Tuesday 19 July 2016

2016 - Minefield

From left to right. Above:  Triathlon champion Marcelo Vallejo, Warrant Officer Second Class (Ret) Sukrin Rai and Prosecutor Gabriel Sagastume. Below: Dr. Lou Armour, Ruben Otero and Dr. David Jackson./David Fernandez (Clarin May 8, 2016)



Director 1,2,3

The Minefield Director, Lola Arias was born in Buenos Aires in 1976.  Lola says : I´ve been always more interested in writing than acting. My mother is a literature teacher and I read all the time. The idea of telling stories was something very present for me. When I was eight years old I was already part of a literary workshop, and at ten I won my first short story contest with a text called "Lost in my own world¨. 17,18,22

Arias studied literature at the University of Buenos Aires, dramaturgy at the School of Drama and theater with Ricardo Bartis and Pompey Audivert. Lola also studied playwriting in London (Royal Court Theatre) and Madrid (House of America). She  belongs to the Poetics Generation of 2000. 4

Lola Arias, poet, playwright and actress.
(Photograph by Aníbal Grieco) 18

In 2014 she received the Konex Prize - Diploma of Merit as one of the 5 most important figures in the Argentine Writings  discipline "Theatre: Five Years 2009-2013". 4

Regarding her films we have Cien Pesos (Hundred pesos) (2003) and La Prisionera (The Captive ) (2006) 4
She directed Familienbande (2009) about the life of a family with two mothers in the Munich theatre Kammerspiele and That Enemy Within (2010) in collaboration with two identical twins at the HAU theater, Berlin.
I Fought with my twin, That enemy within, 'til Both of us fell by the way (Bob Dylan).

We are all born alone but twins are born together. We all feel unique but the twins are doubles. Twins are an exception of nature that make us think about who we are.
How much of our identity is written in blood? How much it is determined by the environment in which we were created? How much is just random? 1
In Chile, she premiered El año en que nací (The year I was born (2012), based on biographies of young Chilean people born during the dictatorship. Melancolía y Manifestaciones (Melancholy and Demonstrations) (2012), is a journal about the melancholy of his own mother created in Buenos Aires and premiered in Vienna at the Wiener Festwochen Festival. Her last piece El arte de hacer dinero (The art of making money) (2013) is played by beggars, street musicians and prostitutes in the city of Bremen.

In collaboration with the artist Stefan Kaegi , Lola  directed Chácara Paraíso (Paradise Farm) , a biographical installation with Brazilian policemen, and Airport kids, a project about international children in Switzerland. Between 2010 and 2012 she participated in Ciudades Paralelas (Parallel Cities) , a festival with 8 interventions in public space that was held in Berlin, Buenos Aires, Warsaw, Zurich and Copenhagen.

Along with Ulises Conti, she composes music and plays live. Lola recorded the album El amor es un francotirador (Love is a sniper (2007) and  Los que no duermen (Those who do not sleep (2011). Lola published poetry, theater and narrative: Los postnucleares (The post-nuclear)  (Emecé), Striptease, Sueño con revolver   (Dream with a  revolver) , El amor es un francotirador (Love is a sniper (Entropy), Poses para dormir  (Sleeping Positions ) (Anthology dramaturgies ,Entropy.), La familia escuálida ( The squalid Family ) (Libros del Rojas) and Las impúdicas en el paraíso (The unchaste in paradise)  (Tse-tse).

In Striptease (2007) a one year old baby is the protagonist of the play; in Love is a sniper (2008) the actors tell stories of love while playing live rock band. In Mi vida después (My life after ) six players born in the seventies and early eighties rebuild their parents youth from photos, letters, tapes, used clothing, stories and  memories erased. The work moves between reality and fiction and the encounter between two generations. 1,7

La escuálida familia(The squalid family ) was represented at the Rojas Theater in 2001, Estudios de la memoria amorosa ( Studies of loving memory)  was performed at the Experimental Center of the Colon theatre in 2003) and Sueño con revolver (Dream with a revolver ) was displayed at the Royal Court Theatre in London in 2004). 4

Lola Arias texts were translated into more than seven languages ​​and presented at festivals worldwide, such as: Steirischer Herbst, Graz; Festival d'Avignon; Theater Spektakel, Zurich; We are here, Dublin; Spielart Festival, Munich; Alkantara Festival, Lisbon; Radicals Festival, Barcelona: Under the Radar, NY. and art spaces such as: Red Cat LA, Walker Art Center and Minneapolis Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. (Http://lolaarias.com/bio/)

Lola, who wrote his first work at age 10, is convinced that theater should be "a living organism, where things happen all the time, a place where reality is present  and, why not, truth as well. For me art and life are the same thing. " 20

In Los posnucleares (The post-nuclear ) (book of stories) she delves into the everyday of invisible professions (in China, she tells about a woman who cleans and depicts such situation as well in El Sereno (The Night watchman). What I seek is to denature those situations that we consider normal. In this city we have 150,000 security guards, a sign that realizes that we live in a paranoid city where the other is always a threat. 20

Minefield 9,10

About the play says Lola Arias: I don´t care abou the war, I´m interested in the post-war. I care about what happens to a person who went through that experience. I care about the memory he erased and was transformed. Some have become professionals of such stories and my job was and is to get rid of that in order to know what happened to them. 8

Three years ago, Lola was been invited to participate in an event held in London called After the War. 25 worldwide artists participated in a play that was to depict the consequences of war. Lola presented a video installation. She was looking for statements. Her first reference was the book Partes de Guerra (Parts of war) of Graciela Esperanza. From one side and the other of the Atlantic, she added parts to a story which se wanted to become a dialogue.

There were auditioned more than 60 veterans between Buenos Aires and London, of which six were finally chosen. 8

According to Lola "Minefield is a project that brings together Argentine and British war veterans to explore what was in their heads 34 years later. Minefield investigates the marks left by the war, the relationship between experience and fiction , the thousand forms of representation of memory. " 8

One has the idea that the most damaged in the story were the Argentines as they were conscripts without training and proper equipment. Young men who suddenly found themselves amidst a situation for which they were not prepared. When interviewing the British, all professionals, I realized that the mark of war was recorded in all. No matter how well prepared you may be you are never ready to see people dying. 8

Minefield premiered in Brighton (England) from 2 to 11 June 2016 as a coproduction of the Lift Festival, the Brighton Festival, the Royal Court Theatre and UNSAM. The cast was composed of six (Argentine and British) war veterans of the Malvinas  War. The piece was tested in Buenos Aires at the UNSAM Arts Centre and will be released in Argentina on November 2016. 15

Minefield will tour Germany. In parallel, and with functions already agreed for 2017 and 2018 in France and in other European countries, the film Veterans will be made which will show the backstage. 15
Regarding the British critics Dominic Cavendish of The Telegraph wrote: "Minefield is a powerful act of memory" 6

Dominic Maxwell of The Times said: "Unforgettable piece of documentary theater" 19

Natasha Tripney of the The Stage said: The process of making the piece sits close to the surface. The men discuss the scenes they were uncomfortable with re-enacting, the things they chose not to include. Every question that the show raises, about ownership and omission, it anticipates and addresses. It’s very careful in this regard – it takes care. A number of the participants are dealing with post traumatic stress of various kinds and their experiences of this are enfolded into the piece. The act of reliving and remembering is a potent one for all involved, in some cases akin to an exorcism. The memories they relate are sometimes horrifying, sometimes silly, frequently emotive. It’s clear the war still lives within them all. Verdict: Extraordinary piece of memory theatre looking at the Falklands War though the eyes of those who fought in it. 21
Lyn Gardner in The Guardian states that according to Lola, the people who went to fight there were not defending a personal ideology, but simply doing a job for their country.
“The moments of conflict have often been more around their desire to remember and honour the dead and the reputation of the regiments they fought for.” 11
Regarding the Gurkhas Lola Arias said. "If you think the relationship that an army has with the idea of ​​fatherland, you must realize that some of these men who fought for England (Gurkhas) were never recognized. A lot of them could have their residency authorization several years after completion of war. Or if they had a residence they were not allowed to be citizens. They were fighting for a country that did not allow them to live there. 8

A movie will be made a film directed by Lola Arias called Veterans, produced by Gema Films. This will include as many testimonies, records, wounds, futures and reconstructions outside the documentary format. 8

The cast

Gabriel Sagastume

He was around Mount Longdon. Sagastume recalls the death of his peers when going to steal food from the kelpers´ houses. They died by stepping on a mine laid by the same Argentines. After the war he studied law and was a criminal prosecutor. He never wanted to work with cases concerning Malvinas. He wrote a book about his travels to the islands and artistic exchange projects with the islanders. 16

Dr. David Jackson

Dr. David Jackson is a former Royal Marine and during his time in Malvinas he served as a Corporal Signaller in the 3rd Commando Brigade under the orders of Brigadier Julian Thompson.

He spent the war in the back of a truck listening and transmitting radio messages. When he returned, he found that his wife had deceived him and divorced.

Jackson was diagnosed with PTSD and after a medical discharge from Royal Marines in 1995 he trained as a counselor and life coach and he worked within the profession for 14 years.

He studied psychology with the Open University and graduated in 1995 with a BSc(Hons), In 2002 he completed his MA in counselling studies at the UEA writing an autoethnographical exploration of his PTSD.

David is the Co Director of Veteran to Veteran (Turning it around) a community interest group whose aim is to better the lives of war veterans and their dependants throughout the UK. 13. (See British War Veterans Professionals at the Health Center Islas Malvinas)

Marcelo Vallejo
Vallejo as a conscript was a heavy mortar marksman. When he arrived to the islands he had to drag 17 Km. a 500 kilos mortar along with other soldiers. The day of the withdrawal, a bomb killed a friend. When returning he lost his job and had a severe depression which led him to drink. During a trip to the province of La Rioja he took antidepressants with alcohol and threw himself into a dam. He could not swim. Someone rescued him. He learned to swim at age 39. He later became a triathlon champion. Vallejo said: There are no trivial , frivolous or meaningless affairs in the trench .Real miseries and human virtues surfaced, the cold was the same for everyone,  the enemy made no differences of ranks and death lurked at every moment.  5

Warrant Officer Second Class (Ret) Sukrim Rai

Sukrim Rai was part of the , 1st Battalion, 7th Duke of Edinburgh's Own Gurkha Rifles during the conflict. He was in the first line and also addressed accompany doctors helping the injured and recovering the dead. After Malvinas served worldwide: Australia, Hong Kong, United States and Brunei. When he finished his career in the British army he became a security guard in Iraq. He was the last to arrive in Buenos Aires. While being in our city he could meet at the author´s home with Brigadier (Ret) Jaime Ugarte with whom he shared an emotional story in Egg Harbour Place. 14 (See A Nepalese Friend ).

Rubén Otero

As a conscript, he was a crew member of  the cruiser ARA General Belgrano which torpedoed by the submarine HMS Conqueror (See The cruiser) 12. He spent 40 hours on a raft with more than twenty people at temperatures of - 20 ° C. Today he has a printing press and a band tribute to the Beatles. Always plays with a shirt that says: "The Malvinas are Argentine" because he doesn´t  want anyone to think that because he sings in English he is not claiming the islands.

Dr. Lou Armour

Former Sergeant David John ´Lou ´Armour served as Corporal when the Operation Rosario took place on 2 April 1982. Naval Party 8901 at this time comprised just 42 men. Corporal 'Lou' Armour, commanding '1 Section', was positioned at Hookers Point when the Argentines disembarked. Shortly after the attack on Moody Brook, he was ordered to withdraw to Govt House, meeting up with Corporal David Carr's section along the way.

He was captured, sent back to Britain and, with the rest of his comrades, returned to the South Atlantic to join up with the Task Force. Corporal Armour returned to the Falklands with his unit, “J” Company, 42 Commando, as part of the Task Force aboard the Canberra.

He held in his arms an Argentine military in his last minutes of life. Upon his return he left the army.

Lou Armour went to Lancaster university studied Sociology and Art History . He teaches children with learning disabilities. 13

It remains for me to congratulate the Director Lola Arias for her outstanding work which is a step toward reconciliation between Argentine and British  war veterans and send a big hug to the whole cast.
  1. Arias, Lola-Proyectos http://lolaarias.com/proyectos/
  2. Arias, Lola-¿Se puede hacer un autorretrato en el teatro?-La Nación-17 de abril de 2016
  3. Arias, Lola-Cuando la educación se pone en escena-La Nación 15 de Mayo de 2016.
  4. Arias, Lola- Wikipedia. https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lola_Arias
  5. Bentivoglio, Pablo-Ex combatiente de Malvinas correrá el mundial de triatlón-El Depornauta.com. 29 de agosto de 2011.  http://www.eldepornauta.com.ar/ex-combatiente-de-malvinas-correra-el-mundial-de-triatlon/
  6. Cavendish, Dominic-Minefield is a powerful act of remembrance- Review-The Telegraph -29 May 2016
  7. Cruz, Alejandro-Los días después de Mi vida después-La Nación-14 de agosto de 2010.
  8. Cruz, Alejandro-El campo minado de la historia-La Nación 2 de abril de 2016.
  9. Chamy, Constanza Hola- Minefield: la obra de teatro que puso a veteranos británicos y argentinos a revivir la guerra de las Falklands/Malvinas en pleno corazón de Londres-BBC Mundo-3 de junio de 2016
  10. Frías, Miguel- Malvinas: Ex combatientes argentinos e ingleses  reunidos por el teatro. Revista Vivas-Clarín-8 de mayo de 2016.
  11. Gardner, Lyn- Minefield: the Falklands drama taking veterans back to the battle-The Guardian-26 May 2016
  12. Gerding, Eduardo-El Crucero- El Grupo Nottingham-Malvinas. http://malvinasnottingham.blogspot.com.ar/2013/12/2013-el-crucero.html
  13. Gerding, Eduardo-Profesionales y Veteranos de Guerra británicos visitan el Centro de Salud de las FF.AA. Islas Malvinas. El Grupo Nottingham- Malvinas. http://malvinasnottingham.blogspot.com.ar/2016/04/2016-profesionales-y-veteranos-de.html
  14. Gerding, Eduardo-Un amigo nepalés-El Grupo Nottingham-Malvinas. http://malvinasnottingham.blogspot.com.ar/2016/05/2016-un-amigo-nepales.html
  15. La crítica británica elogió la nueva obra de Lola Arias ¨Campo   Minado¨-Noticias UNSAMhttp://noticias.unsam.edu.ar/2016/05/31/la-critica-britanica-elogio-la-nueva-obra-de-lola-arias-campo-minado/
  16. La Plata: El fiscal Gabriel Sagastume, en un recuerdo de la guerra de  Malvinas-Impulsobaires.   http://impulsobaires.com.ar/nota.php?id=88104
  17. Lingenti, Alejandro-Los subsidios oficiales son miserables-La Nación 13 de octubre de 2013.
  18. Lola Arias- Una exploradora de la escena-La Nación- 24 de marzo de 2016. 
  19. Maxwell, Dominic- Theatre: Minefield at the Corn Exchange, Brighton-The Times-May 31, 2016
  20. Scherer, Fabiana-Lola Arias y los seres invisibles-La Nación-31 de diciembre de 2011
  21. Tripney, Natasha- Minefield review at Dome Corn Exchange, Brighton – ‘an exorcism’-The Stage-May 30, 2016
  22. Vallejos, Soledad-Lola Arias: La ciudad te entrena para ser indiferente-La Nación 13 de julio de 2013.