Federico León, Artistic Shantytown

Federico León

Buenos Aires Artistic
Shantytown Project

The film

June 2005 - Federico León, 2002-2003 Theatre Protégé

Federico León’s work, Buenos Aires Artistic Shantytown Project, premiered at the Hebbel Theatre in Berlin on 2 June 2005.

León’s first experiment with installation art – a medium inspired by his collaboration with mentor Robert Wilson – this work is constructed around his new documentary film about artistic activity in a Buenos Aires shantytown. In addition to the film screening, there was a related photo exhibition and a video installation.

At the same event, León launched the English version of his book, Registers: Collected Plays & Other Writings.

Federico León

Buenos Aires Artistic
Shantytown Project

The video & photography exhibition

June 2005 - Federico León, 2002-2003 Theatre Protégé

Before and after the screening of his documentary film, León surrounded the audience with images of the people who live in this area and of their way of life. Thus spectators could study a gallery of portraits and watch a video demonstrating how to build a shanty in real time.

Federico León

Buenos Aires Artistic
Shantytown Project

The book

June 2005 - Federico León, 2002-2003 Theatre Protégé

Registers: Collected Play & Other Writings brings together a variety of Federico León’s writings: theatre scripts, a screenplay and extracts from interviews and reviews of his work. This collection shows that, in less than ten 10 years Federico León has made a significant and lasting contribution to Argentinean theatre and cinema.

Extract 1 / I (Interview)

I think it’s important for plays to find their own form organically. The processes involved are long-drawn out and nothing’s predictable; everything has to be open to modification; everything has to be sifted by the filter of verification, by what passes between actors and directors at rehearsals. The same way I advance without knowing what the final destination is when I rehearse, the audience doesn’t grasp what they’ve seen rationally after the performance is over. Reception works in the same way as the training of an actor and the process of a play – by the accumulation – and then, at one point, a penny drops, something settles – untidily, chaotically, intuitively, sensorially.

An actor’s education is about the look he gets. There’s an intuitive corpus that absorbs and develops a certain kind of intelligence. An actor’s training is about responding to and analysing everything circulating onstage: their interaction with the other actors, the audience’s perception, the spatial or lighting cues they have to negotiate.

It isn’t about the individual performance, about teach actor going walkabout; there’s a group energy. You’ve got to be able to let yourself be influenced by and come to terms with the energy, because it’s different every performance - the audience is different every performance and the actors are different every performance.

Extract 2 / Country Smack (Theatre script)

DAUGHTER

I don’t mind staying awake a bit longer if it…

MOTHER

Alright. (Pause.)

DAUGHTER

I’ve been thinking. (Pause.) and I think I’d rather have my cassette recorder.

MOTHER

What? It suggests a whole array of games. You just don’t want to see the fun in it. Look. Mother points at The Countryside.

DAUGHTER

Yes but, my cassettes, my poster on the wall, the ornaments, the pillow, my cushion, my… creature comforts.

MOTHER

I packed the toys away, understand? There are no more toys. (Pause.) They’re toys that go out of fashion and then pile up in the cupboard. They should be on their way to province by now. We couldn’t bring everything.

THE COUNTRYSIDE

Can’t be wanting her comfort, in the countryside she is. (Pause.) She has to understand that, ma’am.

MOTHER

Naturally! The Countryside, the creature comforts. You’ll have to get used to playing with simple things here. You just don’t see the fun even though there are ten fun games to play at least. I’ll list five for you: you jump round it until you feel tired, physically tired then you keel over sideways and you’re asleep… Erm…(Silence. She thinks.) Aren’t there any others? There must be some others to play!

THE COUNTRYSIDE

A ballbearing can take on indescribable shapes in there parts. You can have bags of fun.

DAUGHTER

Where do I get one?

MOTHER

It’s just an example.

DAUGHTER

I want a ballbearing. Where do I get one?

THE COUNTRYSIDE

Drop it, baby.

MOTHER

Make little dolls. Rag dolls. That’s it. Go and work with the tow; such a… mysterious… material…

DAUGHTER

But mama.

Extract 3 / Fifteen Hundred Feet Above Jack’s Level (theatre script)

MOTHER

So?

GASTÓN

I couldn't see a thing. I couldn't find the light switch.

MOTHER

You’re useless, I told you to take the torch.

GASTÓN

I’m worried in case they notice, Mama.

MOTHER

Everybody does it. We must be the only ones without cable. You get up on that roof tomorrow night, when no one can see you, and get that aerial connected. How many channels have we got?

GASTÓN

Four, five there’s one we can’t get.

MOTHER

That’ll be the one, it’s bound to be on that one. I want to see him even if it is a repeat. (Pause.) Have a look and see if it’s on.
Silence, the mother watches television.

MOTHER
You can go five minutes without the picture steaming up. That set’s got water inside it, he gave it to me…

Extract 4 / IT ALL TOGETHER (Screenplay)

(Long silence.)

I’ve been thinking. I’ve told my Mum. Now

I’m telling you. Call me back. 4854 0798.

(She hangs up. The telephone rings. J answers.)

What took you? Come over. I don’t agree. I’ll call Ana Laura.

I can remember it.

(She hangs up and redials.)

Hi, Ana, I’m in a bar. On a public phone. The number’s

4854 0798.

(She hangs up.)

3.INT.ROOM.NIGHT.

A TV set filling the whole screen shows the paused image of the smiling F being congratulated in the video of the first scene. The reflection of the room can be seen in the TV. A door can be heard closing. The video is unpaused and plays on. F is opening the pig. F rests flat on his back on the grass. Countryside images, trees, animals.

4.INT.BAR.NIGHT.

F comes in, goes over to a table and sits down. F and J sit in silence. F goes over to the telephone and dials a number.

F

Hi. We’re fine, Dad. I don’t know if she’s eaten. She ordered a coffee. I’ve got enough. Don’t come. I’ve got enough. Go and have a lie down.

F hands J the receiver.

J

Hi. I’m fine, Rubén. Yes. I’ve been thinking. Hard.

(Long silence.)

Ok.

J hands the receiver back to F.

F

I’ve got enough. On top of the fridge? All right. You wanted to talk to her. Don’t wake her up. All right.

(Silence.)

Hello. We’re fine, Mum. We’re going to talk. She ordered a coffee. Yes. Bye. Just me. No. Don’t ring her. Don’t ring. Go and have a lie down both of you I’ll ask her if she wants anything to eat.

(He hangs up. Long silence. He goes over the table and sits down. Silence.)

Want anything to eat?

The telephone rings. answers,

Mum. How are you? I called Ana Laura but she isn’t in. Did they wake you up? Has Rubén rung you? I love you lots too. Yes. I’m staying here, we’re going to talk. Don’t know.

Read more about Federico León