The Sky on The Skin A call to discuss the global pandemic of misogyny through theater and performance

Set to premiere in Vancouver in 2021, Santiago Farías Calderón’s translation of Mexican playwright Edgar Chías looks at different forms of abuse towards women as it invites the audience to understand sexism as a form of violence.

Calderón’s translation of the play El Cielo en La Piel, by Chías, shows that discussions written more than 15 years ago on violence against women are still necessary, unveiling this world-wide issue for multicultural audiences.

“Canada’s history of the disappearance of thousands of Indigenous women has many similarities to the realities in Mexico. Here, we also have a problem with violence, a topic rarely spoken about, except by those who suffer it, often marginalized”, he says. “There’s this idea that just because we all live together, we are immediately multicultural. When the cultures that exist do not interact with each other, there can be no dialogue, no exchange. Our next step is to foster spaces that can continuously tell diverse stories, especially those that already have a following”.

When Canadian audiences see that what happens in Mexico happens here, too, Calderón expects that the effect may be to learn to identify our own biases and to choose to be better.

The Sky on The Skin,  from Mexico to Canada

“It is a historical moment in Vancouver, as the play has a full Mexican cast, composed by artists who live in Canada. I want to make sure the work presented gives space to those who rarely get the opportunity to be seen”, says Calderón. “When audiences see a play like this, using colloquial and crude language that is also poetic, there is an instant reaction: they start to reflect about these realities happening all around us”.

Santiago Farías Calderón.

In its form, viewers can expect an artistic language that draws inspiration from tempo-spatial arrangements, existential themes, and the use of narration as part of the dialogues.

If Calderón had to choose a short passage from the play The Sky on The Skin, his translation PhD project at UBC, it would be:

WOMAN 2: You unfold the damn note and find a short sentence that captures you, melts in you, and infuses you with fear. / WOMAN 1: It confuses you. A puddle in your legs. / WOMAN 2: It’s fear. A fluid warmth in your legs. / WOMAN 1: You’ve pissed yourself, literally. You’re going back home. / (…) / WOMAN 2: Something, that irreversible something, has begun its walk. It follows you. / WOMAN 1 & 2: Puta madre! Motherfucker! / GUY: I want you to be careful. I want you to be careful. / WOMAN 1: That’s what it says, just that, that’s what it says. / WOMAN 2: “Be careful”. That’s what it says. / WOMAN 1: Be careful of what, of who. Puta madre! / WOMAN 2: That’s what it says. Just that: Cuidado. Be careful.

EL CIELO EN LA PIEL,
EDGAR CHÍAS, 2003

Born in Mexico, Calderón graduated from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London and has pursued a career in experimental theatre.

Now, awarded a public scholarship in UBC’s Philosophy in Theatre program, supervised by Professor Hallie Marshall, Calderón’s project is called “Theatre translation as intercultural performance in 21st century Mexican theatre.” It discusses forms of violence against women providing a space on stage to voices and bodies that are often
marginalized.

Although not being an easy topic to present or debate, the project tries to do it from a perspective that honours all those who have lost their lives to misogyny, sexism, and class-race-gender forms of violence and oppression.

These women, then, become a metaphor to the social and structurally imposed condition of all women.

Theatre, then, can be an experience that resonates with reality, a performative space to reflect on our experiences as a collective community.

Calderón has presented a staged reading of The Sky on The Skin at UBC in 2018, mostly for colleagues and students. The full play was set to premiere in May 2020, but due to the pandemic it had to be cancelled. The Sky on the Skin is still set to premiere at the rEvolver Festival in Vancouver in 2021.

For more information, please visit www.grad.ubc.ca/campus-community/meet-our-students/farias-calderon-santiago

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