Actor, director, playwright, Alberto Ísola answers us – via email – some questions about the new reality in the world of theater. In his teaching role, he dictates Peruvian Theater: 17th to 19th centuries for the Cultural Center of the Catholic University.
After the pandemic, is there a before and after in the theater?
Obviously, we cannot pretend nothing has happened. I think that like everything, it is a return to what was before, but in a different way. This time has helped us to think a little about the way we do theater, in the public, how we get to it, what is its meaning, the need for theater, what other ways we have to do theater and reach other audiences. But there are also questions that go further, questions about public health, about sociality, about the health budget, there are many questions to ask. If I had to summarize, it would be to go back to what it was supposed to be like before, but with completely different eyes and with a will to change.
What was lost and gained with virtual functions?
He gained a different way of doing theater, also different with its values, he gained the possibility of reaching another audience, suddenly the possibility of doing performances that could be seen by people in other parts of the country or the world who suddenly could not. They were able to access the theater and that is also good, I believe they gained inventiveness, discovery of resources, also a deeper appreciation of the true meaning of theater.
Do you think that we should get used to the new rules (reduced capacity, virtual reality …), or should we long for and wait for the shows as they are before March 2020?
Longing is not a verb that I personally like. I do not like longing, I do not like nostalgia, I think they are very commendable feelings, but they prevent us from moving forward. I think that you don’t have to get used to the new rules, but you have to get the most out of them and turn them into something creative. I do not think that the world to which we return and we are returning can be the same, as well as the theater, it will never be the same. But I also believe that we must assume them with a look to the future and with a lot of creativity.
Many actors who did virtual performances stressed that what was most difficult for them was not seeing the public, not listening to them. What do you think has been the biggest challenge for an actor or actress in the era of virtuality?
I think it is correct, I think the most difficult thing and I have done it as an actor even though mine was a recording, it was not direct, but I have felt it in classes, in exercises, and of course the hardest thing was the absence of feedback, a feedback that is often silent. In the theater, spectators and actors share the same air and one feels even the slightest vibration, it is something that is perhaps difficult to describe for someone who has not felt it, but definitely that has not been felt at this stage. What one feels in a virtual way is different, one never even knows if people are really there or not. I think that was the most difficult of all. I think it is what one misses the most because it is also what gives the theater its meaning, that breathing the same air and somehow beating at the same time.
What is the Peruvian Theater cycle: 17th to 19th centuries about? Who is it for?
The course is an approach to the history of theater, from what one can know about its beginnings or imagine why everything changed with the arrival of the Spanish through a detailed reading of some texts. It is true that theater is much more than a literary text, but texts often allow us to form an idea of a theatrical reality. It is aimed at anyone who is interested in our theater, our history. ❖