by Gerardo Oettinger
Translation by Cristóbal Pizarro Schkolnik.
The play tells the story of a community kitchen created from several testimonies from residents of a squatter settlement that became organized against hunger during the dictatorship and a deep economic crisis in the 80's Chile. It takes place at a chapel in a suburban shantytown, where a community kitchen works. The state security forces have broken in and detained the nun in charge and one of the community leaders. The residents left have to cook what little food there is after being scattered and trampled on by the police. They have to decide where they'll send the food, who can and can't eat, and what their priorities are. It's a confrontation between organizing or letting hunger win.
Inspired by testimonies of residents of squatter settlements that were part of community kitchens in Chile in the 1980s.
"What is known and left quiet, being quiet is forgotten," popular saying.
"One day like any other day, until the extraordinary bursts in with the violence of the unexpected," Santiago Loza.
Das Kapital Editorial, collected in Teatro de Guerra, Playwriting Collection.
The following text is an excerpt from the play.
This play is fully protected under Chilean copyright laws.
First scene, in the chapel. Yolanda, Inés, Nora, Lidia, and Brigida tiding up a counter to start cooking.
Ines: And María? Wasn't she with you?
Lidia and Brigida: No.
Inés: And why is she not here yet?
Brigida: She might be at the barricades, signing people up to eat.
Ines: But she said she was going to be here early.
Brigida: I bet those old fucking cows snitching for the board told the military we were cooking a pot.
Ines: Who else could it have been.
Lidia: Girls, how long are we going put up with these motherfuckers ratting us to the military? Accusing us of being subversive for wanting to feed our families…
Yolanda: What have they done to help us?! Nothing! The food they get from the Vicar they keep it to themselves.
Lidia: They don't even have respect for queues anymore.
Inés: They prefer that the lumpen steals the help we get for the pot.
Brigida: I've had rows with a few of them, walking in pushing, elbowing like old ladies in buses. I don't know what the hell they think they are, or what the fuck do they feel one is?
Ines: It's too much abuse.
Brigida: We're going to have to talk to our partners so we can tie those pigs up tightly. They're gonna see what happens when you betray your own – those motherfuckers.
Ines: I'm going to organize the armed self-defenses so we can get revenge, and set their headquarters on fire.
Brigida: This shit is not a joke. You, the kids in self-defenses, are there to watch over the roofs and around the corner. But for something like that, you have to talk to the Mapu Lautaro. And I am going to do that. What we have to solve now is: how the hell are we going to cook.
Ines: I can get another big pot, it's smudged and dented because of all the pot-banging, but it's still useful.
Nora: But the chapel is not a safe place anymore.
Brigida: There is nowhere else to do any cooking! And our comrades are waiting, we have to bring them food.
Lidia: Let's do it here. There is no other way.
Nora: But it's obvious these pigs are coming back. They're not stupid.
Brigida: If they show up, we throw ourselves to the tracks.
Nora: If cops are surrounding the shantytown, no one will come to get their food.
Lidia: We'll have to go out and deliver it. The elderly can't come and get their rations. We can have tea or anything. A bit of broth. This is for the children.
Ines: My aunt Nora is right, are we risking ourselves too much just for cooking here?
Brigida: If you're scared, you can go home.
Inés: We all have the right to express our opinions, comrade. I might be the youngest, but I'm not a fool. I've fought in barricades just like everybody else. And dead, we are not useful to anybody.
Yolanda: Let's wait until the sister shows up, and then we can decide where to do it. In the meantime, let's clean up because Jaime is at home taking care of the girls, and they're probably busy. And their families as well.
Brigida: Let's cut the crap. Let's do it now, right here.
Lidia: Where else do you want to do it? In the streets?
Inés: I don't know. At someone's house.
Lidia: Who's house?
Inés: Aunt Nora's.
Nora: Mine? Daddy is sick, no can do.
Yolanda: My girls are at my place.
Ines: Mine either.
Nora: At anybody's home is too much risk. The military can frame us, plant weapons, call the TC, and say we are terrorists.
Brigida: Terrorists? For cooking food? Terrorists are the ones throwing bodies with gunshots in their heads into the canals. Whoever is afraid can go home, nobody is going to give them a bad look. It's not an obligation. I'll stay.
(Brigida raises her hand)
Lidia: (Raises her hand) Comrades, let's not allow these motherfuckers to divide us. This is how they're going to beat us. In a month, the National Strike is coming, and we have to be strong, brave. Like the sister taught us: this pot is not just so we can eat, it's our way of denouncing. So we can make known what we are going through. So that students, workers, and people can give us their support. I'm staying too.
Brigida: This pot is the only way to keep our organization together, to be solidary, to strengthen the bonds of brotherhood that we have. It is an achievement of will to stay as a collective in the face of all this injustice. As the sister taught us: "resignation is a drug that puts people to sleep, puts consciousness to sleep. Like booze, like huffing glue".
Ines: (Raises her hand) That's why I quit.
Brigida: Just as our comrades are willing to take the shovel, the hand saw, the hammer, and the arms, we take knives, spoons, and pots. I'm not leaving, even if the painted-faces show up again.
Yolanda: (Raises her hand) I'm staying too.
Nora: Ok, me too.
Yolanda: (all clench their fists) We are not going to please these bastards. Even if we only have the broth left. There is where we're going to be -with our people. Marching, like the sister, taught us.
Ines: I'll be right back.
Nora: Should I come with you?
Inés: No, I'll be faster on my own.
(Ines leaves. Whistling can be heard. They start cooking).
La Victoria opened in 2014, at Teatro del Puente, directed by Paula González. Its stage design was chosen to represent Chile at the 2015 Prague Quadrennial. That same year, Gerardo Oettinger took over the directing role. The play was part of the "Lluvia de Teatro" Festival, in Valdivia, and did a popular tour through different districts of the country. In 2016 it was presented at Universidad Mayor Theater and several memory spaces in the Metropolitan Region, which was financed by National Arts Council funds. In 2017 it was part of the Santiago a Mil and Zicosur Festival.
Cast: Andrea Ahumada, Ana Burgos, Catalina Cornejo, Lucia Díaz, Lea Lizama, Daniela Pino.
Director: Gerardo Oettinger and Catalina Torres.
Design: Josefina Cifuentes, Natalia Moráles.
Music: Cristián Mancilla, Giancarlo Valdebenito.