Will we ever escape the Patriarchy? Tabula RaSa explores this danger in their new production at The Tank

Will we ever escape the Patriarchy? Tabula RaSa explores this danger in their new production at The Tank

Vanessa Hernández, Andrés López-Alicea, Klara Lopera-Sánchez Photo by Johanna Bock

Vanessa Hernández, Andrés López-Alicea, Klara Lopera-Sánchez Photo by Johanna Bock

Created by the collective Tabula RaSa NYC Theater and written by Ramiro Antonio Sandoval (in association with Johanna Bock), this new Spanish translation of En El Ojo de la Aguja (in the eye of the needle) follows three characters as they challenge each other’s imagination on their coexistence in a “far-away-so-close” location from our actual condition.

This dystopian story – that might feel like a premonition – is playing at The Tank (312 West 36th Street, NYC.) through Sunday, September 22nd . We spoke with Sandoval about the impact and importance of this play.

What makes your ensemble unique?

Tabula RaSa NYC Theater is an international company. It reflects the nature of the melting pot that is called NYC. Its constituents are multi-disciplinary artists from many different backgrounds with so much to share.

Do you believe political theatre can spark change?

I believe all theater should spark some sort change; even if it aims at a change of the imaginary, of the way we relate with the world, with nature, with others. That is political. Our role as artists has, is and will always be that of the whistle-blower. We are there to unveil what media and other powers don't. An artist worth his/her salt does not conform to the status quo. At any level. At the very least, to promote critical thinking, that would be a change promoter.

What have you learned from working on  this play? 

Uff plenty!!! Yes, many things. This play is about human nature... For starters, something we take for granted like awareness of gender struggle in a primarily Hetero-Patriarchal society. Still lots to learn in that area. Also, about the blinding role of official media. About individualism vs. collective work, perfidy, betrayal, looks like I am writing the next one, right? Look, when people are denied their basic needs to carry a dignified life and are placed on a survival mode, an extreme situation, all protocols are drained down the toilet. And... What if there is no such thing as a toilet in the vicinity?

From a theatrical perspective two basic points: More than ever I believe in the power of collective creation as a contemporary means of democratization of the arts. I praise the involvement of Tabula RaSa's actors and all the artists along the way for their collaborative input. We open the door... artists have something to say... that is powerful. It paves the way to new creative pieces. 

The possibility to imagine another Theater, another way to tell stories. New ways that might break with the established conservative codes and communicate at the levels that new audiences are ready to be addressed. Like TV in the 80's, we need a breakthrough in the Theater. But for this to happen we need to let go of the past, of the clichés from the past. Schools need to graduate artists, creative artists and not just plain interpreters. We need to go beyond the plain entertainment or survival and assume and dignify our roles as artists. It's incredible that we still have to deal with divas instead of collaborators, with people who don't know that “Absurd” was just a name to define a style that was not definable at the time, yet, 100 years later it is a deadly sin to reiterate.

What are the advantages and challenges of putting on a play in Spanish?

Certainly reaching a larger community in their language, our language. Nowadays it becomes more and more of an imperative to tell stories in Spanish, to make visible the Spanish culture's input in the development of this society and to keep building community. 

As far as the challenges are concerned, we find that audiences are reluctant to try new venues outside the comfort zone of their traditional go-to spaces.

What is your plan B?

“You give it all without a plan B”; says Ms. Tik in the show. “If you fail, you try again tomorrow. You cannot advance with a foot in the past and the other in the future. Right here. Right now.” I stick to her words.

If you could have anyone see this play (dead or alive) who would it be?

We would be honored to have a house full of people who have struggled to pass through the EYE OF THE NEEDLE to an uncertain future. Refugees, Victims of war. The children of those unkind of humans who embrace the war. The victims of Human-Un-Kind. I would tell them that we hear them. That their voices don’t die in the Mediterranean, nor in the Rio Grande; not even in the deserts of Africa, Syria, Central America or Texas.

Would love to have Tadeuzs Kantor in the audience having a drink with Romeo Castellucci.

To learn more about En El Ojo de la Aguja visit tabularasatheater.org

Ramiro Antonio Sandoval

Ramiro Antonio Sandoval

"The Sisters" at The Clemente Center

"The Sisters" at The Clemente Center