The Small History of Chile (La pequeña historia de Chile)
translated by Prof. Charles Philip Thomas
La pequeña historia de Chile (The Brief History of Chile) is a farce/satire in which four teachers and a principal of a high school attempt to give classes in a classroom where ``neither the materials nor content exist to teach; there are no maps or flag, there's no history, there is forgetting, therefore there is no country.'' The stage directions in the manuscript indicate that the five actors ``all look more like ghosts than flesh and blood beings. One could say deformed memories because of the bad treatment of forgetting.'' Not only do the necessary utensils not exist in the school, but one of the teachers states that ``the history of Chile has become lost. They think New York is the capital of the U.S. and that Napoleon defeated the Araucana Indians.'' Categorized by the critics as a farce or satire, the action and theme come together in an identity crisis of a post-modern society, where everything is fragmented. The ideas are concise and the humor is indeed biting in this work which is destined to become one of the classics of Latin American theatre.
(A sea of desks occupies the whole stage area, while even the audience is
seated at desks. Narrow windows, little light. Old blackboards, ancient. A portrait of some Father of the Country, faded, twisted, badly hung. Wooden walls or plaster with cracks. The colors of a typical rural government building.)
1. SANHUEZA'S DREAM
(Pursuit with searchlights. SANHUEZA with the Chilean flag in his arms, on top of the desks. THE PRINCIPAL and the teachers hold him back, yelling at him from far away. A storm. Police sirens getting louder, THE PRINCIPAL perhaps uses a megaphone.)
PRINCIPAL: Calm down, Mr. Sanhueza! Don't move! Stay where you are!
SANHUEZA: Why? Huh? Why?
PRINCIPAL: Because. Come down real slow, slowly. Right now, please.
SANHUEZA: I don't plan on coming down.
PRINCIPAL: Come down slowly, I'm telling you.
SANHUEZA: Why? Why should I come down?
PRINCIPAL: You have to set an example, Mr. Sanhueza!
SANHUEZA: An example of what?
PRINCIPAL: Of consideration and respect! Mr. Sanhueza, for once and for all!
SANHUEZA: What respect? What consideration are you talking to me about?
PRINCIPAL: The respect needed so that everything remains as it is!
SANHUEZA: That's giving in! That's being humiliated!
PRINCIPAL: We're not here to cause confusion! We're the light, Mr. Sanhueza! We're the right path!
SANHUEZA: Thought control! Conformism! Indoctrination! Brain washing!
PRINCIPAL: No, it's the law. THE LAW! The rules of the game. The bottom line, do you understand?
SANHUEZA: Anything else?
PRINCIPAL: No more. Get down, please.
SANHUEZA: NOTHING ELSE? Can't we do anything else?
PRINCIPAL: There's nothing else we can, should, or know how to do.
SANHUEZA: You don't need us for that now. Don't you ever go out? Don't you read the newspapers? Don't you watch TV?
PRINCIPAL: The high school is the high school.
SANHUEZA: Do you think we can compete? Do you know what the kids get for information?As a world view?
PRINCIPAL: The high school is the high school and a teacher is a teacher!
SANHUEZA: What does school matter to them? What does school matter? Huh?
PRINCIPAL: Get down from there, Mr. Sanhueza!
SANHUEZA: I won't descend into hell again! I won't go down to hell again!
PRINCIPAL: I'm the principal!
SANHUEZA: Teachers should be angels again. I don't want them to treat me like a guard in juvenile detention, or like a preacher of a system that doesn't exist.
PRINCIPAL: If you don't come down in ten seconds, we'll shoot you!
SANHUEZA: I knew it, I knew it.
PRINCIPAL: Are you serious about this?
SANHUEZA: I remember Rancagua, I remember Concepción, I remember Santa María de Iquique, I remember the noble defeat that founded this country far from everything, lacking in everything.
SANHUEZA: This is the glory of the defeat. Country of angels, we get wings after dying. Chile is the world's purgatory, they come here to rescue those who still have salvation...
SANHUEZA: Save your children! Take them out of school! Don't put them in the hands of people like me! Do they even know how much money a guy who watches over their children makes?
SANHUEZA: Give up! Throw your sons and daughters to the law of fame! Let them become devout followers of the roster of giant sales and the gods of money!
SANHUEZA: I'll die at peace with my conscience! I will not contribute to the national schizophrenia! I was executed in front of the blackboard!
SANHUEZA: Chile does not exist!
SANHUEZA: History doesn't exist!
PRINCIPAL: Zero... (A volley of rifle shots. A funeral march played by a band. Mr. SANHUEZA remains aloft. He comes down disillusioned.)
SANHUEZA: Even death is a fraud. Principal? (Nobody answers.) Principal?
(Absolute silence. SANHUEZA waves the flag without really wanting to.)
SANHUEZA: Viva Chile.