Florencia Cordeu’s play Autoreverse will feature in the Casa Latin American Theatre Festival in London. Cordeu tells Roda Musa about how her play is inspired by the cassette tapes her family once used to communicate with each other after they were forced apart by the political situation in Argentina
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I’d say it was a silent play I did in Norway with an American director called Phillip Zarrilli. The show, called The Water Station, was about migration and the movement of people from one place to another, and had an international cast. Migration is a topic I am very much drawn to.
Can you tell me about Autoreverse?
As the name suggests, the play is related to the analogue system. Specifically the cassettes shared between my parents, who moved abroad, and their family who lived back in Argentina. This was their main source of communication. My parents, with us [their children], moved from Argentina to Chile in 1976. Phone calls were very expensive and so the most convenient way to stay in touch was through these cassettes. Of course, there were letters as well but there is nothing like hearing a voice. This play is very much based on this real-life experience.
Is this your first time participating in Casa?
No, this is my second time working with the festival. I previously did a play from Ecuador called Our Lady in the Clouds, directed by Omar Elerian. It was very close to my heart, as the characters in it are Argentinian exiles. My family left Argentina at the beginning of the Videla dictatorship, the political situation made it too dangerous. So this play, Our Lady in the Clouds, is where the idea for Autoreverse first began. I mentioned to Elerian how my family would stay in contact and he incorporated the cassettes in my character’s story.
What struggles have you faced in your career?
I guess finding the space to take your ideas and all your energy, and put it into practice. I think that is something that everyone struggles with, especially in London. It is a city where you can get lost quite easily in the everyday basic needs, such as paying your rent. So to have the space for art and creating is a luxury. I’m also not originally from here, which can be one kind of struggle, although I’ve never felt like an outsider. I’ve lived in London for 20 years, so I’ve lived here longer than anywhere else in the world. Of course, it takes time to make a home, even for a British person – you need to find your niche and the people you want to work with.
Who is your inspiration?
My family. My mum, of course, and the resilience to reinvent herself in a new country and a new place each time she had to move. She always had the power to keep going when things got really hard. I think that is an essential inspiration to have; because, of course, through your family is how you learn to see the world. And also, every time I see an artist finding a way to say what they wanted to say, how they wanted to say it, I am inspired. I truly believe in art and its healing power.
Training: Rose Bruford College, acting, (1996-99)
First professional role: Nadia’s Smile, Tabard Theatre, 2001