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There’s been so much going on related to the overall project and to the performance that I haven’t managed to post about any of it (and, as usual, other projects have demanded attention), but the time in BsAs has moved Dark Room forward in numerous ways, including the inspiring, intriguing and occasionally perplexing theatre I’ve seen here.While I’m dejected that the upcoming Hemispheric Institute Encuentro in Bogata finally decided that they didn’t want to present Dark Room because they couldn’t find a way to make it available to all 600 participants, I’m elated with how preparations for the piece are going over all, and especially for it’s international premiere at the Performance Studies International meeting in Croatia. The ongoing revelations from the former US administration have been a rich source of material, but I’m also working to keep the piece focused on the broader questions rather than these specific rhetorics. It’s not a documentary drama, after all.

That said, the way in which the debate is moving forward in the US is the very reason the piece exists, and it’s remarkable the extent to which the talking p0ints that were being promoted as early as 2001 are still shaping the discussion. Public opinion seems to be ahead of the media, as well, and another way to think about the piece which I really like is that it’s designed to help audiences recognize what they already know.

The hardest part of the script at this development stage is the transition toward the discussion half. Earlier elements that are shaping up pretty clearly involve considering conditions of imprisonment and imprisonment as a condition for torture, an exploration of the factor of accumulation (“combinations of techniques”) in understanding some stealth tortures as torture, and a section on torture apologetics called “24 ticking time bombs.” The piece is relying more and more on humor as it goes forward, but I’m also, at this point, including evocative images of violence than I thought would be the case a year ago.

Some of the BsAs theatre that I’ve found interesting has directly treated torture, such as a strong 1-actor adaptation of Pavlovsky’s Potestad, and some other less effective work.  But I’ve also seen just a lot of really compelling independent theatre. One piece that is perhaps not that remarkable in the bigger scheme of things gave me a chance to think (and feel) a lot about what it means to get an audience to sit in the dark. This was La Isla Desierta, a Robert Alt play adapted by a theatre of the blind for presentation in complete darkness. I’m n0t sure what I think of this company from a disability theatre studies’ perspective (but I think it’s probably both interesting and complicated). But given how much more a) partial and b) brief is the darkness in Dark Room this show gave me a lot of confidence about helping spectators feel both safe and challenged.

There’s a lot more to say about working in Buenos Aires, and especially about the very present history of human rights abuses that one walks among here. I may post more about it later. But soon I’ll be back at work in the States, and hopefully in the rehearsal room.

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