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Disorderly Conduct: The Violence of Spectatorship in Griselda Gambaro’s Información para extranjeros (1973)

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Abstract

Informatión para extranjeros (1973) by Griselda Gambaro is a play that fragments the theater experience into small pieces that portray violent acts taken from Argentine and international newspaper accounts. Gambaro’s play is an avant-garde example of a theater that violently and unconventionally wants to show its spectators (and readers, in the case of this play) the worldview that it has discovered. Gambaro creates this alternative theatrical experience by stating that the play be performed in a space that is not a theater. The spectators move through the different rooms of a house, each accommodating a different violent episode. In this way, the role of the audience is changed from one that is physically detached to one that is intermingled with the action and the actors. Each group of spectators receives a guide who, like the Mendigo in Estorino’s La dolorosa historia, leads them through rooms to watch violent kidnappings and episodes. The audience becomes what Milanés was: spectators traveling from scene to scene, unwilling witnesses forced to see violent images and memories. The foreigners that are alluded to in the title are all of the spectators (and readers) that come to Informatión, thus stating that no one is familiar with the material in the play. Spectatorship, for Gambaro in Informatión, becomes an experience of estrangement, of “foreign-ness.” As foreigners, the spectators are drawn into the action unfolding before them but always with a level of detachment that allows them to question these violent scenes.

Keywords

Theatrical Space Corporal Punishment Audience Member Psychological Violence Theater Experience 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
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  2. 2.
    Griselda Gambaro’s theater is the subject of hundreds of articles and numerous books. Diana Taylor is one of the most well-known scholars of Gambaro’s drama, though the Marguerite Feitlowitz’s Introduction to the English translation of three of her plays stands out as a study. Also, the recent publication of Susana Tarantuviez’s work on Gambaro’s theater is an important addition to this growing body of scholarship. See Diana Taylor, Disappearing Acts: Spectacles of Gender and Nationalism in Argentina’s “Dirty War,” (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1997)Google Scholar
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    Despite its difficult history of representation, Informatión has been the subject of much research and discussion in academic circles, especially in the US. Some names that stand out as most important in reference to this play are Jason Cortés, Myriam Yvonne Jehenson, Mady Schutzman, John Fleming, Rosalea Postma, and Dick Gerdes. Jason Cortés, “La teatralización de la violencia y la complicidad del espectáculo de Informatión para extranjeros de Griselda Gambaro,” Latin American Theatre Review 35.1 (2001): 47–61.Google Scholar
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    Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Random House, 1977) 7–8.Google Scholar

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© Katherine Ford 2010

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