Given the violent times, inequality and division that the contemporary world faces, the play “Matteo Ricci”, written by Luis de Tavira, is presented at the Teatro del Bosque Julio Castillo as a call for unity among peoples.
It is a multidisciplinary staging that relates the story of the Italian Jesuit missionary Matteo Ricci or Li Madou, who in the 16th century in search of evangelization joined the Chinese community, and the life of the Jesuit priests Joaquín César Mora and Javier Campo Morales, murdered in 2022, in Cerocahui, a Tarahumara community that they sought to support and protect.
“Matteo Ricci was the cartographer who drew the first world map with China in the center, which is what the name of that country means, ‘the middle vault under the celestial vault.’ Something important because where your axis mundi is, there is your treasure and there is your heart. This cartographer’s overcoming of the representations of the Eurocentric world shook Western culture.
“This fact involved the concept used by the Jesuits of that time of ‘accommodation’, which is a theatrical term about the point of view and the place in which you adjust to change the way you see. It is something that many missionaries have experienced, like these Jesuit priests who lived the tragedy of their murder, but who became Rarámuris to understand and help a culture in resistance, people kidnapped by organized crime, trapped in intolerable poverty,” he explains. Luis de Tavira, in an interview with The Sun of Mexico.
The work brings the past into contact with the present, not only through the narration of both stories, but by manifesting the need to create theater as a means of social discussion in the 21st century, it reveals the value of facts. events and their resonance in the present.
“The construction of historical consciousness is essential for each social moment, which is not about the simple accumulation of information about past events. Building memory has the future as its central objective, when we make memory we ask ourselves what of everything has remained, what of today will remain and what will happen to it then.
“For example, what we are experiencing today in the world, succumbing once again to the absurd wars, some of religion between Islam and Judaism. Have we turned God into the dispute, the discord and the reason for the slaughter? or also this being in a world manipulated by information at the service of a power structure. All of this is the crisis of conscience, which makes me consider again the urgency and necessity of theater,” adds the actor and director, who mentions that the original work did not contemplate the story of the murdered priests, until the news of their deaths.
In this sense, De Tavira refers to the teaching that Matteo Ricci left, as a “particular” missionary, who, unlike other evangelizers, did not arrive accompanied by conquerors or with colonialist interests, but with the desire to learn and understand an unknown culture, which ended up considering him its guest of the Ming dynasty.
“The adventure that Ricci left us can be summarized in his proposal of something extremely necessary for universality, the friendship of cultures. Cultures show us the tremendous and abysmal difference between some identities compared to others; But recognizing that we can be friends, much more than simply partners in a global market or allies in geopolitics, shows us a viable path for human survival.”
Jorge Arturo Vargas, co-director of the work, mentions that the staging has multiple scenic languages in which dance, live music and choral singing composed expressly for it are combined; but also by the use of digital technologies, such as image projection and video production in real time.
As an important characteristic, both directors pointed out the importance of the use of masks within the play, with which 10 actors get to play around 30 characters, including children, soldiers, religious people, the protagonists themselves and many more.
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“The mask is a high-density object in the theater, because it is the material with which an actor can transmute just by wearing it. The language of the mask is always subject to the configuration of a crystallized image and it is the actor who breathes life into it. In the case, these characters are marked by their diversity, in a wide range of Eastern masks and Western masks in dialogue,” says Jorge Arturo Vargas.
De Tavira points out that this staging is the culmination of a trilogy in which he rescued the stories of Jesuit religious who were decisive for their times. The first was the historian and philosopher Francisco Javier Clavijero, considered a precursor of indigenism and main exponent of the Enlightenment in New Spain; while the second was Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a paleontologist who provided important interpretations of teleological evolutionism.
“Matteo Ricci” is presented from Thursday to Saturday at 7:00 p.m., and Sundays at 6:00 p.m., until March 3.