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On the Way to the Sawmill (A Hikikomori’s Space)

Theater as Social Change with International Performance Artist

International performance artist Marco Magoa uses theater as a tool for social change.

“Theater is a place to dream. It is a fantasy,” said Magoa, who is from Madrid, Spain.

The theater provides a safe space to tell confrontational and provocative stories while providing exposure to multiple, and sometimes uncomfortable, viewpoints, he said.

On his second visit to the University of Idaho as a guest artist of the College of Letters, Arts and Social Sciences, Magoa is working with students in the Departments of Modern Languages and Cultures and Theatre Arts. On May 3-4, he and students will present two emotionally charged, free performances of “On the Way to the Sawmill (A Hikikomori’s Space)” at the Hartung Theater.

In Japanese, “hikikomori” is a term that refers to reclusive adolescents or adults who withdraw from social life, often seeking extreme degrees of isolation. “Sawmill” is a raw and emotional dramatization of adolescent alienation. The script deals with themes of suicide, sex and violence.

It’s a graphic look at our contemporary world, but Magoa doesn’t want to come off as didactic.

“People know what our reality is so I don’t want to teach. I want to ask ‘what are we doing wrong? What can we do better?’ I am very provocative,” Magoa said. “But you have to be very careful and sensitive. We have to take care of people.”

He notes Idaho has one of the highest rates of farmer suicide in the nation and compares it to his homeland. Magoa’s home region in rural Spain has one of the highest rates of suicide in Europe.

“This play talks about abandoned people, the silence and indifference of our societies and its consequences. Solitude and loneliness are the monsters that, in silence, can destroy human beings,” Magoa said.

Magoa is a playwright, actor and director. Founder of the theater company teatro4m, over the past dozen years he has produced theater projects in Egypt, Jordan, Tunisia, Morocco, Namibia, Europe and the United States. He was awarded with the Gold Medal in 2017 by the Circulo Intercultural Hispano Árabe for his international theater projects.

He previously visited U of I in 2017 for performances of “Mare Nostrum, Finis Somnia Vesra,” his one-man show about a Syrian refugee who takes to the sea to escape war, persecution and death.

Article by Kelly O'Neill, Department of Theatre Arts
Published April, 2019

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