The theater group Diciembre, in At Night We Walk in Circles, sounds a lot like Peru's award-winning independent theater collective, Yuyachkani. Launched in 1971, the group's essential pillars have been political performances, theatrical experimentation and performances steeped in indigenous culture.
Yuyachkani is a Quechua word that means "I am thinking/I am remembering." The company is at the forefront of Latin American theater, and makes education and community issues the cornerstones of its work. One of Yuyachkani's principles is the belief that "an evaluation of the past makes us understand the present." To that end, Yuyachkani has focused its action around one main objective: to contribute to the development and strengthening of civic memory. Recurring themes in its work include economic migration, forced displacement by the internal armed conflict, marginalization, violence, justice, corruption, and authoritarianism.
Yuyachkani's continuing popularity can be explained by its skilful combination of tradition and modernity - applying new theatre principles to timeless tales. The theater group is widely recognized as a research center for Peruvian and Latin American cultural traditions and serves as a laboratory, training actors in the art of the stage. Since its inception, members have been developing their own methodology in areas such as Voice, Mask, Rhythm, and Playwriting, among others.
The group was an active participant in the activism that led to the formation of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Peru, and continues to participate in advocacy around the Commission findings and recommendations; Yuyachkani won Peru's National Human Rights Award in 2000, and has staged performances around the world. It has hosted festivals in Ecuador, Chile, Colombia, Bolivia, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, Cuba, United States, Spain, Estonia, Holland, Germany, Italy, Denmark, and China, among other countries. During a visit to Yale University in 2005, the group presented lecture-demonstrations which included "Gender, Theatre and Activism in Peru", exploring workshops that shine a light on disenfranchised women in Peru. Another, labeled "Theatre, Memory and Community," described the relationship between Yuyachkani and Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Recognized by the Ministry of Culture and Cultural Center, Yuyachkani operates out of a house built in early 1900 in the district of Magdalena del Mar in Lima. The auditorium seats 160 and the building has two exhibition rooms.
First image is Yuyachkani's logo credited to Yuyachakani
Second image is from the Yuyachkani performance of "The Final Rehearsal", a playful take on the history of Peru, from Tallinn City Theatre's 2012 International Theatre Festival
Third image of entrance to Yuyachkani's theatre from Center for Latin American and Carribean Studies at NYU
This article was originally published in November 2013, and has been updated for the
September 2014 paperback release.
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