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The Day You Love Me

by José Ignacio Cabrujas
Directed by Mario Marcel

About the play

“The Day You Love Me” is an allegory of heroes and cowards, of leaders and followers – an allegory that envelops us in the doubt of absolutism.

A day 1924, Carlos Gardel appears in Caracas, the same day a successor is sought for Lenin who has died. Rituals and myths, idols and leaders combine in a kind of dance – to a tango rhythm. Was Gardel an idealist or did Lenin perhaps die singing a tango?

From the director

We suggested a get together… remember? We discovered an excellent Mexican author, Sabina Berman, and also greatly enjoyed the work of the new Argentine partnership, Roberto Cossa and Mauricio Kartun. It was a very exciting game to witness the choice “Between General Villa and a Naked Woman” without forgetting, of course, that all this happened extremely “Far From Here”. The Poetry Marathon was more successful than ever, considering the high quality and quantity of the participants. Then, with a playful passion, we surprised everyone with a work for children of all ages: “Pluft, the Little Ghost” by renowned Brazilian playwright, María Clara Machado.

Well, the moment has arrived for our season to end and we begin by saying see you soon…We are certain that we are presenting a golden finale for this entire season which was conceived and produced especially for you. The curtain rises again for one of the very best Venezuelan playwrights, José Ignacio Cabrujas with his coup de theatre “The Day You Love Me”.

This satirical comedy takes us on a journey through the old Caracas in a period colored by its customs, charms, values, political upheavals, and, above all, a great sense of history; all of this is suspended in space when the legendary Tango singer Carlos Gardel materializes in the lives of the people of Caracas. Gardel, the ultimate Latin Lover and personae extraordinaire, goes in and out of the home and life of a traditional Venezuelan family, the Ancízars. The fusion of patrician tranquility with a sensual revolution is the task that this playwright takes on, creating the magic of characters that speak today in the vernacular of the 1930’s, though we may infer that their feelings are from 1918. Only Cabrujas could carry this off… Case closed… The rest is up to you, the audience.

I have one thought that lingers… Throughout this work we have remembered Carlos Gardel – who died in a fire in 1935 – and we have remembered José Ignacio Cabrujas – who drowned in a pool in 1995. One met with death from a lack of water and the other from an excess of it. These facts, which seem rather ironic, are in essence that: a secret irony. Behind the amused grin we are left with respect, reflection, and nostalgia knowing that humor is the most certain thing in the life and work of both of these men: a great singer and a great writer.

There is a saying that has been around since 1960 when new technology gave us improved versions of Gardel’s original recordings. This phrase that made history was heard from his old and new fans alike: Carlos Gardel, cada día canta major (Carlos Gardel, his singing gets better by the day) Without getting sidetracked into analyses about whether he was the best ever… whether anyone else came close, etc.; this phrase says it all: Every day, he sings better… he improves with time.

And carrying on with this thought… without forgetting the freedom of his ideas, his words, his literary exercises, and above all, his lust for real life, and his palpable presence in every presentation and staging of his work…. without failing to remember those infinite cups of coffee where he sometimes buried his sight, to José Ignacio Cabrujas, skywalker… tight-rope artist who dances across the sky of our hopes, our dreams. It is to that Cabrujas that I would like to say that I still do not believe that he has died and so I do not miss him nor mourn him. Because when I remember him and re-read his work, I believe that his writing gets better by the day.

Mario Marcel – Artistic Director

About the author

José Ignacio Cabrujas (born in Caracas, July 17, 1937 – died Portamar, October 21, 1995) was a contemporary of Isaac Chocrón, Román Chalbaud and Rodolfo Santana. Together they are the most important quartet of contemporary Venezuelan playwrights.

In his drama, Cabrujas explored the existential dimensions of Venezuelan men and women, uncovering their isolation, exacerbated by the loneliness and dearth of communication in which they lived. To achieve his goal, he examined their past as a way to interpret their present, employing a language that pushed expressive dimensions to its limits. In this way, he interpreted human anguish by closing the artist’s sorrow and frustration in revealing and understanding his inner reality.

From various perspectives he sought to portray to his audiences the many challenges his protagonists faced in their daily lives, challenges from which they often recoiled because, more often than not, the leap was metaphysical. He also challenged popular assumptions and his protagonists’ excessive reliance on the mythical/religious beliefs of their world, which his view, served only to aggravate the human condition.

His work struggled with immobility and passivity, which are destructive and disabling. They both paralyze and sterilize, as happened to the inhabitants of San Rafael de Ejido in “Acto Cultural” (1976).

Cabrujas began his career as a playwright with “Juan Francisco Leon” (1959), followed by “Los Insurgentes” (1961). The first was based on a historical character, Juan Francisco Leon who rebelled against the King; the second, also inspired by history, describes the arrival of General Bermúdez – who fought in Venezuela’s war of independence, in Caracas. In both, the past is used as a template to shed light upon the present, which makes both works somewhat didactic and partisan.

With “El extraño Viaje de Simón el Malo” (1961) he acquired national fame and established his career as a playwright. His trademark is critical analysis hidden behind the veil of entertainment, in his representations of the contemporary man. The central theme is that of perpetual acts of dishonesty.

In “Tradición, Hospitalidad” (1062) the theme is the lack of understanding among human beings, illustrated here through the relationship of a couple. In 1963, he inaugurated “En Nombre del Rey”, where he again applied a historical event to the present. His protagonist is the Spanish conquistador Gonzalo Jiménez de Quesada, who tries to impose a Eurocentric perspective in the new continent. His sixth play, written together with Roman Chalbaud is “Días de Poder” (1967) in which a one-time political magnate devotes himself to writing his memoirs following his fall from power. “Fiésole” (1967) was the culmination of a somewhat elusive type of theater due in large part to the symbolism employed, a technique begun with “En Nombre del Rey”. In 1971, with the completion of “Profundo”, he returns once again to his characteristic style, where the past serves as a historic presence in the dramatic interpretations that illustrate the present. In “Acto Cultural” (1976) his play uses a plot derived from the lives of his people, one that carries a universal theme and reaffirms his particular style.

Critics agree that Cabrujas enjoyed his greatest box office success with “El Día Que Me Quieras” (1979). This extraordinary farce revolves around the visit of Carlos Gardel to Caracas in 1935 for a special performance for the dictator, Juan Vicente Gómez as well as his rather strange, if lukewarm, relationship with the Ancizar family, whom he meets by sheer serendipity. That meeting provokes an extraordinary decision by another character, the romantic communist Pio Miranda…

That work followed by “La Noche Oriental” (1982), a tale spun around the times of the Perez Jimenez dictatorship. Then, he produced “El Americano Ilustrado” (!987), where he examines the notion of power within the Venezuelan presidency, embodied in General Guzmán Blanco and the worship of him by those who surrounded him.

In 1989, comes “Reverón, Retrato de Artista con Barba y Pumpa” an intimate portrayal of a tale in the life of the painter Macuto. And in 1995 he completed “Sonny, diferencias sobre Otelo, el Moro de Venecia”, about a tormented Venezuelan boxed based on Shakespeare’s text, which focused on his existentialist declarations surrounding jealousy, portrayed here as a servitude involving the loved one, the rival and the one dethroned.

“Profundo”, “Acto Cultural” and “El Día Que Me Quieras” are considered to be his major works. They are the culmination of all his theatercraft, his coupe de theatre, which in one way or another he did not attain in his other works. This trio shows his uncanny ability to weave a tale around the same spirit: the feeling conveyed by our myths and cultural beliefs, a substantial cultural impetus that earned him national acclaim and recognition in Venezuela and around the world.

Edgar Antonio Moreno-Uribe

Theater critic and cultural commentator in major Venezuelan newspapers. Author of nine books about the history and criticism of Venezuelan theater.

Pio................…………………………. Javier Terán
María Luisa............………………... Vera Soltero
Elvira...............………………………. Nucky Walder
Matilde..............…………………….. Carmen Parejo
Plácido.............……………………... Jorge Borges
Gardel...............……………………… Hugo Reale
Le Pera..............………………………Aníbal Bogliaccini

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