Matemurga, the long journey of a community theater group | He is on tour, shortly after having 20 years of experience

the community theater group Matemurga (currently made up of more than 80 residents of all ages) was the protagonist of a special event: the Villa Crespo ensemble led by the playwright, singer and musician Edith Scherbecame the second Argentine cast of these characteristics to arrive in Europe (especially in Portugal) to carry out workshops and presentation of their show injured neighborhood. One of the shows took place on April 9 in Largo do Carmo, Faro, and the other will take place this Thursday in Praça da Alegria, Porto. This is a very special and unusual event. The only antecedent of this type of tour took place in 2001 in the presentation made by the Catalinas Sur Theater Group in Barcelona. In turn, the possibility of traveling is the result of a lot of effort and a few months before the group completes 20 years of tireless work. 20 years, as Scher says, “of broadening the horizon of the possible and building with others”.

“When our story began, in August 2002, it was a huge motivation for us to appreciate the achievements of the Catalinas Sur Theater Group and the Barracas Cultural Circuit, our older brothers. I think that having achieved this goal encourages community theater in general and fuels the possibility of dreaming,” says Scher.

Wearing show functions injured neighborhood a Portugal has its roots in the travels made by the director, who has twice given workshops and directed in this country. “I traveled to Portugal to transmit the practice of community theater in 2013 and 2018. The first time in Santa Maria da Feria and the second in Faro. On both occasions, I was invited by Hugo Cruz, director of the MEXE Festival. From the start, I felt that Portugal was a country where community theater could flourish,” he says.

From these exchanges was born the possibility of facing a common production. “I discovered that there was already an experience of community theater in Quarteira (a town near Faro) whose director, Miguel Martins Pessoa, had been in Buenos Aires, had seen us and had been very enthusiastic. I spoke with Rui Gonçalves, from the Teatro Das Figuras, where the activity took place, and we agreed that, if we could afford our tickets, we would have accommodation, food and everything necessary to artistic production in Portugal. I would come a month before and work with people from Faro, co-lead with someone from there, to merge into a joint project with Matemurga,” explains Scher. So he returned to Buenos Aires and proposed the idea to his colleagues. Out of sheer luck, with minimal help from grants, they managed to collect the money to travel.

I remember very well that once Ricardo Talent, director of the Cultural Circuit of Barracas, told me that you should not do what you could, according to the resources at your disposal, but that you had to be able to imagine what you wanted to do and then see how you would get the resources to achieve. It stuck with me and has been a focus of my work ever since. Being excessive with dreams. Pursue them, find a collective way to make them happen,” Scher recalls.

Community theater is theater by neighbors for neighbors, a practice that emerged with the birth of the group Catalinas Sur (1983) and was strengthened with the appearance of the Cultural Circuit of Barracas (1996). In the case of Matemurga, the group was born in 2002, from a call from Scher. In 2006 it began to take root in Villa Crespo and since 2015 it also has La Orquesta del Mate, directed by Yamila Bavio, and which offers various training workshops (wind instruments, guitar and percussion). In 2016 it also added a puppeteer group led by Sergio Ponce.

“Matemurga is a space of happiness for a large number of people and has the potential to be so for many more. In a world where most of the things that determine our lives are decided by others, having the possibility of to play, to build with others, to create, to transform our lives, is something that is priceless. Community theater invites you to imagine other possible universes, opens a way for the community, drawing on memory, identity, celebration, to generate a story, generate fiction and poetically express its view of the world. Matemurga invites us to dream of other worlds and to pursue this dream”, sums up Scher about the collective experience.

-What does this trip mean for the group and for you in particular?

-For the group, this trip is the realization of a dream and the confirmation of collectively achieving objectives that are impossible to achieve alone. This is a very important achievement, linked to the excess of the logic of community theater which always goes further. For me, this trip involves an indescribable emotion, a strong commitment, a way of establishing myself in life, with my companions, defying the immobility of what seems immobile, a way of reconciling a more beautiful, more united existence. , more independent and more intense.

-What assessment do you make 20 years after the creation of this project, also taking into account the different political contexts it has gone through?

-It was 20 years of permanent growth. Of course, political contexts change and influence and there are times that are more complex than others, but it is perseverance, work, conviction and collective strength that has sustained Matemurga. The hardest thing to understand is that art is not filler or complement when other more important things are resolved. Nor is it a means or a tool. Rather, it is a transformative practice in itself. The community has a right to art. The results are very positive. Matemurga has transformed our lives and created a solid framework for projects to be born within the big project. It will continue to grow and expand. It will excite others, it will set new goals.

-What plans do you have for the future after the tour?

– This year, we will be performing several pageant functions of the group. Our community orchestra, La Orquesta del Mate, will give concerts and the group of community puppeteers, Los Títeres del Mate, will present their show. In May, we will open new artistic production spaces: dance and community theater for teenagers. We will also publish a book we wrote during the pandemic (our third book) and we will complete an audiovisual version of our show lack of airreleased in December 2021. We are also about to record an album titled Pandemic Songs, a material composed and written at that time. Of course, we will also have a big party in August, our anniversary month, and we will close the year with a street court with a function or a concert.

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