched her latest play, Blue Box, which draws much of its material from the same experiences, but with a significantly different twist.


Blue Box, Aguirre’s latest play


“Coincidentally, a lot of the content of Blue Box is similar to the book,”Aguirre told Straight.com, “but it’s written in a different voice, for sure—it’s more satirical, more adult. It’s sparse, and the actor in me wrote it, not the writer.”


This time around, the story is told while artfully intertwined with a fiery love affair Aguirre had years later.


"I'm exploring the theme of unconditional love and the tension between revolutionary love and romantic love," Aguirre told the Vancouver Courier. "It's about loss, ultimately. And it's about desperation."


Now traveling Canada, the show was launched in Vancouver on May 1, and is already wowing critics.


What the critics are saying


“Carmen Aguirre wins again with Blue Box,” writes The Province. “The play pivots on the fascinating contradictory impulses in this one person: the selfishness of sexual passion versus the selflessness of passionate revolutionary commitment.


And if the work itself isn’t winning over critics, Aguirre’s intense charisma certainly is:


“Let’s just say upfront that Aguirre is the hottest, most luscious performer you can imagine. Wavy, raven hair frames sparkling dark eyes and a killer smile,” writes The Vancouver Courier.


“Guys melt and when she throws in a couple of sinewy salsa moves the temperature in the room goes through the roof. She’s been described as ‘a hot tamale’ but that doesn’t go far enough. Tamales aren’t, as far as I know, smart, funny and sexy and Aguirre is all of these,” the smitten critic writes.


For information on tour dates and locations, click here.

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