A Mysterious, Political KISS at Woolly Mammoth
A group of friends in Damascus. A soap opera watch party. A series of wildly dramatic revelations. And then, of course, there’s an important question at the heart of it all: who is watching, and who is being watched?
KISS is a play unlike any other — at times disquieting, often funny, and so smart that it will make your head spin. But from a writer of Guillermo Calderón’s caliber, one should expect nothing less. A Chilean playwright based in New York, he made a big splash in his home country with his early works: he won Best Play of the year in 2006 (Art Critics Circle of Chile), three Altazor Awards in 2007 including Best Director and Best Playwright, and the 2008 Jose Nuez Martin Award (Catholic University of Chile).
More recently his plays have been celebrated outside of Chile as well, from the Edinburgh International Festival to the Théâtre de la Cité Internationale in Paris. In 2013, his play Neva opened at the Public Theater in New York. Today, Mr. Calderón’s plays have toured around the world.
It makes sense that a playwright with a global sensibility would pen such a play as Kiss. One one level, Kiss is about translation — how we process what’s foreign to us, where we can find shared understanding and where we cannot. Calderón explores this concept as it relates to language, but perhaps more importantly, he also delves into what it means for art. Can a piece of art really render something as vast and horrific as the current conflict in Syria for an audience of Westerners? Can a play help us to understand even a small part of it? What about a play within a play? What about a soap opera?
Though Kiss leaves us without a clear answer, it seems that Calderón himself believes that theatre can, indeed, bring cultures together. From a recent interview with Pulsamerica:
Chilean theatre is always very political, which is important, because when other spheres depoliticize, it’s vital that theatre remains critical…theatre can be very useful for cultural integration. This is already happening to an extent, but it must continue.
Spoken like a true Woolly playwright. Will you, a savvy and cosmopolitan DC theatergoer, feel more culturally connected, fluent, integrated after watching Kiss? You’re going to have to find out for yourself. And lucky for you, it’s here soon: October 10 — November 6, only at Woolly.