Whose life is it, anyway?Katie Powerson September 28, 2022 at 8:09 pm

What is an artist’s relationship to their art? The complexities of that question form the central story in Franco-Uruguayan playwright Sergio Blanco’s Tebas Land, now appearing under the direction of Argentinean director Juan Parodi in its U.S premiere as part of the fifth Destinos: Chicago International Latino Theater Festival. Presented by the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance  in collaboration with the National Museum of Mexican Art, the show is performed in Spanish with English subtitles. 

Tebas Land Through 10/9: Thu-Sat 7:30 PM, Sun 3:30 PM, Chicago Dramatists, 1105 W. Chicago, destinosfest.org, $20-$25. In Spanish with English subtitles.

Tebas Land tells the story of S (Esteban Schemberg), a playwright seeking to create a project around the story of Martín (Tommy Rivera-Vega), a young man who murdered his father. Through several meetings on a prison basketball court, the pair gets to know each other as S gives Martín a space to share his story in his own words.

Guided by his artistic vision, S initially intends to understand Martín’s decisions to kill his father and to unravel the psyche of a parricide before, during, and after his crime. As their meetings progress, questions emerge about the complexities of portrayal and what it means to represent someone else’s story. The line between the artist and his subject becomes increasingly obscured, impacting S’s final vision for his performance. 

Parodi and both performers skillfully illustrate the intricacies and subtleties of S and Martín’s relationship, whilst centering the play’s most critical questions. The central relationship is elevated by the play’s unique structure, which is distinctly and sometimes humorously meta and weaves thoughtful parallels between Martín and the myth of Oedipus.

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