Guerrilla is a show that is essentially three consecutive crowd scenes. First we see an audience during an artist talk. Then we watch a Tai Chi class. And finally, a rave scene. Sur-titles are used throughout these scenes to describe the world that they are taking place in, which is World War Three in the year 2023.
Of the 60-70 volunteers on the stage taking part in these scenes, none are central to the story. We do, admittedly, read some anecdotes about some of them, but even that doesn’t really make them characters. They are still bystanders. We are all bystanders and the story is the story of a society and not the individual. Society is the central character and we get to contemplate that. Brecht would have approved.
And Brecht is interesting in the context of this play. In one of his last essays before he died, he said that “the present-day world can be reproduced even in the theatre, but only if it is understood as being capable of transformation.” Guerrilla is basically doing just that, by placing very commonplace, recognisable scenarios (and actual real commonplace humans) in the context of a dystopian future in 2023.
The text was certainly nihilistic, and described a very nihilistic outlook for mankind, but to describe the show as nihilistic, I think would be a mistake. The show was a provocation. It deliberately remains at the level of socio-economics, and does not provide us with any real insight into what it means to be human in this future being described. This is a tactical omission I believe.
The proof of its success was that people afterwards were discussing big questions that we normally (because we’re so ironic and worldly) dismiss as teenage. Why are we alive and whether there really is no meaning in the world, etc. This was great. More shows should result in that.
Dick for DRAFF
Guerrilla by El Conde de Torrefiel ran at Project Arts Centre, Dublin from September 30 - October 2, as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival. [www.elcondedetorrefiel.com]