It’s Good to See Ourselves in Our Own Shadow
Luisa Calcumil's 1987 solo show, 'Es bueno mirarse en la propia sombra' is a plea for the preservation of Mapuche indigenous culture in the face of the homogenizing forces of globalization. The play opens with Calcumil's voice in the dark, introducing herself in the Mapuche language as 'a person of the earth.' We then see her as a grandmother singing in Mapuche and being killed by white invaders who destroy indigenous land and build nuclear dumps. Next is the story of Julia and her mother: in dire financial straits, Julia's mother is forced to send Julia to work in the city as a maid. After many years, she goes back for her, only to find out she?s left her job and given birth to a boy. Calcumil then transforms into Julia, dancing to pop music, wearing flashy clothes. Julia constantly tells herself, 'You're so beautiful, Julia!' 'Why think?' 'Your skin is whiter!' She wants to forget she was raped, forget where she came from, forget she is Mapuche. But even as she calls herself Julie and gets a Western education, her dead grandmother appears in her dreams singing traditional songs, relentlessly reminding her that she can't deny her roots. This video documents Calcumil's performance at the Teatro da Cidade in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, as a part of the 5th Encuentro of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, titled Performing Heritage: Contemporary Indigenous and Community-Based Practice.
Luisa Calcumil has worked in theatre since 1975. She started as an actress, presenting twenty theatre performances and acting in five films of international importance and in various television programmes. Luisa says that Aimé Painé, the first renown Mapuche singer, has had a great influence over her life. Luisa always remembers Aimé saying: "El saber quien es uno es el principio de ser culto" (knowing who you are is the first step of learning). After several years of performing without finding plays where she felt represented, Luisa started to write her own scripts or participating in the creation of performances in which she was protagonist. This is how It's Good to See Ourselves in Own Shadow and Hebras were created.