Carmen Aguirre reveals what inspired the highly anticipated play Anywhere but Here

Interview with Carmen Aguirre: Latinx Culture and Immigrant Stories

Latincouver: We are very proud of supporting Anywhere but Here, a world premiere presented by electric company theater and produced in association with playwrights theater center and the pooch international performing arts festival that will be playing from February 4th to 15th at the Playhouse. We are with Carmen Aguirre today. And welcome to this conversation, Carmen. 

Carmen: Thank you, thank you for having me

Latincouver: Okay, so please tell us a little bit about how this idea came to be and how you and your team conceived this play, that has a lot of meaning for the current situation in Latin America. 

Carmen: Yeah, so this play is a magic realist play that is based on a series of dreams that I had about 30 years ago when I was young and going through theater school and the dreams were, my psyche trying to work out my cultural identity.  I was raised in exile, my family fled Chile in 1973 right after the Pinochet coup and ended up in Vancouver in 1974 as refugees. So as a person who was raised in a state of exile, when I was young and going to theater school, I had these very powerful dreams that again, were all about my psych trying to work out my cultural identity. So  the idea, the seed for the play, is based on those dreams. 

Latincouver: Okay. Thank you. So we know that the word Latinx is very used lately. What does that mean to you?


Yeah, it’s, it’s a word that came and It’s been used quite widely now, since about four or five years ago, and it’s a gender neutral term, right? So that if you say Latina, it’s feminine, if you say Latino, it’s masculine. Whereas if you say Latinx, it encompasses everybody, all genders. So that’s where that word came from. 

And I also forgot to continue answering the previous question, which is that the play anywhere but here takes place at the U.S./Mexico border right now. And, it really is an exploration of exile, migration up rootedness, borders, and displacement. So that’s why I think the play is very timely,  for right now. It’s a drama and comedy. There’s beautiful original music in it.

There are original raps in it that I have co-created with  Rwandan-Canadian, Juno award-winning hip hop artist, Shad. There are nine actors on stage. It’s the first time that a Latinx Canadian play of this size receives its world premier on a Canadian Mainstage. It’s the first time in Canadian theater history, so there’s a lot to celebrate. We have brought in the director who’s Chicana, from Los Angeles. Her name is Juliette Carrillo. It’s her first time working in Canada. The set designer is also a Chicano from California. His name is Christopher Acebo. It’s his first time working in Canada. So lots of first for this production.

Latincouver: Yeah. Like one of the questions that I had was about the talent or artists that are playing in anywhere but here. So that does pretty amazing to have all those, uh, amazing, uh, actors and actresses in the play. This production, as you say, it marks the first time in Canadian history that a Latinx work of this size will premiere on a major stage. What can the people  expect from Anywhere but here, And what is the main message from this play?

Carmen: Well, I don’t write message plays. I don’t believe in writing message plays because I would consider that very arrogant that I would have any kind of message for anybody.  

I think that people will be entertained. I think they will be moved. Although there are many characters in the play, there are four main characters that we follow, which is a family that is making their way back to Chile in a convertible from Vancouver. So it’s a reverse kind of refugee story.  It’s not the kind of immigrant story that talks about people arriving in Canada. It’s about people who are kind of refusing and refuting their refugee experience by trying to go back home. So that’s the family that we follow. And then we see them meet all kinds of people at the U.S./Mexico border who come from different areas and different spaces, which is where the magic realism trope comes in.

Paola: Carmen, it sounds amazing. Thank you very much for giving us this interview. And could say a small message in Spanish for us?

Carmen: Yeah. So, ojala pueda venir toda la comunidad latina a esta obra. Es una obra muy importante para todos nuestros latinos en toda Canadá, porque marca un momento histórico en el teatro canadiense, ya que es la primera vez que una obra latina de este tamaño recibe estreno mundial en uno de los teatros más grande de Canadá. Seria muy lindo verlos a todos allí. Para comprar las entradas simplemente tienen que ir al siguiente sitio web: Electric Company 

Latincouver: Perfecto, muchísimas gracias Carmen

Carmen: Gracias a ti. Y nos vemos en la obra?

Latincouver: Muchas gracias. Claro que si, ahi nos vemos.

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