"Jardín de Pulpos" Reveals Life Under Dictator's Tentacles
¿Dondé está el Jardín de Pulpos? ¿Qué es el teatro debajo la arena? Doesn’t make sense? Don’t worry. Producer Francisco N. Alvarez ’11 and director Gabriela Bortolamedi ’10 will show you everything.
The Harvard College TEATRO’s newest production, playwright Arístides Vargas’ “Jardín de Pulpos,” presents the fantastical world of a Latin American man’s lost past and his dreams that make it come back alive. Set in an imagined “theatre under the sand,” “Jardín de Pulpos,” which translates as “Octopus’ Garden,” will run in the Adams Pool Theatre through December 3. Despite being an entirely Spanish-language production, Alvarez, Bortolamedi, and cast members hope that “Jardín” will create an aesthetic that transcends the limits of language, requiring no translation.
For playwright Vargas, oppression under the 1970s Argentinean dictatorship served as the inspiration for “Jardín de Pulpos”; during this time, murdered students’ bodies were tossed into the sea and onto the beach, the beach where Vargas’ play is set.
“The very project of writing the play was originally very, very political,” Bortolamedi says. “And I feel like it still is very political.”
However, for director Bortolamedi, “Jardín” represents more that a political statement.
“There are more subtle ways of oppression that we can still learn to battle through imagination, through subverting the reality that we’re given…and venturing outside those structures that are potentially oppressive, through dreaming,” she says. “I think that’s very much the message of the play.”
The plot is based on the story of José, a man who loses his memory and identity on the shores where the bodies had once been flung, and his efforts to get them back with the help of the town’s people. According to Natali Alcala ’12, who plays La Anciana, “José regains his memory and his identity through dreaming.”
“The message of the play has a lot to do with the importance of recognizing your past so that you understand your current identity more and hence your future,” Alcalá says. “It very much, on a day-to-day basis, pertains to who we are and how we live.”