Theatre group Malayerba from Ecuador wants to be close to the people

December 2006 -

Theatre group Malayerba from Ecuador has been active for nearly thirty years. Their production Tirenle Tierra (Let's forget it) addresses male-female relationships and domestic violence. Actress Cristina Marchán: "He is my husband, so he could hit me. That is what many women say to one another in conversations. The violence is a gigantic problem in Ecuador. It is so widespread that many women simply think it is normal."

Malayerba was founded by three actors. Marchán: "Our special desire was to make theatre that was politically and economically independent. María del Rosario Francés, who is originally from Pamplona and fled from the Franco regime, writes most of the texts for our performances. The topics come from everyday life. Our performances are always about current social themes and are oriented towards our society in Ecuador as well as that of neighbouring countries. They are often about oppression, discrimination and mandatory migration because those are themes that concern many people. And we want to be close to the people."

The conditions for making theatre are difficult in Ecuador, says Marchán: "Making theatre is a Northern thing. For countries like Ecuador, the concept of culture is primarily folklore. There is no serious debate about culture. We all have other jobs to earn our living." Malayerba is a popular group and can sometimes gain income for new productions from foreign tours. With support from the Hivos cultural fund, Malayerba recently acquired its own space for its performances in the capital of Ecuador, Quito. "It is great to have our own place. But we continue to perform in poor neighbourhoods, as well as in prisons and orphanages and in smaller communities in the countryside. We think it is important to personally visit our audiences there."

Theatre group Malayerba brought a guest performance to the Community Art Festival held in Utrecht in late November. The festival was supported by the Hivos-NCDO Culture Fund.