This year marks the 80th birthday of famed Argentine playwright Roberto Cossa. The writer-director’s current status of cultural privilege — numerous theater awards, a presidential post in the General Society of Argentine Authors — belies a time when making theater in Argentina was truly dangerous, a vital affront to a repressive dictatorship. In 1981, Cossa was part of an “Open Theatre” movement, staging plays for just one week in a refurbished sparkplug factory in Buenos Aires until three fire bombs were set off inside the theater; it didn’t reopen for 20 years.
Perhaps for reasons like this, Cossa’s theatrical tone evolved from largely realist to largely grotesque and absurd, responding to the restrictions of a military dictatorship with cloaked literary bombs.Años Dificiles (Difficult Years) is considered one of his most representational examples of the modern grotesque play, a four-person comedy-turned-tragedy about middle-class family and friends devouring themselves. Over a dinner gathering, issues such as childhood resentments, racial prejudice, media manipulation, and sexual morality percolate to the surface, in a script driven by allusion and metaphor. Sounds like a dense but rewarding 75 minutes, a fine choice for Teatro Avante to conclude its 29th-annual International Hispanic Theatre Festival of Miami.
July 24-26, 8:30 p.m.; Sun., July 27, 5 p.m., 2014