Guillermo Calderón (CHILE)
Guillermo Calderón (Director, Playwright) is Chile’s foremost contemporary theatre artist. His plays include Neva, Diciembre (December), Clase (Class), Villa, Discurso (Speech), Quake and Escuela (School).
Calderón’s productions have toured extensively through South America and Europe. Festival stops have included Buenos Aires International Theatre Festival, Chekhov Festival (Russia), Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Scotland), Festival d´Automne (France), Santiago A Mil (Chile), Seoul Performing Arts Festival (Korea), TeatroStageFest (NYC), TEATERFORMEN Festival (Germany), Wiener Festwochen (Austria), World Theatre Festival (Belgium), The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival (NYC), and RADAR L.A. He has been commissioned by the Schauspiel Duesseldorf (Germany), the Royal Court Theater (England) and Foundation Santiago A Mil (Chile).
His co-written screenplay Violeta won the World Cinema Jury Prize for Drama at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and the International Federation of Film Critics Prize for Best Film at the 2012 Guadalajara Mexican Film Festival. Calderón’s awards include Best Play of the Year (Art Critics Circle of Chile), three Chilean Altazor Awards for Best Playwright and Best Director, and the 2010 Bank of Scotland Angel Award (Edinburgh Fringe Festival), among others.
Calderón graduated with a degree in Arts specializing in Acting from the Universidad de Chile. He studied abroad graduating from the Della’Arte School of Physical Theater in California, USA; and La Scuola Internazionale dell’Attore Comico, in Italy. He also has a Master of Liberal Arts with a specialization in Film, from the City University of New York.
Villa and Speech was published in Theater Magazine (Yale) in Spring, 2013. Neva received its English Language Premiere at The Public Theater in March and its West Coast premiere at Center Theatre Group, in co-production with South Coast Repertory and La Jolla Playhouse, in June. He is currently working on a commission from the Royal Court Theater.
Click here to view a trailer of Violeta.
“The Chilean-born writer and director Guillermo Calderón is an authentic genius of the theatre….you can’t say you’ve heard or seen any of it before, which may make you want to hear and see it again.” – The New Yorker
In a politically charged, haunting interrogation of theater and the revolutionary impulse, writer-director Guillermo Calderón’s NEVA tells the story of Anton Chekhov’s widow, the actress Olga Knipper, who arrives in a dimly light rehearsal room in St. Petersburg in the winter of 1905. As Olga and two other actors await the rest of the cast, they huddle together, act out scenes from their lives and muse on their art form and love—while unseen striking workers are being gunned down in the streets by the Tsarist regime. Calderón savagely examines the relationship between theater and historical context in this ominous and tightly crafted ensemble work that allows a palpable terror to creep through the theater walls.
Premiered at The Public, NYC (2013). Presented at the 2011 TCG conference in association with RADAR L.A., an international festival of contemporary theatre.
“It’s already 1905 and I believe that theater is finished,” declares a seething actress in Neva, which both makes her case and proves her wrong…playwright Guillermo Calderón uses thick needles to weave a densely metatheatrical interplay of artifice and history…Even as it exposes the gaps between the stage world and the world stage, NEVA’s neobrutalist punch demonstrates that power.” – Time Out New York
“…starkly elegant…Calderón’s drama is Chekhovian in the best sense.” – Village Voice
“…brilliant and provocative…Calderón shatters the suspension of disbelief…I don’t know the Spanish equivalent of “the most important organ in my body is my appendix and I want to stick it in your kidney and watch you sweat,” but, I know it sounds breathtaking and ridiculous in English…thrilling.” – Theatre Mania
“…Calderón’s direction remains as concentrated as his writing…NEVA has a dreamlike power…After seeing the play Thursday night, I woke Friday morning still wandering in Calderón’s provocative maze. More conscious of the theater’s limitations as an agent of political change, I found myself marveling at its ability to transcend that limitation by commenting on it.” – LA Times
“The sensitive and subtle direction of Guillermo Calderòn questions, with irony and intimacy, the role of the actor and the function of theatre in the context of a society shaken by violence and repression. Between the terror of the outside world and the depths inside the room, Calderòn’s delicate approach hits the nail on the head.” – Festival De Liege (France)
“NEVA reminds us just how powerful a work of art can be.” — Magazine Artez
“Minimalist theater that comes up big where it counts.”— La Segunda
After the 2010 Chilean earthquake a group of volunteers from Germany come to help with disaster relief. At their base camp they tell a 200-year-old brutal story from their homeland: Heinrich of Kleists’ account of an earthquake in Chile. Their story lands them in the heart of a deep conflict with their surroundings.
Premiered at Schauspiel Duesseldorf, Germany (2012).
“Calderón’s pessimistic comedy slowly uncovers that the four individuals in crisis are hiding behind good intentions and that their idealism is born from pure selfishness. As a director, Calderón succeeds in directing a lively performance with a strong comedic tone.” – WZ (Germany)
During the Pinochet regime in Chile, approximately 5000 detainees were brought to Villa Grimaldi: most were tortured, hundreds “disappeared”. Today, the Villa has been demolished. Three women discuss the future of the site where it once stood. Should it have a new life or remain a memorial to the crimes committed there? How should we remember the violence of the state?
Premiered at Santiago A Mil (2011). Toured worldwide in 2011 and 2012 including a reading at the Royal Court in 2011. Produced at REDCAT (LA) in 2013.
Michelle Bachelet, Chile’s president from 2006 – 2010, makes her farewell speech on leaving office but she is not being as gracious and diplomatic as she should be. Is she saying what she really thinks or is someone putting words into her mouth?
Premiered at Santiago A Mil (2011). Toured worldwide in 2011 and 2012. Produced at REDCAT (LA) in 2013.
Click here for a great article from the LA Times about VILLA + DISCURSO.
“Calderón’s acute reflection on the painful and unresolved aspects of Chilean society constructs a point of view as sober as it exceptional, and VILLA + DISCURSO places him as the most outstanding, suggestive and original protagonist in our contemporary theatre.” – La Tercera
“…examines the shards of memory that stab at the heart of a nation unable to forget…The piece is both impassioned and wry – particularly in its satirical take on the nature of memorials to horror – and while it offers a glimpse of the future for survivors and their relatives, it also points up how hard it is to stop picking at the scars of the past.” – The Guardian
“…an impassioned diptych…a superb poem for three voices.” - The Scotsman
“…jolting incongruities run through the discussion, in which unexpectedly funny moments are followed by references that freeze our smiles…Finely played, humane and without self-pity.” – Financial Times
Christmas Night. Chile. 2014. A soldier arrives home on leave to celebrate with his pregnant twin sisters. One sister doesn’t want him to return to the front lines and wants his permission to hide him. The other sister believes that he needs to return to the war in order to fulfill the patriotic expectations of a country in war. She is ready to denounce her siblings if they go through with a plan that, for her, is treason. DICIEMBRE explores the reality of war and its power to transform the collective conscience and the domestic reality of a household.
Premiered at Santiago, Chile (2008). Toured worldwide, including a hit run in The Public’s Under the Radar Festival in 2011.
“From the roiling imagination of Chilean writer-director Guillermo Calderón comes this politically charged, haunting drama about a near-future war in the Andes…Calderón’s play strips away ostentatious theatrical conceit for us to hear clearly the terror knocking at the door….witty, sharply focused….Mr. Calderón, whose spiky everyday surrealism suggests the young Edward Albee in an unusually laid-back mood.” - The New York Times
“…lurches from the surreal to the poignant…” – The Guardian
“…intimate, thought-provoking theatre in the raw…” - Edinburgh Guide.com
“One of the most brazen plays of Latin American theater in recent years.” – Festival di Internacional de Buenos Aires
“Explores the reality of war and its power to transform collective consciousness and domestic life.” - Caras y Caretas (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
An average high school teacher decides that anyone of his students can teach his class for a day. But there is only one student in the room. Her classmates are in the street marching to fight for better education standards. Facing this dilemma, the teacher decides to continue with his class anyway, and he ends up accidentally and pathetically exposing his political frustrations. Finally, the student asks the permission to present her dissertation, which is the only reason she is not marching with her students. As she speaks she explores the very meaning of education, as the din grows louder outside.
Premiered in Santiago, Chile.