TEATRO DE CHILE is motivated by the need to generate creative processes focused on experimentation and scenic research.
The group began working professionally in 2001 in Santiago de Chile. Its initial formation consisted of actors and theatre designers from the Theatre Department of the University of Chile. Their first play, PRAT (2002) -a revision of the life of the national hero Arturo Prat, which was written by Manuela Infante and directed by Manuela Infante and María José Parga – caused an unprecedented turmoil in the Chilean political and social spheres, and thus captured widely the attention of the media. The show obtained the first place in the “Víctor Jara” Festival for Playwrights and Directors (2002) and earned its funding from the National Funds for Culture and the Arts (FONDART).
Later, continuing along the lines of the historical characters, and furthering the development of a particular work methodology, Teatro de Chile engaged in the creation of the play JUANA (2004) – revision of the life of Joan of Arc-. This second piece was also financed by FONDART. Written and Directed by Manuela Infante, JUANA was widely applauded by critics and audiences, and was awarded a mention of honor by the Circle of Art Critics of Chile. In addition, JUANA was selected as one of the best plays of the year for the International Festival Teatro a Mil (FITAM) that took place in Santiago, Chile. Both these plays, PRAT and JUANA, were published in 2005 by Cierto Pez Editions as part of their Collection of Contemporary Chilean Dramaturgy (Prat seguida de Juana, Colección Dramaturgia Chilena Contemporánea, 2005, Santiago, Chile).
In 2005 Manuela wrote NARCISO sponsored by the National Fund for Literature. This play, also directed by Infante, was premiered in August that same year in Santiago. NARCISO as well was funded by FONDART. In this project the group enquired upon contemporary theories regarding the modern and postmodern subject, developing a new and strong accent on physical work. With this play Manuela achieved two Altazor awards (highest national recognition given by artists to artists), for dramaturgy and direction. NARCISO was then invited to the International Festival of Cadiz, Spain, for which the group obtained the financial support of the Direction of Cultural Affairs of the Ministry of Exterior Relations of Chile. After two successful presentations at this festival the group toured around Spain and Holland, presenting the piece in: Teatro de los Manantiales in Valencia, Festival Universitario de León, Sala Alcalá in Madrid and Ambigú in Valladolid, Center for International Studies in The Hague, Holland. During this tour NARCISO was officially invited to many festivals, one of such was the Theatre StageFest of New York, where it was shown in June 2008.
In 2006 REY PLANTA, a play written by Infante and directed by Juan Pablo Peragallo (also an actor in Teatro de Chile), was premiered. REY PLANTA was a monologue that dealt with the notion of invisible power and the mechanisms by which it operates in contemporary life. This piece was also regarded highly by the public and the specialized critics, also being part of the official selection of the Santiago a Mil Festival in 2007. In 2008 REY PLANTA was translated and published in Italian by Il Re! Editions.
The company’s fifth production was CRISTO. This play, as Teatro de Chile´s previous projects, was the result of a long period of scenic investigation in which theoretical research and practical work give birth to the creation of a dramatic text from “inside” the creative process. CRISTO also initiated the group’s experimentation with audiovisual mediums. The creation of this piece was divided into two phases: the first took place in Amsterdam, Holland during the first months of 2007 concluding with 4 performances of a work in progress called “IT IS NEVER THE LAST SUPPER” in the Theater of the University of Amsterdam. The second phase took place in Santiago, Chile resulting in the piece CRISTO which was premiered at Centro Cultural Matucana 100 during the first trimester of 2008. With this production Teatro de Chile confirmed and consolidated its place in the Chilean Theatrical scene receiving several invitations to various festivals in Europe and Latin America, and the recognition from the critic and the public.
During 2008 the group participated with CRISTO in the 51st. edition of the Festival de Dos Mundos in Spoleto, Italy. This initiated a deeper exchange with Italian producers that also included the artistic residence in which Manuela Infante -in coproduction with Centro Experimentale di Cinematografia, Instituto Italo-latinoamericano, the festival of Modena y and Quartieri dell arte festival- created the piece FIN.
In 2009 Teatro de Chile was invited to restage the plays JUANA, NARCISO and CRISTO, as part of a retrospective of their trajectory. This same year the company was invited to participate in the 2nd version of “Container Theatre Festival”, held in Valparaiso. It is in this context that Teatro de Chile premiered ARTURO, a review of their first work, Prat (2002).
Simultaneously, the company worked on ERNESTO, a play commissioned by the Santiago a Mil Festival in the context of a special bicentennial edition of the festival. This play -originally written in 1842- was premiered in January, in a version written by Infante that proposed a profound questioning of the construction of national identity. “Ernesto” revisits passages of the original play but is more a re-writing of the piece where the whole staging (movement, action, emotion, lighting, stage design, etc.) is constructed in language; things are only said to happen.
In 2010 Teatro de Chile was awarded one of the largest financial supports ever given in the history of the Chilean Ministry for Culture and the Arts. This fund is granted to support the work of the group for a period of two years, and is given in recognition of the quality and stability of the company. In the context of this fund, Teatro de Chile initiated a new experimental process. For the piece MULTICANCHA the group underwent a year long Sports training, creatively developing six new games that later formed the dramatic structure of the play. This piece – with no text- is a performative close look into the empty drama of Sports, how it promotes efficiency and high performance, therefore denying the potential value of all that is considered useless, non-productive, and ineffective. As a metaphor for our growth oriented economy, this play allows us to observe how bodies are formed and deformed as they strive for impossible objectives. MULTICANCHA premiered in October 2010 and has toured the city of Santiago and nearby provinces, taking the work of Teatro de Chile to new audiences.