Powerful production Minefield is coming to York Theatre Royal this month. I was lucky enough to receive a syndicated interview with director Lola Arias, discussing the show…
What were your reasons or your need as an artist to create a piece from a conflict like the Falklands / Malvinas War?
I grew up singing the verses of the Falklands March in the school: The Falklands are Argentinian, the wind cries and the sea roars, studying with a map of Argentina with the islands drawn as part of our territory, remembering the dead soldiers every 2nd of April. I grew up with the feeling that someone had stolen part of our country. But beyond this nationalistic fervour learned in school, I did not know much about the war, what the soldiers had experienced, how was the post-war for the veterans.
The work was a way of thinking about what the war meant for those who fought and those who stayed watching television. Minefield is a study on the collateral effects of war on a group of veterans and on society. It is also a social experiment, to see what happens if we join old enemies to reconstruct history.
Everything that an artist uses as documentary material, at the moment of giving it a form, inevitably becomes a fiction. Can you tell us about this delicate relationship between fiction and documentary?
At the very moment that someone tells his life, it is transformed into a fiction. Each person has a way of telling, of writing their own life. In some way, I rewrite other people’s lives from successive interviews, meetings, and rehearsals. And then I go gathering pieces to put together a single story of many lives.
In the process, each of the protagonists receives their own life transformed into a text and begins a complex process of negotiations between what they want to say and what they do not. As they begin to repeat the text, a strange phenomenon begins to take place, a distancing between the person and what he narrates. Then he begins to see his life from the outside, to think of it as a story among others.
How do you conceive the relationship between art and memory in your works?
Minefield is like no other of my projects; a time machine. The protagonists return to a historical moment to represent what they lived. Somehow the spectators also do that exercise when they see the play. They go back, they think about where they were and what they did when they narrated things. In a way, the theatre becomes a collective memory exercise.