by Lynn on October 5, 2019

in The Passionate Playgoer

At Factory Studio Theater, Toronto, Ont.


Written and performed by Carmen Aguirre

Directed by Brian Quirt

Lighting by Michelle Ramsay

DJ Pedro Chamale.

Writer/performer Carmen Aguirre calls Broken Tailbone “structured improv” that “celebrates the human body, the human spirit and the Latinx community in Canada…; and celebrates a woman of colour of a certain age …. who takes pleasure in her body, her sensuality and her politics of resistance.”

It’s Carmen Aguirre’s 80 minute Latinx dance lesson involving the audience while she explains how she broke her tailbone. She explains that it all started in 1974 when she was seven years old. She and her immigrant parents had escaped the dictatorship in Chile and come to Vancouver. Her parents started the first Latinx dance hall in Vancouver as a place where people could come, dance and be with their community. And it was a way of fundraising for the revolution back home.

Carmen Aguirre joined the resistance in Chile when she was a teen. She went to theatre school and was lonely because she was one of the few young women of colour in her class.  She found solace in Latin music and danced in her room. She graduated, traveled, performed celebrated her sexuality with many willing men. Some young, some not, some she just met.

For the 80 minutes of the show DJ Don Pedro Chamale and Carmen Aguirre banter and trade stories and quips. She never stops moving. The Studio space is bare except for the stage and some chairs along the sides of the walls for those not inclined or able to dance. Aguirre patiently and enthusiastically teaches her audience the various steps and explains the importance of each song used to help tell her complex story. The majority of the audience is up for the exercise no matter how rhythm-challenged they are. Director Brian Quirt has some good hip action.

If you sit in the chairs along the sides you won’t be able to see Carmen Aguirre on the stage or for those moments she comes down from the stage onto the dance floor because of all the people dancing in the room. You might also not be able to hear her properly either because the microphone/sound system is lousy and muffles a lot of what she is saying.

Carmen Aguirre is a prolific playwright who usually writes autobiographically about the plight of the immigrant, politics and resistance. Her play The Refugee Hotel is one bracing example. Broken Tailbone is a long story for a quick punch line set against a backdrop of a Latinx dance lesson that somehow makes it all seem so tenuous.

A Nightswimming production presented by Factory Theatre:

Opened: Oct. 3, 2019.

Closes: Oct. 13, 2019.

Running Time: 80 minutes.

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