Michelle Zubiate
Hemispheric Institute
3rd Annual Encuentro Lima, Peru
Seminar Course Project
Interview with Ana Correa of Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani

This is an interview with Ana Correa of Peru's Grupo Cultural Yuyachkani. Ana has performed with the Yuyachkani for about 30 years in many roles and in many productions. During the 2002 Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics encuentro in Peru, she performed in "Los Músicos Ambulantes" and "Hecho en el Perú." During this interview, Ana was asked to explain her personal contributions to the group's political performance aesthetics. She explains her philosophy on the relationship between performance and politics and describes her current political work through the character Rosa Cuchillo.

Translation in English

Q: How does your work relate to Performance and Politics?

Ana: I've been doing theatre for 30 years. From the beginning, I started in the theatrical world in a very political moment of military dictatorship in the country. And ever since I started in theatre, I felt the necessity of developing a relationship with the audience and with the public in relation to what I was feeling at that moment. So I started various roads. I tried a National Theater School. But suddenly, in the middle of a march, a miners' protest and all the street violence, I saw I was doing medieval theater in school and it wasn't working for me. I felt it was wrong when all of the miners, the farmers and the syndicates were mobilizing. So I left the medieval training.

I feel that from that moment onwards my relationship with politics and with Peru has been interlocking. At that moment I was trying to express the political ideas I had. But, little by little, (Grupo Yuyachkani) has been modifying because we've been maturing too. And I feel like I've been maturing too in my role in this country. This political dialogue has been changing and now I would say it is search for humanity where I will embody all of these concepts- politics, citizenship, ethics. So I feel that, from the beginning, it was something very ideological that went through my being, my experience, the experience of my group. All the processes of these thirty years, thirty years of violence in the country, has made me modify the way I see dialogue between the actor and the public. And now the theater and reflection goes through me -- inside my guts, the emotions, what I feel. That's what I try to communicate. And now I'm not only trying to communicate to the mind and ideology, not only to the heart, but also to the subconscious, to the ancestral. Everything can unify us and revalidate us as human beings. That's what I feel has deteriorated in these last years.

Q: Please describe one of your political performances, the direct effects it had on your audience. How does one measure these effects in performance?

Ana: I have a new piece directed by Miguel Rubio from Yuyachkani that we did after "Hecho en El Perú" and we presented it on July of last year. In the process of making "Hecho en El Perú," I was thinking of the personal necessity of reflecting on my mother's departure. My mom passed away and, when I got to the United States, my brothers and my father asked me to read at my mother's memorial service. I had not seen my mother's body because they have a different type of funeral in the United States than in Peru. I sat down to write with my brothers around me and I began to analyze my life. At the end, I thought of how my mom came here to serve people. And I saw this coherence in how she raised five children and how she raised a family as a housewife. My mom took care of her sick father. Her father died. She buried him. Her mother died. She buried her.
When she migrated to the United States, she started to adopt young girls because she did not have her daughters with her. She started helping immigrant girls. When I got there, I found little kids who called her grandmother who said they were going to their grandmother's funeral. There, reflecting, I found all of these women who have been fighting all of these years. And the women have been suffering for the disappearance of their children. And in the searching for their children, they have been finding not only mothers looking for children but also brothers looking for sisters and sons looking for fathers. This is the personal road that goes right next to what I was telling you before when I said politics are not only ideological but also the mental and physical forces that go through your guts. It began as a personal thing. Is there life after life? Do you come here to evolve? Do you come here with a purpose? What is my contribution? Why did my children decide to come through me? Why did I chose be born from that woman? Why is it my mission to evaluate her life? And why I was supposed to live in this moment?
While I was in working on "Hecho en El Perú," Miguel spoke with me about the topic of a woman miner because I have a juggling act. The miner's movement started about 30 years ago. They moved here to Lima with their problems and they stayed here in order to eat. They stayed as beggars holding out their hats saying the name of the mine they belong to. Miguel asked me to develop a scene with beggars juggling. You have walked through Lima and seen young people who not only ask money by cleaning your car, but they also juggle for money. Here is a fusion of that technique of juggling with the topic of a miner to see what happens. Then I think about Sarita Colonia, a saint that is not known by the Catholic church. It is a saint that the prostitutes and the poor have invented. The criminals also invented her because they all felt the necessity of something spiritual in their lives.

Now we have two roles of women, and this coincides with a journey I made to Ayacucho. Traveling that night on the bus, we were a delegation of people. Some got sick when I suddenly woke up. I saw the image of these two women (the miner and Sarita Colonia). Then I imagine I am walking in Ayacucho where there has been so much violence and the images of the Ayacuchan women start coming to my mind. The image of Lagos, this young Ayacuchan fighter who was very important in El Sendero Luminoso won acceptance among people at the beginning. Then all of these images of the mothers of the disappeared came to my mind. These women from Callara unearthed bones of their children after they learned of the massacre. I thought of the images of the women from El Sendero Luminoso being violent, killing or ordering to kill. And I have also thought of women from the association of familiares de detenidos y desaparecidos that have fought with and against everything. And that's what you see in "Hecho en El Perú" -- all of these skins, all of these women, all of these roles.. With the farewell of my mother, I had the image of life after life.

Miguel and I found a novel about life after life titled Rosa Cuchillo by Oscar Colchado, a writer from Alcachino. Rosa is a woman whose son disappears and she searched for him. Finally she went crazy and died of suffering. But when she dies she says that even in death she is going to keep on looking for her child. And in that moment she is snatched away from earth and by seeing from above she understands what has happened to her. She says goodbye. Suddenly something calls her and her dog is next to her. This is the dog, Guaira, she has raised ever since she was little. All of this is part of the Andean cosmological vision. And she asked the dog, "Have you seen my son, Liborio?" The dog answers, "Yes. He was walking around here. But we have to go because you have to get through the guayo imayo, the black river of stormy waters that separates the living from the dead. Let's go. I will go with you." And they walked together through the river. And when they do it, a point is opened. The doors of the uhu pacha, the underworld, opened. She walks through asking for her son. She finds lagoons full of the heads of military people -- half men, half animals -- and terrorists yelling at each other saying things like indio de mierda. She goes through this and gets to the hana pacha, the tranquil river that goes around the stars. And then in the hana pacha she meets the guiracocha.

So we fused all of this - my life, all of these women, and this last story. Rosa Cuchillo, Oscar's work, was the Cavillaca goddess, that was sent to see how the Peruvian lived in the time of war. In my action, I decided to put it in the markets. I started to take pictures of the markets and investigate them. We constructed a small table with a plastic curtain. From that space, I told the story in the market. At 6:30 am, I built my scene. They thought I was going to sell something. I got dressed like a campesina, with white makeup from head to toe. I walked through the market and that is how the performance starts. I walk like a good soul that returns from the hana pacha to clean and bloom. I say hello and the people follow. While I am walking and saying hello they recognize the indigenous clothing and that I speak Quechua and Spanish. I continue this until I get back to my little stage. I start telling my story and I dance it. Then I take from the uhu pacha a vase filled of water and flowers to clean. I tell people that we are sick of being afraid and of forgetting. We need to be clean because that is the only way the memory can bloom. I clean and dance. In that moment people come to me for all of these elements that Andean culture keeps a secret and nobody tells.

So this is a performative action that I do in the markets, Rosa Cuchillo, and I am doing it for the commission of the truth. In Peru they have named a Commission of the Truth and they conduct meetings where the families of the disappeared can go. By the time those meetings are happening there, we are in the market or the church or the plaza performing the action. Rosa Cuchillo is the emotional companion for the country and the families that have lived these events in the flesh. I feel that a performance is born with a lot of elements but it has to have the personal element. It doesn't come out of the head. It comes out of the guts, the feelings, the questions that you pose as a human being. And then I get an answer. Then I feel that I construct a bridge between the family here that doesn't have their children and the people who are in heaven. If we make the memory prosper here on earth then we will be fine there in heaven. There is calm there and peace.