“Cineastas” to play at the Hopkins Center

by Kourtney Kawano | 1/13/15 5:20pm

What happens when live-action performance and film collide? The result is the comedic and philosophical piece “Cineastas,” which will be performed at the Moore Theater on Thursday at 7 p.m. and Friday at 8 p.m.

Written and directed by Mariano Pensotti, “Cineastas” — which translates to “filmmakers” from Spanish— follows the lives of four Argentine filmmakers over the course of a year as they meticulously craft their respective movies.

Audience members will experience an unusual two-level stage that allows two scenes to occur simultaneously, with the intention to juxtapose the intricate relationship between life and film. One stage will showcase the movies the filmmakers create while the second stage will provide a chance for audiences to get a glimpse into each character’s background story.

Though fictional, “Cineastas” is based on a series of interviews that Pensotti, who is also from Argentina, conducted with Latin American filmmakers four years ago. After compiling the filmmakers’ responses, Pensotti wrote a script that contrasts their personal lives and their films and plays on the emotions felt by the filmmakers throughout the production of their films.

“After I finished the interviews, I wasn’t sure what to do with them,” Pensotti said. “But I knew I wanted to compare life and film.”

“Cineastas” will feature a five-member acting troupe whose members are responsible for multiple roles within the performance. Characters include Gabriele, a world-famous filmmaker, Nadia, a possible one-hit wonder, Mariela, a well-known cult director and Lucas, a lower class filmmaker threatening to expose the wrongdoings of multinational companies to the world. Aside from acting out these main filmmakers’ personal storylines, the actors also have the challenge of serving as the all-knowing narrator and depicting each film created by the characters to give a better look at exactly how fiction and reality collide.

Hopkins Center publicity coordinator Rebecca Bailey said that “Cineastas” will “knock people’s socks off.”

“It will draw audiences into the plot’s drama and humor while commenting on the noble and ridiculous aspects of filmmaking itself,” she said.

While the production is in Spanish, English supertitles will be shown. The dual-language component aims to bridge the gap between American and Latin American cultures as Pensotti — who The New York Times described as “one of Latin America’s brightest theater talents,” — virtually transports viewers into the bustling streets and stages of Buenos Aires in an attempt to make the world seem a little smaller.

Spanish and Latin American, Latino, and Caribbean studies professor Analola Santana said that the production’s intertwining nature asks viewers how they are influenced by what they see in media and film, and vice versa.

“This piece is particularly tantalizing because it provokes us to question the lines between imagination and reality through the characters’ portrayals,” Santana said. “The play will resonate with all who see it.”

The Hopkins Center enlisted the performers of “Cineastas” and Pensotti as part of a residency program to provide aspiring filmmakers and theater enthusiasts with a chance to explore a deeper connection between realism and fiction. The residency included an informal discussion dinner with the cast at La Casa on Monday and a storytelling workshop with Pensotti at the CATV Tip Top building in White River Junction last Tuesday. Additionally, a pre-show talk about Argentina with Santana will take place before Thursday’s show, along with post-performance discussions with the actors.

These sessions will help students interested in film understand more about how media affects our personal lives and give audiences a chance to see how this performance addresses basic human nature, such as our tendencies to experience love, despair and joy.

Maia Salholz-Hillel ’15 said that she is excited for the performance.

“I think the concept is really interesting,” she said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the approach of one media to another.”

“Cineastas” made its debut in Brussels in May, 2013 .