“Mateluna” is a commissioned work by Hebbel am Ufer, a theater in Berlin, and was created by Guillermo Calderón for the festival “The Aesthetics of Resistance – Peter Weiss 100”. The premiere took place on 28.09.2016 in Berlin. The work-in-progress play focuses on Jorge Mateluna, a former guerrilla fighter who has been in jail since 2013 for allegedly bank robbery. The company already had contact with Mateluna through their previous play “Escuela” and is convinced that he was convicted innocently. In addition to this question of guilt, the positioning of art in relation to political violence is also addressed and questioned, as well as justice in the post-dictatorial republic of Chile.
At the beginning of the piece, all actors except Technical Director Loreto Martinez Labarca are cloaked, wearing colorful T-shirts that they have wrapped around their heads so that you can only see the eye area, similar to a storm mask. These head masks are in contrast to the rest of the costume, which is rather ordinary and anonymous. The primary impression of the audience is strongly influenced by the veiling, associations with guerrilla fighters emerge. In the course of the play, the actors put off their face wrap and back on, but this happens more in passing gestures and is not particularly highlighted. Through the concealment of the facial features, the audience builds up an expectation, creating a distance between the role and the actors, the spectators and the actors, as well as the individual actors. The actors appear more anonymous and interchangeable, but at the same time, it surprises how unclear the boundary between their role and themselves becomes.
Some scenes reenact other (partly fictional) Plays and show their struggle to deal with the topic of a real human who is at present in prison. At the beginning, the company members try to deal with Mateluna’s fault as he risks his freedom by robbing the bank. They can’t understand why he ventures another prison punishment after he had only four years in freedom. By the time they understand that Jorge Mateluna can’t be guilty, there are so many mistakes in the proof guide although he had been sentenced to 19 years in prison. They try to understand what happened and now as they are sure of his innocence they try to draw attention to it.
They did not only perform in Germany but also in Chile and their Performances there were accompanied by many protests. The Chilean Government is already aware of the case and Calderón and his company try to achieve a resumption of the trial. They founded a website called “matelunainocente” where you can read (only in Spanish) everything about this scandal and how you can support them to rescue Jorge Mateluna.
Picture by Mitchel Lensink
Text by Verena