William Shakespeare’s “The Rape of Lucrece” is a dense yet beautiful poem about the abuse of power, the rape of a girl at the hands of an “untouchable” and its political repercussions, revitalized with the special touch of Mónica Maffía in the double role of actress and director. Jaquemate asked her about the challenge of staging the poem in Argentina.
“It was conceived to be read silently,” she said, “in solitude, not to be performed before an audience. Precisely for that reason the book as an object is central in this staging, for its metonymic value. It’s an important statement the presence of the book on stage, it represents memory, crimes that will never prescribe, it means law, it works as reminder of promises that have been broken, it is there as sacred word, and of course, as an homage to Shakespeare.
In working on the show, was there any aspect that struck home in a special way?
It is certainly shocking to hear the line which Shakespeare chose for this rapist of the 5th century BC to say to his victim: “The fault is yours”. How could it be possible that exactly the same phrase were used today now and again in real life by every single attacker whatever tongue they speak?
What kind of acting techniques were necessary to convert the poem into a dramatic presentation?
It was a mixture of shakesperean prosody and brechtian techniques, coming and going from different characters that take part in the action to end up breaking the fourth wall when assuming the role of the assertive narrator. There is also a very punctual a symbolic use of props, everyday objects and material that acquire a sinister meaning as the play develops.
There is an amazing reality in the essence of the play. Rape and sexual abuse continue to have political and social consequences, don't you think?
Yes, and pride, be it under the form of showy ostentation of economic or political power or private display of simple rude force. It is unbearably prevailing, women’s bodies taken as personal property, disposed of, sold or whatever the abuser has in his crooked mind.
What to you want the spectators to take home with them after seeing the play?
Poetry most of all and the astonishing revelation that one of the worst crimes inflicted on women and children on our 21st century have the same basis of power abuse that twisted the minds of criminals of immemorial ages, how these crimes are still hidden behind an outlook, a surface of respectability as before, and how their justification for those crimes is still the same, out of tune, unimaginative phrase “The fault is yours.”
The play has been running for 8 years, including 2 national tours, took part of the Festival de Teatro Femenino de Cartagena de Indias (2013)
Argentine Asociation of Women Judges - Argentine Net of Genre, Science and Technology (ragcyt) - Instituto Nacional del Teatro - Instituto Interdisciplinario de Estudios de Género (Universidad de Buenos Aires) -
Universidad Nacional de Salta - Ministerio de Cultura de Mendoza - Ministerio de Desarrollo Social y Derechos Humanos de Mendoza - Academia de Mujeres "Instituto Fabián Calle" de Mendoza - Programa de Género, Sociedad y Universidad, Secretaría de Extensión de la Universidad Nacional del Litoral - Honorable Cámara de Diputados de la Provincia de Santa Fe - Municipalidad de Santa Fe - Defensoría del Pueblo de Neuquén.