Buenos Aires usually receives outside attention for its tango, raucous nightlife, and precarious economy. Theatre, not so much. Understandable, considering the most immediate clue to its existence is the garish signage lining Avenida Corrientes, where you travel back in time to a world where Riverdance, Xanadu, and Mamma Mia are first-run shows. Despite that, there’s a thriving and very contemporary underground rich with interesting content.
The bearded, burly duo known as Lolo Y Lauti are more likely to quote Xanadu than Borges, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know their shit. Proving it’s possible to be both educated and clever, their form of theatre successfully and un-self-consciously blends the high and lowbrow. Fortune has smiled upon them in the form of grants and collaborations, and they’re gearing up to stage one of their works—which tackles the subject of abortion in space—at the Teatro Colón’s super-prestigious Centro de Experimentación. Recent productions include Liceo, a “twinkstallation” and Hipsterísima, an anthropological tour of a cool-kids party, complete with piles of fake cocaine and a DJ. To date, they’re most famous for Bimbo Es Ricky, a one-woman show based on Ricky Martin’s autobiography. I caught up with them between rehearsals to see what could possibly top that.
What are you considering for your next project?
Lolo: We want to do a thing with drag queens.
A respectful thing?
Lolo: Now that we’re not opening a play every week like last year, we’re doing lots of thinking.
How many things did you do last year?
Lolo: That’s counting openings, re-runs, and festivals.
How did you meet?
Lolo: We met at this party in Mi Casa. I used to photocopy each week’s Dengue [Dancing, a party Lolo started] flyer and carry some in my pocket.
Lauti: I walked up to you and you handed me the flyer and I said, “Oh!”
Lolo: He came to the next Dengue. Then we had this proto-friendship phase where we chatted a lot on Facebook.
Lauti: At 3am, our magic hour.
Lolo: We still do; it’s the time for our finest chatting. So much so that we have this idea about doing a play where we want to read our conversations.
Lauti: We will lose all of our friends.
Lolo: Not friends, we would lose all of the theatre connections we have. We had another bonding experience at this Spanish dude’s house. He was doing an intimate farewell party, which he asked me to DJ. I said, “Sure, can I invite some people?” 200 people showed up.
You accidentally brought 200 people?
Lolo: I felt so bad. We were super drunk and there was nothing to drink except Gancia, which is terrible. And there were no glasses, just this Tupperware. So we did this drink, which was Gancia in the Tupperware with a little bit of tap water.
Lolo: For my birthday a month later at Dengue, Lauti came with the Tupperware, which he’d stolen, and we asked the bar for some Gancia and went to the toilet and did the same thing.
When did you first work together?
Lolo: I was doing this play Susana, which was based on the Bible. We had this installation on the walls, 500 colored pixels that I had to keep putting up and taking down. I was hungover and really needed someone to help out. Lauti said, “I’ll help.” And the rest is history.
Lauti, what did you do before?
Lauti: I studied film. I don’t like it. I’m too self-critical, and I don’t like when there are lots of people involved and then someone has to edit it, then it’s the sound, etc. I have a lot of unfinished work because I like the more immediate.
It seems like your plays attract young audiences, not just the usual hoity-toity theatre people. Hipsterísima was theatre, but there were people who were really hoping to stay for an actual party.
Lolo: That’s working with non-actors as well. We really like super-talented actors, but sometimes we work with non-actors, because we are non-directors.
And now you’re doing your twinkstallation, Liceo.
Lauti: I’m afraid about the cast. I’m worried they’re old.
Lolo: Like Grease, the world’s oldest high school students.
Lauti: It’s like when kids can’t tell if you’re older than their parents; they don’t understand age. I think it’s the same, but in reverse.
Aside from twinks, what else is new about this one?
Lolo: When you arrive, we ask you for your number. We call you and recite the dialogue; the actors never speak. It’s like a Sweet Valley High, 60s British boarding school homoerotic show. But there’s no sex or kissing.
What else are you doing this year?
Lolo: This summer, we’re doing two installations. Pool Party, which will take place in a pool, and Cars, which will take place in a taxi. We’re also working with Andrés Andreani, this experimental filmmaker from here who lives in Paris. The actors and audience will all have cameras and they’ll record each other and then we’ll make a movie out of it.
Lauti: Also, another Bimbo Es Ricky.
Lolo: As I said before, we want to rethink that. We’ve learned from Susana you can’t do the same thing twice in different spaces. The first run was amazing. And then we went a second and third time and it was so oppressively bad.
Lauti: Among other things, we were working with an actress who was totally crazy. Everybody who she knew was now famous and she wasn’t.
Lolo: She really resented that, and she was bringing bad vibes to the whole thing.
Lauti: She’s so fucking crazy. She posts things on Facebook like, “Today I had to take three buses and two subways for an audition, and they won’t pay for my transportation.’
Lolo: She’s always complaining about not getting paid for shit.
Lolo: We would probably work with her again, though, knowing us.
Lauti: We got hate mails, we still read them a lot.
Who wrote hate mail?
Lauti: The crazy one.
Lolo: Here’s how we work: the mail Lauti has to send, I write. And the ones I have to send, he writes. It’s always good cop, bad cop. I’m the good cop, of course.
Lauti: I have to be the mean one. Today I went to the dentist, and she told me I grind my teeth too much. And then I realized that all day long I am gritting my teeth.
Lolo: I’m going to get astrological; I’m a Leo and he’s an Aquarius, and they are complementary. It’s not like I’m good and Lauti’s bad, but I can’t say no. I used to be very vague before I met Lauti. I learned a lot from him.
Lauti: He learned it’s okay sometimes to be hated, and I learned it’s okay sometimes to be loved. Everyone loves Lolo, but sometimes you just have to say, “You’re gonna do this. I don’t care.” Because actors are so complicated. And the weird thing is that if you treat them bad, they respect you.
Lolo: We broadened each other’s horizons. Lauti likes clear storylines and has a more pop sensibility. I’m a big fan of the avant-garde, of “nobody will understand this.” He’s always criticizing me for being too obscure, and I’m always criticizing him for being too sitcom-y. But we always reach a middle ground.