So I saw a production of The Pueblo by the HartBeat Ensemble on Saturday evening in Hartford, CT. Though it carried a ticket fee, The Pueblo is a work-in-progress, to be premiered in its final form in February. I can not in good conscience allow this to happen. It is a work that must be stopped at all costs!
Quite simply, frankly, and soberly, The Pueblo is perhaps the worst atrocity to hit the stage since, well, I can’t think of anything that compares to it in terms of sheer bad-ness.
The Pueblo, a dual language, multi-cultural play that explores the changing politics of Latin America and how that affects people in North America. Known for such socialist leaders as Chile’s Salvador Allende and Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Latin America now has a new wave of such socialist leaders as Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Michelle Bachelet of Chile, and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua., who see themselves as “leaders of the Bolivarian Revolution.”At once insulting, spine-tingling, vomit-inducing, and suicide-provoking, The Pueblo mixes together what HartBeat calls “experimental” elements such as puppetry, movement, text, and music. If text in the theatre qualifies as an experiment, then this just might be kindergarten science class, in which students do experiments to learn what floats and what sinks (guess which this show does). As experiments go, having puppets on stage is on par with sticking drosophila in a jar with no holes for air and starting a stopwatch.
United States officials have called them “dictators who abuse power and manipulate their citizens.” The Latin American leaders have called the Bush administration, “the devil” and “imperialist.” Set in a fictional South American country, The Pueblo incorporates these themes at its core.
Lest HartBeat be chastised merely for failing to understand what constitutes experimentation, it should be said that these elements add absolutely nothing positive - indeed, they contributed quite a bit to the total, irreparable heap-of-scrap-masquerading-as-play that was presented. Yes, I am including the text in this claim. The entirety of the play was multilingual - a mix of English and Spanish that can not, respectfully, be called Spanglish. When each sentence is a 50/50 mix of both languages (as in “I want to comer el pollo y el arroz”), with certain phrases repeated in both languages (“I am your president. Soy tu présidente.”) might more aptly be called Manglish. I am fairly well-versed in both languages, but the absolute inanity with which the dialogue was constructed rendered much of it completely incomprehensible (particularly that which was speedily, tone-lessly, and far too often rhyme-ish-ly, talk-sung by the guitar-strumming Narrator).
One extreme moment of translation left me with my mouth agape, wishing I could have the last 45 minutes of my life back so I might sit outside staring at a tree and enjoy what was a glorious northeastern summer evening. Read this translated line from a familiar play and tell me if you see anything wrong:
O Romeo, Romeo. Dónde está mi Romeo?In case you don’t know a spot of Spanish, “Dónde está” is asking where. Hmm, okay, except Shakespeare would shoot you in the face for misinterpreting “wherefore” so grossly. Wherefore means Why.
Regarding The Pueblo, that, after all, is the question.
Except it’s no more of a question than if I had been playing Hamlet in this production. Of course I would choose to end my life. Immediately, and with no reservations. Which brings me to the conclusion of this review - a bit of a request, a plea to the greater greatness of humanity, which is to help me help the world by Stopping The HartBeat Ensemble.
The instructions are simple. Go to this website and take the survey about The Pueblo. Give them some extremely low scores, feel free to copy and paste admonitions from this post in the answer spaces, and if you’re feeling awesome (and you should, after all) toss in a link to this post with the words “I saw your show and agree wholeheartedly with this review. Please consider canning this production and ceasing the making of theatrical work forever. In the interest of humanity and in order to come closer to attaining your company’s mission of enacting positive social change, please stop. Immediately. Thank you.”
That is all. The Pueblo is playing again next weekend if you’re masochistic.