Issue - January 2007



January 2007
Editorial

Once again, a New Year is starting with plenty of hopes and ideas for 2007 making it even better than the last one.

We have a special commitment with organizations and people that look out for the welfare of other people...read more...

January 2007

Cacho Mendieta

by Daniel Vanello

As a child, Cacho Mendieta's dream was to participate in a radio program. The ability to communicate with the audience was always more than an attraction to him. Furthermore, his mother used to take him to the Teatro Municipal de Potosi –when he lived in the latter city for eight years during the 40's- to watch European theatrical pieces. These motivated him at a later age to become a helper for the decoration of the settings. In fact, his first job in the theatrical scene was as an artist. Then he helped with the props and dresses during the 60's and early 70's. This is how Cacho Mendieta cultivated his theatrical knowledge.

His talent lied in his capability to change voices instantaneously through imitations of famous public characters. This is what convinced the authors of a radio show called "La Revista Dislocada", a comical program, to assume him.

He made the final jump of quality when he autodidactically learned more about the theatre. I got to know how he started to spend his own time on books through an interesting anecdote he told me. When working in the mentioned radio show, he had to imitate three famous former Bolivian presidents. The problem was that he was not good at remembering names and thus did not know who one of them was. The director then told him to go and study some Bolivian history; in this way he came into contact with books and eventually started to use them in gaining theatrical knowledge. In his fifty years of experience as an actor, Cacho Mendieta has performed in plays confronting a plethora of themes: from comedy to drama to historical pieces. But his favourite genre is political satire. This is the theme of his actual radio show entitled "Confidencias".

I had the fortune of appreciating his talent in a play of his own on the 7th of December in the newly renovated Martadero. What he performed was a comical soliloquy where he impersonated a campesino from the Aymara culture. The contrast of a white person in the shoes of a discriminated worker resulted in an effective message: a person who is part of the group with prejudices does not always have a tendency to discriminate, but on the other hand may have the capacity to assimilate with the latter. His perception of how it must have been for the "Other", in Judith Oakley's terms, amalgamated with a bit of comedy did give an impressive vision of how after all we are not as different (not meaning that we are the same).

The strength of his skills became evident once a brutal tempest broke out where as a consequence the comprehension of the monologue became a strenuous work due to the lack of sound. Nevertheless, his excellent mimicry and the little the audience could hear overcame the climatic barrier and produced such an intense atmosphere between the spectators that he more than deserved the infinite applause that concluded his acting.

Many times it is believed that a degree is needed to be successful in what we do. The proof of the contrary lies within the life of this actor who knew nothing of the theoretical side of what he eventually became. He showed how a vehement passion and a self-motivated acquisition of knowledge are sufficient to reach the peak of a career.

My life in Taricaya
Despite having been in Cochabamba for over two weeks now I still find myself completely unaccustomed to the wonderfully peaceful nights sleep (without rude interruption by rat, opossum or cockroach), delicious food and presence of street lights and cars as opposed to fire flies and peccaries!?
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