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The mention of the nation of Chile, for most Sri Lankans with an interest in the arts, likely conjures images of the great poet Pablo Neruda, and his brief time in Colombo as the Chilean consul in the late 1920s. As recently as January of this year, Chile launched a fresh investigation into the mysterious circumstances surrounding Neruda’s death 12 days after the coup that brought the dictator Augusto Pinochet to power. The old wounds of the Pinochet era are, it seems, not so easily healed.

This August in Colombo, Guillermo Calderón, Chile’s foremost contemporary playwright, will direct an unprecedented Sri Lankan production of his acclaimed play Villa, which grapples with the legacy of a notorious Pinochet-era detention site. This unique intercultural theatrical collaboration was initiated by Indika Senanayake, a Sri Lankan actress and theatre-maker based in New York, and it will be presented in partnership with the International Center for Ethnic Studies (ICES).

In this riveting play, three women find themselves on a committee that will decide the future of Villa Grimaldi. Like any good committee, they debate, argue, vote, and re-vote, grappling with the difficulty of raising a monument to the real and complex history of an authoritarian regime. Calderón, whose work as playwright and director has received wide international acclaim will direct the play in a limited invitation-only run of Villa on August 14and 15.

Calderón has been called “an authentic genius of the theatre” by The New Yorker magazine: “You can’t say you’ve heard or seen any of it before, which may make you want to hear and see it again.”His plays Neva (2006) and Clase (2008) both won Best Play of the Year (Art Critics Circle of Chile); Neva also won three Altazor Awards in 2007 including Best Director and Best Playwright. Neva premiered in New York at the Public Theater in 2013, under Calderón’s direction. His recent plays include the duo of Villa and Speech. Speech was developed at the International Residency at the Royal Court; this pair of plays premiered in Chile at the international festival Santiago A Mil, and went on to run at the Memory Museum in Santiago.Mr. Calderón graduated with a degree in Arts from the Universidad de Chile and has a Master of Liberal Arts from the City University of New York. He is currently working on a commission from the Public Theater in New York City.
Ms. Senanayake is a graduate of Columbia University’s MFA program in Acting and has worked extensively as an actress with theatres in New York, including the acclaimed investigative theatre company The Civilians and the Obie award-winning experimental theatre Target Margin.For inquiries and to secure your invitation, please contact VillaProjectSriLanka@gmail.com