Once upon a time, there was a brothel in Madrid. This house of ill repute was made up of thirteen rooms, and people would line up to get in on what was happening inside each of them. The events that transpired were so pleasurable that the rooms would be occupied up to twenty times a day for about 10 to 15 minutes each time. We are referring, of course, to the performance of dramatic arts.
The year was 2009, and the idea was actually quite simple. Thirteen independent theater companies would create short plays to be put on in each of the thirteen rooms of the old brothel, with an audience of up to ten people each time. The plays would be put on as long as people came – pun intended – and the slogan clearly stated the theme all directors had to follow: “for money”. Thus, Microteatro (literally, “tiny theater”) was born.
The year was 2017 when actor and producer Pablo Bossi thought it was time to import said project to the theater-loving paradise that is Buenos Aires. “From the moment I saw it in Madrid, I was interested in bringing it here”, Bossi told The Bubble. “It wasn’t only that it was original, but the fact that it gave the spectator freedom to put together a combo of their choosing. You can come with friends, talk about each play after seeing it, have a drink in between plays. It’s cultural but playful at the same time. It doesn’t have the formality of a more structured outing.”
Indeed, one of the most interesting aspects of Microteatro, beside the challenge of creating such a short play and putting it on in such an intimate stage, is the fact that people who attend can choose how many and which plays to see in a day, and can even have dinner at Bar Quince, located in the ground floor of the venue. This means you can go home having watched a variety of perspectives on the same theme and also having tasted yet another Palermo burger, which also helps broaden your perspectives on another well-known subject.
Bossi put this idea in motion with the help of actress and producer Julieta Novarro, who was attracted to the dynamic of it. “It’s quite exciting to come in and out of different rooms, to be called on the megaphone when a play is about to start, and to have a guide explain everything to you. It’s like you’re about the go on a ride,” she said. Novarro also explained that this resemblance to a game helps bring down barriers that a lot of people who are not used to going to the theater might have. That, as well as the wide spectrum of genres, story lines and even scenery it proposes, makes Microteatro quite a colorful experience.
The challenge it poses, however, is huge. How do you tell a story in only fifteen minutes? How do you make it interesting? When you’re standing in the middle of a 15 square meter room, how do you work with that closeness to the audience? According to Novarro, that’s not a problem at all, and people enjoy it. “The audience is not uncomfortable; on the contrary, they feel part of the play and welcome it as part of the novelty of the proposal.” In regards the plot, Novarro said simply that “something has to happen.” For a play to be Microteatro-worthy, it has to be a spectacle of sorts, and good performances are a must. When the audience is so close to the actors that they can almost check if they still have their wisdom teeth, there’s no distance to soften the blow of bad acting.
In honor to Madrid’s first edition, the theme all throughout August – when Microteatro launched in Buenos Aires – was “for money”, and since then the billboard has seen plays dealing with love, sex, future and family. As of January 10th, the theme will be “for vacations”, and will have celebrities such as Atilio Veronelli, Inés Palombo, Federico Barón and Emiliano Dionisi walking its six rooms, among others. The plays, chosen from an open call, are curated by extraordinary playwrights of the Buenos Aires underground theater scene, led by María Figueras, María Marull and Mey Scapola.
When and where
Bar Quince, Serrano 1139 | From January 10th, Wednesdays through Sunday from 9 PM to 11 PM | More info