The Abyss of the Birds

June 14, 2018 - June 17, 2018


The Downstairs | 66 E 4th Street

Thursday to Saturday at 7PM; Sunday at 2PM

$25 Adult Tickets; $20 Students/Seniors/CCCNY Members; Limited $10 Tickets (+1 Facility Fee)

In association with The Cuban Cultural Center of New York
Presented by Teatro Obstáculo
Written & Directed by Víctor Varela
Music by Pedro Pablo Pedroso
Lights by Bibiana Scholnik


Lady Macbeth discovers that Coma-ander is going to attend the premiere of a contemporary art exhibition and goes in his search. The Coma-ander hasn’t just shown up in his very best shape and lived to update the most twisted forms of authoritarianism; he also suspects that Lady Macbeth’s theater is not understood. It’s to Lady Macbeth’s credit that the discursive enigmas worsen the confusion of the Comma-ander: the lack of race purity, the linguistic corruption of humanity, and her use of the Spanish and English language to emphasize miscegenation take him indirectly to draw his demons and to expose his worst ideas in public. He is sure that Lady Macbeth came to kill him and attacks his officers for letting her in his security bubble. When there is no turning back, and it is too late to escape, the character realizes, surprised, that Lady Macbeth is willing to negotiate. They close a deal, and the same vicious circle recurs. The Coma-ander has died, and the world remains as it is.
The play addresses the plasticity of language in its widest diversity: painting, the body of the actor, the word, speech. The conceptual axis is pendular, in its oscillation between the particular and the global, the Abyss of the Birds goes from Cuba to the world, playing to multiply the associations based on a dominant idea: Does the concentration camp, as a paradigm of extermination, remain interesting in its anecdote? Perhaps the extreme events of humanity: war, starvation, ethnic groups’ struggles, the exodus of refugees, racism, and discrimination remind us of those past events as non-worn-out circumstances, despite its excessive reality of history? And how about more subtle situations like the dominant networks of production and consumer trade, the linear economy, the social networks? Is the totem of our superimposed screens (the TV, the computer, the cell phone, what sets our dehumanization in the name of progress? Are we, recruited by globalization, sold a world without borders while the control devices increase so that nobody moves from one place to another? If “The aporia of Auschwitz - as Giorgio Agamben’s statement - is, indeed, the very aporia of historical Knowledge: a non-coincidence between facts and truth, verification and comprehension” (p.12), it is not surprising that human race is reiterated in the unimaginable dimension. Both characters of the play, the Coma-ander, and Lady Macbeth crave power, but none have learned to manage it. "Victim and Executioner are equally ignoble, the lesson of the camps is the fraternity of abjection" (Levi, p. 216) As in its narrative, it’s the one play that ought to be seen by those who believe there’s nothing left to say about totalitarianism.

Bárbata María Barrientos & Yaima Mena as Lady Macbeth
Pedro Vendimilla as Coma-ander

Teatro Obstáculo was founded in Cuba in 1985, and the company is now settled in New York. The Teatro Obstáculo company emerged in 1985 in Havana, Cuba, when Victor Varela emptied the living room of his house to work in a space where each actor had one square meter and an audience of 8 spectators every night. A play that began as an underground theater event soon became a domestic and international success. The work of the company focuses primarily on the investigation of formal and conceptual elements of the experimental theatre work, a practice of risk, innovation and theatrical language renewal in all fields. The obstacle is not only the raw material with which the Teatro Obstáculo makes the difference with other forms of creation through history. It is also the foundation that justifies its existence and a catalyst that allows an iconoclast sui generis praxis. Theater Obstáculo has been a nomadic and touring troupe which had headquarters in several countries: Cuba, Argentina, and the United States. Theater of vertigo, of the aporia, of the aesthetics of difficulty, since founded in 1985, it has the same mission: to explore the possibilities of theater as a medium. The company encounters different cultures in search of creativity which has expanded the field work of a very own poetics that is essentially concerned with problematizing the commonplaces of theater to burden its ordinary relations as a strategy of resistance and invention.