Mario Alejandro Delgado Vásquez, the founder of the theatre group Cuatrotablas, died Tuesday, October 4 in Lima, Peru. Delgado was considered one of the trailblazers of what Malgorzata Oleszkiewicz has called the New Peruvian Theatre. His group Cuatrotablas was the first in Peru to restage European classics by Sophocles, Shakespeare, and Brecht with Andean characters and themes. Cuatrotablas also, most notably, produced works of collective creation. His 2008 interpretation of Los rios profundos, Arguedas’ canonical 1958 novel, was one of his last works. El Comercio reports that the dramatist was no stranger to sacrificing for his art: Delgado left his home and moved into a small, rented room to offset the production costs of Los ríos profundos. He collaborated with other greats of Latin American theatre such as Enrique Buenaventura, Santiago García, and Augusto Boal, producing theatre committed to social change that influenced Peru’s artistic community for approximately fifty years.
Cuatrotablas, along with Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani, introduced authentic Andean themes into Lima’s theatre around the time of the socialist dictatorship of General Juan Velasco Alvarado. One of General Juan Velasco Alvarado’s objectives was the revalorization of indigenous Andean contributions to Peruvian culture. His government established the Teatro Nacional Popular, which provided one of the first vehicles of expression for many of the founders of Peru’s contemporary experimental theatre groups (Ramos-García, “Introducción” xxv-xxvi). Delgado’s work with Cuatrotablas, like many collectives that formed during this period, was influenced by Eugenio Barba’s anthropological theatre and the poor theatre of Jerzy Grotowski. As Aída Balta Campbell notes, Delgado and his group Cuatrotablas were instrumental in organizing El Taller Latinoamericano de Teatro de Grupos in Ayacucho in 1978 in which Eugenio Barba and Denmark’s Odin Teatret offered workshops. Mario Delgado benefited from a traditional theatre training and produced some of the canonical Western theatre works but was fundamental in establishing the “Tercer Teatro.” The “Third Theatre”, as it was called, counted as participants “[…} a las agrupaciones que vivían en los márgenes, generalmente fuera de los centros y capitales de cultura y que están compuestos por artistas que no han pasado por las escuelas tradicionales de aprendizaje teatral” / “[…] groups that lived on the margins, generally far from the cultural capitals and centers and composed of artists who haven’t passed through the traditional schools of theatrical apprenticeship” (239).
Only a few weeks before his death, Cuatrotablas performed the group’s first work as a collective, Tu país está feliz. As noted by El Comercio in the Peruvian capital, Delgado had fought an illness without medical insurance and thus, could not receive full and proper medical treatment. Yuyachkani held a benefit on September 24 to raise funds for his medical treatment. His death illuminates how the lack of access to medical insurance due to the independent, mostly unsponsored nature of culture work in Peru affects the country’s artists. Cuatrotablas reports on its Facebook site that Delgado’s body was held in visitation at the Ministerio de Cultura in the San Borja district of Lima. Burial was held on Wednesday in the Mapfre Cemetery in Aguas Calientes.
In the 2013 video interview below, Mario Delgado speaks with reporters from La Mula regarding Lima’s theatre scene.
Balta Campbell, Aída. Historia general del teatro en el Perú. Lima: Escuela de Ciencias de Comunicación Universidad San Martin de Porres, 2001. Print.
Oleszkiewicz, Malgorzata. “XIII Muestra Nacional de Teatro: The New Theatre in Peru.” The Drama Review 33.3 (Autumn 1989): 10-17. Print.
Ramos-García, Luis A. “Introducción: Las voces del interior en el teatro peruano.” Voces del interior: Nueva dramaturgia peruana. Eds. Escudero, Ruth and Luis A. Ramos-García. Lima: Instituto Nacional de Cultura, 2001. xvii- lxxix. Print.
“Cuatrotablas repone ‘Tu país está feliz’, su primer montaje”. El Comercio [Lima] 27 Sept. 2016. Web. 7 Oct. 2016.
“Falleció Mario Delgado, director del grupo Cuatrotablas”. Oct. 4, 2016. El Comercio [Lima] 4 Oct. 2016. Web. 7 Oct. 2016.
“Falleció Mario Delgado Vásquez, director del grupo teatral Cuatrotablas”. Oct. 5, 2016. La República [Lima] 5 Oct. 2016. Web. 7 Oct. 2016.
“Yuyachkani organiza función a beneficio de Mario Delgado”. El Comercio [Lima] 22 Sept. 2016. Web. 07 Oct. 2016
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