For some, the opportunity to experience a culture from across the world is rare, since it often involves time, money and travel — things most college students don’t have extra amounts of — but thanks to a Peruvian theatre group, known as “Cuer2,” culture is suddenly at Slippery Rock University students’ fingertips.
Actors Roly Dávila and Jose Luis Urteaga, along with director of the group, Roberto Sánchez Piérola, arrived at Slippery Rock at the beginning of the week. The group, hailing out of Lima, Peru, came to perform two of their own works, “Switch” (created in 2008) and “Threads” (created in 2010).
The men have traveled all over South America, from Quito, Ecuador, to Iquique, Chili, and to parts of Argentina. Their arrival in New York City two weeks ago, however, marked a milestone for them, as it was their first time in America.
Each has enjoyed different parts of their stay so far. Urteaga loved the diversity of the city.
“New York was a diverse cultural cosmopolitan — we ate food from Pakistan and Vietnam and Thai, and that was really nice,” he said. “I heard different languages all the time when I was walking.”
Dávila was caught off guard by an American custom when he realized that ice was served with drinks, even in the winter.
Piérola talked about the snow.
“[In South America], there is snow in the Andes Mountains, but not really in the cities,” said Piérola. “There are very few cities in Peru that get snow, and they’re very high up!”
They all seemed to agree on one thing, however — that it’s cold in America.
When asked why it is they act and how they began acting, both Dávila and Urteaga were eager to tell their stories.
For Dávila, acting has always been a passion, but he was welcomed into the group by Piérola, who teaches at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos, in 2005.
“I did acting in the theatre all my life,” he said. “I liked it at first because it let me do things I couldn’t do in real life, and it was very enjoyable and fun, but then I started to think of theater as a way of knowing things and as a way to communicate things that couldn’t be communicated by words. So there’s this corporal language under the lights that gave me more possibilities of communication as a people. And now that’s my real interest.”
Urteaga shared a different story.
“In my case, I was living the normal life,” he said. “I was studying architecture. I saw a play of the group in 2002, which I wasn’t a part of the group at this time, and it gave me an idea of another world and place where you could be whatever you want to be and apart from that life that I was living.”
After his discovery, Urteaga joined the group in 2004.
Along with their performances, the men will be visiting different classes throughout the week, speaking and giving demonstrations in theater, language, arts, and dance courses, according to Dr. Thomas Daddesio, Associate Professor of French and Spanish.
According to Dávila, their play “Switch,” which was performed yesterday at the Sheehy Theater, in the basement of Maltby, is all about communication in the modern world.
“‘Switch’ is about two children who try to communicate to each other in this world of technology and computers, and about how the communication devices affect them in their search of trying to reach each other,” he said. “They are governed by this bond of communication.”
“Threads,” which will be shown this evening, is about the study of motion, according to Daddesio.
“The thing [that captivated me] was that it’s a play without text — you think of a play, and you think of actors and dialogue, but the fact that they were able to tell a story with just their bodies [was amazing],” Daddesio said. “The other thing is that they wear masks, so that cuts off another possibility of expression. It’s just something I’ve never seen before. It was very creative.”
Daddesio says he chose for Cuer2 to perform at SRU not only because of the quality of the performance, but also due in part to the quality of the actors.
“I’m always looking for… people who can relate to our students,” he said. “There are certain artists in the world who are very distant, and when you put them in front of a group of students, they wouldn’t be able to communicate, but Roberto and his group are not like that.”