Following a critically acclaimed season at Melbourne’s Malthouse Theatre, The Book of Loco returns to Adelaide.
With only six shows, Windmill Theatre will present the award winning one man play at Space Theatre specifically for a teenage audience.
Written by, and starring, Venezuelan-Australian writer, actor and director Alirio Zavarce, The Book of Loco is a semi-autobiographical piece about having to go mad in order to stay sane.
Alirio says he based the work on a difficult time in his life, and writing about it helped him to make sense of his world.
“The Book of Loco is a geographic, personal and mental journey. On September 11, circumstances in my life changed. My relationship with my wife ended in Melbourne, my mother was diagnosed with cancer in Venezuela and two planes crashed into The One World Trade Center in New York. All this happened at the same time. All that I had worked for and created disappeared. So I had to start a journey – a physical and healing journey. The whole world was collapsing around me and all I had was a notebook and a pen so I wrote and wrote; one notebook became 13. That’s where it began,” he says.
“The Book of Loco is a one-man show; kind of like a battle between myself as the actor in front of an audience and “Loco”, my alter ego that believes that world and him are one. The actor always affirms that he is not mad, while Loco always tries to bring any global evidence to demonstrate that the world is mad and therefore sometimes you have to become mad to stay sane.’
The decision to team up with Windmill Theatre to present to young audiences was inspired by Alirio’s positive experience with school audiences at previous shows.
“During the Fringe, and at the Malthouse seasons, we had amazing school audiences, and Windmill Director Rose Myers approached me with the idea to do a season for young people and I loved the idea,” Alirio says.
“It is fascinating to watch how young audiences engage with the show. And it’s great to challenge why we have certain collective perspectives, say on politics or the media, so it’s great to unpack that with them. This season with Windmill is aimed at teens aged 14 and up, so some of these young audiences weren’t even born when 9/11 happened. So they do not know how these events changed our world.”
By engaging young people in his show, Alirio Zavarce is hoping he can show them the hope and goodness in the world around them.
“I hope they can take away that, regardless of the destruction and chaos in the world, there is also so much hope, beauty and strength in the human race. We can create and rebuild or we can choose to destroy,” he says.
“The Book of Loco is like a survival guide, and Loco’s mission is to help the audience deal with destruction and loss. But as a good story to tell, there are fun things, surprises, funny moments and touching things and, of course, a bit of madness.”
The show touches on real life experiences, which expose Alirio’s heartache to his audiences, but he says it’s a sacrifice he’s willing to make for his art.
“At the time I felt that I really couldn’t talk to anyone about what was happening to me, so I just wrote. But from the very first moment, when I wrote the title of the show in the first notebook, I was speaking to an audience. I was writing to unknown friends that sit in a theatre and will listen to this story,” he says.
“I love theatre and I really believe that we should be telling our stories, Australian stories and plays that reflect who we are in 2015. Writing helped me focus on something positive and use my pain, my experiences to create art. Pain has to have a bit of currency, right?”
Rather than feel vulnerable, though, Alirio feels strength in his choice to allow others to learn from his experiences.
“A quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was one of the self-imposed rules from the shaping of the material is, “If a man writes a book, let him set down only what he knows. I have guesses enough of my own.” Therefore I could only write about things that I have lived and experienced. I could only write from my perspective,” he says.
“That is the reason behind the use of biographical material; my perspective has been shaped by my own personal experiences and in time has created my knowledge. The Book of Loco is my take on madness, a madness we all live and it seems like normality. The centerpiece of which is my theory of “Rational Madness”. If I share my perspective with you, you may see things from my unique point of view and we may be able to learn something about each other and our world.”
With the season starting at Space Theatre on August 14th until 22nd, Alirio is looking forward to sharing with his audience and talking with them about the ideas, themes and subject matter of the show.
“I love surprising the audience. I want to take them on a journey where they can laugh, cry, think, reflect and question the world. It is an intrinsic part of the work that our experience depends on our perspectives and our experiences are all unique, but at the same time we are all human and we all feel pain, loss, fear, hope and love. So I love talking to the audience after the show and discovering what their experience was,” he says.
As an advocate of the arts, Alirio Zavarce is not only a renowned performer in Adelaide, he has also spent much time working in youth theatre.
Currently the Artistic Director (and founder) of True North Theatre Ensemble, Alirio is passionate about encouraging creative opportunities for youths.
“True North Youth Theatre Ensemble was created to give opportunities to young people in the northern area of Adelaide. I think it is vital for their development to have creative outcomes, to be able to tell their stories and to develop their confidence and creative skills,” he says.
“I think there are a lot of sports opportunities, but very limited opportunities in the arts. In True North we ‘learn by making’ so we give them skills to devise, to create theatre. They are involved in the making, and use all their skills in the making of a piece. It is great to see them growing as young artists. I think that is an experience that every young person should have.”
The Book of Loco opens this week, so grab tickets for you and your young ones through BASS.
By Libby Parker
WHAT: The Book of Loco
WHEN: August 14-15 and 20-22: 7.00pm, August 22: 2pm
WHERE: Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre
HOW MUCH? Tickets: $30 adults / $25.50 concession, groups 6+ / $24 under 30s. Book at BASS.net.au or call 131 246.