‘El gran teatro del mundo’ is an ‘auto sacramental’ written by Spanish playwright Pedro Calderón de la Barca in the 17th century to allegorically convey catholic values. In dialogue with the Shakespearian notion that 'all the world is a stage,' the play states that human beings have to play a role and make decisions with virtue and wisdom, because rewards or punishment will come in the after life. Luis Peirano rescued the powerful spectacularity of this play to offer an eclectic reading of it according with the complex Peruvian context at the beginning of the 21st century. The display of actors, performers, dancers, acrobats, and singers transforms this piece into a ‘fiesta’ that celebrates traditions, and that revisits the ‘mestizaje’ between Spanish and Peruvian cultures and traditions from a productive perspective. This play, which had more than 500 performers on stage, is not only a precious rereading of what ‘spectacles of religiosities’ are, but also is an example of the complicated relationship existing between religious and politics in Peru. Given that the original pedagogic intention of the text played a secondary role in Peirano’s version, the authorities of the Peruvian Catholic Church denied their permission for the play to be staged in the Lima cathedral’s atrium – a central space for ‘autos sacramentales.’ In spite of this denial, and perhaps because of it, the group of artists who worked in this piece, lead by Peirano, decided to keep presenting it for several years in other venues. This insistence on keep staging a play that became meaningful as an affirmation of creative independence is still remembered in Lima as a strong and valuable political gesture, and a reminder of the power of performance to mobilize affects and thought.
Luis Peirano received his PhD in the humanities from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú and his master’s in Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is a sociologist who focuses on communication and culture, and also works as a theatrical director. He was the founder and first dean of the Faculty of Sciences and Arts in Communication at Peru’s Catholic University and also developed the master’s program in communications there. He is a member of the Ethics Board for the Peruvian press and served as its president from 2006 to 2007. He is also a member of the National Cultural Commission and of the Advisory Technical Commission of UNESCO. In 2011, Luis Peirano was appointed as Minister of Culture by the Peruvian government.