A dozen of Chile’s most promising playwrights have been getting a helping hand from one of the world’s most well-known theaters, and that work has finally come to fruition. Earlier this month, five of their plays were selected for a series of readings in London to showcase modern Chilean drama.
The Royal Court Theatre, which first opened in 1870, is renowned for its contributions to modern drama. For the last decade the theater has focused heavily on building relationships around the world after it started receiving funding from the British Council, a non-profit that specializes in international education and cultural cooperation.
As part of those efforts, the theater, in conjunction with Chile’s National Culture and Arts Council and the Santiago a Mil Foundation, began working with playwrights in the Andean nation in April 2012. The collaboration was aimed at jumpstarting their writing of works based on the country’s diverse national experience and unique modern history.
That cooperation developed into direct meetings over the last year between a dozen young Chilean playwrights and the British writers Leo Butler and Nick Payne. The pair, who are among the most noted contemporary British dramatists, have been described as two of the “great British hopes” by the London newspaper The Times.
Butler and Payne travelled to Santiago three times with Royal Court Theatre director Elyse Dodgson to work alongside the group of Chilean dramaturges, and five of the plays they produced were read at the famous Royal Court Theatre in London in early September.
The plays, which were read as part of an event titled “New Plays from Chile,” dealt with struggles the modernizing nation faces such as relationships with indigenous communities, the memory of the nation’s dictatorship which ended in 1990 and the coming of age for Santiago’s youth in a globalized world.
Among the plays showcased were Red Set by Florencia Martínez about a family struggling with remembering a family member in a coma, Negra, The General’s Nurse by Bosco Israel Cayo about a dead dictator’s personal nurse, and That Thing I Never Shared With You by Claudia Hidalgo about a father explaining his dark past to his once-estranged daughter. Alongside these were also Ñuke by David Arancibia about a mother in the indigenous Mapuche community and Chan! by Camila Le-Bert about two young Chileans who fell in love while abroad but whose relationship falls apart when they return to Santiago.