On October 29, 2021, I took part in the very productive and stimulating “Theatre and Revolution” working session at the American Society for Theatre Research (ASTR) conference in San Diego, California. Convened by Emily Sahakian (University of Georgia), Logan Connors and Lillian Manzoor (University of Miami), our group came together to explore the relationship between theatre and revolution, in and across historical, cultural, and performance contexts.
I shared for feedback and discussion a paper excerpted from my manuscript-in-progress, titled “Rhythm and Revolution: Victoria Santa Cruz and the National Folklore Ensemble of Peru, 1973–1982.” My paper explores how Victoria Santa Cruz shaped and staged for Peruvian and world audiences a Gramsci-influenced revolutionary concept of Peruvian folklore as an agent of both individual and social transformation. I explain how the Peruvian Revolution enabled her rise to power as a government folklorist and founding director of Peru’s National Folklore Ensemble, which positioned her to guide individual evolutionary processes in rehearsals and staged performances. As Victoria frequently declared: “There is no revolution without evolution!” Ultimately, her work overlapped with and furthered—but also transcended and repurposed—the utopian ideals of the Peruvian Revolution.
Special thanks to my working session sub-group members Angela Marino (University of California, Berkeley) and Brianna Beemon (University of Minnesota) for their valuable feedback, and for sharing their own research about the Venezuelan Revolution and the Young Lords.