Hurt @ The Space
I have to confess, I am suitably delighted by the idea of seeing a Barbie doll called ‘Veronika’ perform for the first time. I’ve been lucky to see a few inanimate objects so far (the hoover being my personal favorite), therefore it’s no surprise I’m looking forward to Aztikeria Teatro’s Fringe show, Hurt - a bittersweet tale of consumerist, ‘plastic’ values - aptly summarised by the company with the motto "Pain comes in pink." Intrigued, I caught up with the director for the show - Roberto Espinosa - who enlightened me that drug dealers are the ones collecting all the Barbie dolls.
“Casting Veronika was quite easy”, explains Roberto, “she was an old friend of Miss Lorena de la Parra, co-director of the play. Unfortunately, she was lost after a performance in Mexico (we believe that some drug dealers kidnapped her) and so it was necessary to cast a new doll. Of course it had big shoes to fill, but luckily for us the perfect candidate showed up: she’s a talented actress, singer and dancer.”
Behind the glossy sheen of Veronika lies the protagonist of the show, Melanie, responsible for bringing to life her plastic counterpart. Melanie presents the delusions of our society and what it means to be ‘perfect’ in her own warped perception. “She’s a middle class girl with big expectations in all fields of life. She wants to be a great artist but at the same time to be wealthy and to fit in with the world. Melanie’s obsessed with perfection: she wants the perfect body, the perfect relationship, the perfect mind and the perfect fairy tale-happy ending - but above all - wants a single perfect day even if every other fails. Melanie struggles between reality and fiction and this turns out to be both comical and tragic.” The production aims to discuss issues such as ‘self esteem, discrimination, human relationships, auto-sabotage and disappointment’ among others, which Roberto believes to be rooted in contemporary life:
“Today’s pain or hurt is not what it used to be for past generations. We fight against the pain that merchandising and establishment have induced in younger people - it’s bittersweet, it comes in plastic and it comes in pink - therefore, the ‘dancer Barbie doll’ becomes that unreachable image of perfection that we all are in someway seeking and can’t find entirely. The audience is driven to a catharsis through Melanie’s raw yet honest exposure.”
An ambitious blend of drama, music, dance and video art, Hurt refuses to be defined by ‘conventional’ theatre and conversely showcases a comprehensive range of art forms. “As a company, we are looking for new ways to communicate with the theatre audience”, says Roberto. “Our discourse and aesthetic decisions revolve around the idea of pain - ‘How do we hurt?’ and ‘How do we get hurt?’ - and we needed to apply different artistic languages on stage to find more complex and whole answers to those questions.”
“Our biggest hope is to show our work in an international level. With the huge diversity of audiences that visit the Fringe, we wish to share the artistic manifestations that are taking place in Mexico nowadays.”
Finally, I asked Roberto, what’s in store for Veronika - will the doll ever have her solo debut? “I must say, it’s very unlikely because she and Melanie are strongly attached. They have a twisted co-dependent relationship between love and hatred. I don’t think they are going anywhere without each other. But then again, people can change.” - I can still dream.