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Death and the Maiden: Tie-In Editionby Ariel Dorfman
Reminiscent of the moral perplexities that became the distinctive feature of Greek drama, Death and the Maiden is an unabashed examination of the sometimes unexpected repercussions inherent in reconciliation with the past. Set in post-Pinochet Chile, or rather, "a country that is probably Chile but could be any country that has given itself a democratic government just after a long period of dictatorship," this play is a scorching indictment of the lingering physical, emotional, psychological, and interpersonal effects of repression and state-sponsored violence.
Ariel Dorfman, expatriate Chilean novelist, playwright, poet, and short story writer, has crafted a theatrical work of extraordinary import. Rife with the thematic elements endemic to his works (memory, identity, deceit, loyalty, morality, brutality, culture, and gender relations), Death and the Maiden questions how a society can move beyond the atrocities committed by a totalitarian regime once that regime is no longer in power. While the play has but three characters, its significance is of great consequence to the nation as a whole.
Though there are, of course, no easy answers in how to best deal with the enduring traumas (of torture, rape, murder, and disappearance) that epitomize autocratic tyranny, Dorfman bravely confronts the need to call such hideous actions to account. He does not, so it seems, seek a definitive answer, but, rather, takes an "important step toward healing a sick country," by creating "a work of art that might help a collective to purge itself, through pity and terror, in other words to force the spectators to confront those predicaments that, if not brought into the light of day, could lead to their ruin." Indeed, and Dorfman has done just that, with a singular work for the stage that should have implications the world over.
Synopses & Reviews
Ariel Dorfman's explosively provocative, award-winning drama is set in a country that has only recently returned to democracy. Gerardo Escobar has just been chosen to head the commission that will investigate the crimes of the old regime when his car breaks down and he is picked up by the humane doctor Roberto Miranda. But in the voice of this good Samaritan, Gerardo's wife, Paulina Salas, thinks she recognizes another man — the one who raped and tortured her as she lay blindfolded in a military detention center years before.
About the Author
Ariel Dorfman, poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright, is a Chilean expatriate who lives with his family in Durham, North Carolina, where he now holds the Walter Hines Page chair at Duke University.
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