Theater Interview: Looking ‘Up’ With ‘Fuerza Bruta’ Creator Diqui James

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CHICAGO – The confetti-filled, fist-pumping import “Fuerza Bruta: Look Up” recently stormed into Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre stage. Lauded by audiences as an experience the bridges the gap between the fervor of a night club and the aesthetics of traditional theatre, the production is known for its use of 360 degree spectacle. Diqui James, the co-creator and Artistic Director of the piece, recently caught of with ShowBiz Chicago to discuss the concept of the hands-on “Fuerza Bruta”, and why the art may just be in the discovery.

Martin Buzzo in “Fuerza Bruta”” target=
Martin Buzzo in “Fuerza Bruta”.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Fuerza Bruta

HollywoodChicago: Tell me about the initial development of “Fuerza Bruta: Look Up”. How did the idea begin?

Diqui James (DJ): The concept of the show is very difficult to explain. It’s a show that does not use seats, but uses a stage. You come out here in th theatre and we play onstage with the audience, sharing the same space. At the beginning we started to create set pieces that were large pieces of machinery that literally bring the action to the performer and to the onlooker. That is how it started, the question of how to create the kind of theatrical action that can be experienced by both. We are not telling a story, it is just an emotional, and physical trip. It is a celebration.

HollywoodChicago: Both “Fuerza Bruta” and “De La Guarda” originated in Argentina and have spanned the globe. How do culturally disparate audiences react to the physical pieces?

DJ: The audience reaction is often very similar, in celebration. At the beginning we wanted to play for very different types of people. We like the mixture, we like to make a show that everybody can experience as long as you are willing. You do not need to be into theatre, it’s a show for everyone. So we tried to reach that language that everyone could understand so that everyone could enjoy the show. So when we step into different places and countries we realize that everyone can understand the show, no matter how different our cultures might be.

HollywoodChicago: What is the significance of bringing “Fuerza Bruta” to Chicago, as well as the overall Midwest, for the first time?

DJ: Chicago is a very important city in the United States and has a tremendously long history with theatre. We are in the Auditorium Theatre, which is over one hundred years old. For us it’s a huge thing, something that is very important. We wanted to bring this show to the Midwest for the first time and Chicago is very significant because of that connection.
HollywoodChicago: Tell me about the main segment of “Fuerza Bruta” that involves a man on a treadmill. What was the initial concept behind this and why does it figure so prominently?

DJ: This man, the running man, is the guy who goes through the whole show, kind of like the main character. He connects all of the components. He goes through very different atmospheres and very different moments. He is running on a treadmill and everything is moving through him. We don’t like to say what that means, because everyone brings their own meaning to it. The concept was how to make someone run very fast and move all of the time, but all from the same place, while things pass through.

HollywoodChicago: You mention the importance of experimentation in your company. How is improvisatory experimentation used in the nightly run of “Fuerza Bruta”?

DJ: We want all of it to feel like an experiment. We want it to be a language that we are constantly discovering. We are not at the end of the line, we are just moving toward somewhere, but we don’t know where. It’s all about trying things and see what happens when we do it, how our audiences will respond. When we start each show we really don’t know what will happen and where we are going that night. We are not here for intellectual stimulation, we don’t want you to think about what this means. We just want to do what we like to do, and we might not understand what we do, maybe the audience won’t either. But we want to move through that discovery together.

StarMore theater reviews from critic Alissa Norby.
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HollywoodChicago: One of the aspects of the production that stood out to me the most was its ability to address all five senses, as opposed to traditional theatre’s use of sight and sound. What is the role of the physical experience in “Fuerza Bruta”?

DJ: The idea of is that the audience should be free to do whatever they want to do. If they want to move around, get involved in the action, feel and hear and touch, we want them to do it. We want them to move and feel free to get close to our performers and to the action in front of them. That is how the art is ultimately created.

“Fuerza Bruta” runs through July 25, 2010 at the Auditorium Theatre at 50 E. Congress in Chicago. To purchase tickets or for more information, visit here.
For half-price Chicago theater tickets, visit our partner Goldstar. staff writer Alissa Norby

Staff Writer

© 2010 Alissa Norby,

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