The Story of How the Famous Argentine Playwright Osvaldo “Chacho” Dragún Came Back To Life, Traveled To A Foreign Country, And Reported On What He Saw
Freedom of Expression only becomes a headline when someone is saying something that people don’t want to hear. The First Amendment is a sacred right as long as I agree with what you’re saying. The customer is always right. Your rights end where my nose begins. Ice bucket challenge. The street you grew up on plus the last thing you ate was discovered in the Greenland ice sheet. For my birthday, I’m asking you to donate your used clothes and guns to kids in cages.Playwright Osvaldo Dragún once founded a theater and produced a festival that promoted freedom of expression. The building was firebombed. But that was in Argentina. That could never happen here. Dante Flores is a playwright and dramaturg and has Xray vision. T3 is proud to call him part of the family.
The Story of How the Famous Argentine Playwright Osvaldo “Chacho” Dragún Came
Back To Life, Traveled To A Foreign Country, And Reported On What He Saw
Can you believe that it’s not even these last months that have thrown us into grotesquery? Can
you believe that it is in fact our lives, our routines, our entire manner of being, that is grotesque?
Dallas, can you believe that I traveled here, all the way from Buenos Aires, my home, to your
fair city, to sign one contract?
* * *
I, Osvaldo “Chacho” Dragún, will be represented by Actor 1. Actors 2 and 3 will represent the
rest of humanity.
ACTOR 2: But Chacho, I’m your biggest fan — you don’t even write in English, and you’ve never
even been to Theatre Three! Why do this?
ACTOR 1: I need the money!
ACTOR 3: But Mr. Dragún, you died of a heart attack in 1999! I performed the autopsy!
ACTOR 1: I need the work!
ACTOR 2: Chacho, how long have I been your accountant? Listen to me: this is far more money
than it’s worth — international flights are wildly expensive. You don’t have to do this!
ACTOR 1: I want to do a good job, don’t I!
ACTOR 3: Good lord, man, there’s a plague — at least get yourself some fresh and open air
along the way!
ACTOR 1: So I bicycled the whole trip.
(Actors 2 and 3 make bicycle sounds.)
ACTOR 3: Osvaldo Dragún rode north, following the winding and dotted line that takes all of us
from A to B.
ACTOR 2: Along the way, of course, stopping at C, D, E, F, and G…
ACTOR 3: H, I, J, K…you know the rest.
ACTOR 1: Just like Che!
ACTOR 2: Until, finally, he found himself deep in the heart of Texas.
(Everyone yells out “Yee Haw!”)
ACTOR 3: And when he arrived in Dallas, he found himself at the theatre….
ACTOR 2: Where he received a warm welcome.
ACTOR 3: (Wearing a big cowboy hat.) Howdy Chacho! Great to see you.
ACTOR 2: (Wearing a black shawl.) Hello Chacho!
ACTOR 1: (Extending an elbow.) It’s great to see you both in person!
(Actor 1 bumps elbows with Actor 2, then with Actor 3. Then Actor 3 bumps elbows with Actor 2.
Then Actor 1 bumps their own elbows, as do 2 and 3. Then all three actors bump all six
ACTOR 3: Chacho, we’ve called you here because we trust you.
ACTOR 2: We’ve summoned you because we consider you an authority figure.
ACTOR 3: And we want you to tell us what you think of the world.
ACTOR 2: And of course, we feel awful that you lost your bike in Waco.
ACTOR 3: It’s really tragic.
ACTOR 2:…So as a show of good faith we’ll lend you the house unicycle for the duration of your
(Actor 3 brings out a unicycle and Actor 1 nervously mounts it.)
ACTOR 1: Of course, I had never ridden a unicycle. But what could I do? I needed the money.
ACTOR 2: So he unicycled through the city!
ACTOR 3: This time traveling not exactly from A to B, or even Z to Y…
ACTOR 2: But instead travelling where he wished, and talking to everyone that he could!
ACTOR 1: Excuse me! What do you think about Dallas?
ACTOR 3: Sorry, can’t talk — I’m on my way to a ground-breaking ceremony!
ACTOR 1: Say, what do you think about Dallas?
ACTOR 2: Sorry, I don’t have the time — I’m on my way to a meeting at the bank!
ACTOR 1: No one would talk to me, not even on the grassy knoll!
ACTOR 2: And then something caught his ear.
ACTOR 3: It was the sound of a crowd.
ACTOR 2: He unicycled toward it.
* * *
It was a protest that I heard, coming from the other side of Commerce, from the Dallas lowlands,
near the bed of the Trinity River. So I followed the crowd, pedalling softly on the unicycle.
Your police are brutal. But that isn’t rare: all over the world there isn’t a job to be found, and
every day the police harass the most vulnerable; they arrest and beat and even kill. Why?
Simple: your work and your daily lives transform you into animals. And the bosses of the world
have decreed that where there are animals, there must also be hunters and tamers.
* * *
ACTOR 3: (Wearing a cowboy hat.) Hell, Chacho, we knew that.
ACTOR 2: (Wearing a black shawl.) We know it all too well, Chacho.
ACTOR 1: But..if you know that, why did you ask me to come?
ACTOR 2: We want to know what you recommend.
ACTOR 3: What do you think the theatre should do?
ACTOR 1: I…I don’t know.
ACTOR 2: So he unicycled some more!
ACTOR 3: And he rode behind the protestors, gently pedalling, taking notes…
ACTOR 2: He even chanted with them, and held their signs…
ACTOR 3: And he wore his mask!
ACTOR 2: And then it occurred to him.
ACTOR 1: Your cities are built to forget.
ACTOR 2: (Wearing a black shawl.) Chacho, what are you getting at?
ACTOR 3: (Wearing a cowboy hat.) Quick now, Chacho — I didn’t mention this before but that
there unicycle’s a rental.
ACTOR 1: Follow me.
ACTOR 2: So we did!
ACTOR 3: We rode on Chacho’s shoulders through the city.
* * *
Why else would the protestors follow the same routes every day? Why else would they march
where the old city meets the new?
Your cities, you United Statesians, are built for forgetting. Living pieces of history are drawn up
in lines and sold to the highest bidder. Every few years these bidders conspire with other
bidders to raze the city to the ground. Where you build, you must also destroy; I suppose the
wealthy developers have decided the destruction of the Black and Brown memory here was
worth a high rise or ten.
Why else would the protestors march through the richest, most amnesiac parts of town? The
past would like to remind you that despite your best efforts, it’s still here.
So, Chacho, whaddya think the theatre oughta do?
(And then, Osvaldo Dragún stopped pedalling, and he balanced the two directors of the theatre
perfectly on his shoulders.)
If your theatre would like to counteract the injustice, it first has to counteract the forgetting. What
can be done today if no one remembers what happened yesterday? Like any good protest, the
theatre must insist that the past is never really over; that the dead are never really dead; that
every generation’s crises are the previous generation’s failures and unfinished business.
(Then Osvaldo began to pedal again.)
Look at the streets around you and ask which are useful for living on and which are merely
useful for taking to work. Some would argue that only the second kind are Truly Useful; in this
way many of your cities in this country are in fact built to justify the roads, which in turn justify
the businesses that have dropped their white anchors here. In turn the streets where people live
and die and create are Truly Useless.
But you’ve got to believe that your soul, that the souls of all those forgotten and abused and
exploited people, congregate in the Useless Streets.
Because do you know what a theatre is, in a city full of Useful streets? It’s an island, like
anything else you find beautiful and worthwhile; there are islands like this everywhere. Even in
the time of plague, hopefully, we’ll bridge these islands together, and cross them all with
Useless, Useless Streets, and join them together, one by one, into a continent — which I hope,
in time, will be a birthplace of memory and creativity and magic.
* * *
ACTOR 2: And then Chacho disappeared.
ACTOR 3: And we fell flat on our asses with a unicycle, in those same Dallas lowlands…
ACTOR 2: From which both sides of our city can be seen.