Kenji Maeda (L) with the cast of El Pasado

I attended this show on February 3rd, there was a wonderful and educational talkback held after the show that was moderated by local actor Kenji Maeda. The actors who were on tour with their show as part of the Push Festival in Vancouver talked about the show that premiered in Buenos Aires. It is currently on a 2 month tour of the united states and Vancouver, Canada.

Most of the actors answered the questions in Spanish and the Director translated to English for the audience understanding. They explained that it took 8 months to develop the play. This talkback was most helpful and I actually wish it was held before we saw the play as we would have a basis of understanding to how it was going to unfold.

The stage scenes rotated in the merry go round style, so scenes could change in sequence. All the admirers where French as they have lots of French influences in Argentina. The English subtitles were to give the audience a guideline of what was going on, not reading all the time.

The set was built in Europe, in Rotterdam and the play had not been performed in Argentina for the past 2 years. They would like it to return to Argentina but it’s hard to show a play there.

The play is set in 1999 in Buenos Aires. Mario, Laura, Pablo, and Vicky are in their mid-twenties and ready for careers, love, and adulthood. Over the next 10 years, Argentina’s economy will collapse and their lives will take a series of unexpected turns. In this fast-paced, multilayered “mega fiction,” director Mariano Pensotti—the artist responsible for lighting up the streets of Gastown with La Marea as part of PuSh 2011—deftly unfolds the lives of these four characters. El pasado es un animal grotesco (The Past is a Grotesque Animal) is a funny and moving portrait that takes place atop a slowly spinning turntable stage; a reminder of time’s ceaseless march. Guided by a narrative voice-over, we are granted access to a string of defining moments in the touching and tumultuous lives of the four characters. Moments that illustrate how quickly and easily real life can transform into fiction and back again.

Mariano Pensotti is an Argentinean-born writer and director whose experimental work incorporates elements of theatre, literature, film and visual arts.