Issue - February 2009

February 2009

In this issue: Sara Vinci interviews Guido Ripamonti about Willaldea Project their time in Bolivia, and future plans; Gaia Pacha Foundation's spoke with Rebecca Wearmouth about the Ecoteca Project and the different environmental ideas they have to teach children; How to protect our rights in Bolivia is one of the main concerns for Amnesty International, Victoria Cowell talked to them; and Walter Sanchez tell us more about Cochabamba's more...

February 2009

Willaldea -the art of living together

For twenty years Willaldea was a village near Buenos Aires, a workshop of art and expression. However, in 2004 the projects Italian founders, Guido and Yolanda, moved and the Argentinean village became a travelling theatre company, touring across the whole of the South America.

The tour was in Bolivia for two years, bringing its artistic and cultural influence to the villages of Santa Cruz de la Sierra and Puerto Villarroel, where children and adults were involved in theatre, dances and other creative activities.

Willaldea is now in Colombia, in the city of Barrancabermeja, working with the children of the village and in the municipal prison

Sara Vinci
Projects Abroad volunteer
Milano - Italy

Cocha-banner: What does the name Willaldea mean?

Guido Ripamonti: The name comes from the union of the
Spanish word aldea and the Italian villaggio, both synonyms
for “village”. The first name was the Lucky Star of the Comuna
Baires, the theatre company that started this adventure.

CB:The activities of Willaldea are various: from theatre to dance
performances creative writing to environmental protection; yet
your work is essentially focused on the theatre, as both you and
Yolanda are actors. How would you describe the work of an

GR: When you are acting you communicate your interior, the
deepest part of you, with the exterior world. It is an expression of
emotions, it is something you need to communicate and share
with the others. This concrete act of a man or a woman is not
exhibitionism but instead something more similar to a religious

CB:: In the description of your project you define it as a two-way
process. Through your work in South America you not only give
something to but you also receive something from the people you
meet. What have you found in these places?

GR: There is no typical kind of richness; I can not generalize
South America as whole. I always try to receive what an
individual has, his personal and unique richness. When I lived in
Bolivia I saw the big ethnic gap between the colla and the camba
cultures, which are opposite from one another. The differences
may seem large but every one is the same human being once they
decide to start a walk of “artistic initiation”. If South America is an “undeveloped Country”, and the men living in Europe - or in any other “developed Country” - represent the developed type of human being, then what is the developed society like? What have the rural areas of South America preserved? And what have the citizens of more urban areas lost? I think these are important questions and they are one of the reasons we are here.

CB: You say that living together is an art and a challenge. You also stress the importance of living together, believing it to be a value which has been lost in modern society. What is it that you mean by the term living together?

GR: I come from Milano, a city of 3 million inhabitants: I live together with these 3 million people. I must be conscious of this situation, and act responsibly. Man usually lives in ignorance because he does not know how or with whom he lives. We should accept our living together status, take count of it and carry its consequences. To do this we need a lot of passion and love and these two words are very close to the word art.

CB: During 2005 and 2006, you were in Bolivia. You spent
four months in Santa Cruz de la Sierra and one year in the rural
village of Puerto Villarroel. What do you remember about these

GR: In Santa Cruz we mainly did theatre courses for local children and women; we also participated in the International Theatre Festival. In Santa Cruz we did not receive any aid, but in Puerto Villarroel we had the support of the European Union and of the local Government. Puerto Villarroel is a small rural village of 1200 inhabitants. We worked with environmental initiatives which are still active ( This project was one of our biggest successes, as we achieved a great amount in the time we were there. Unfortunately, we only stayed there for one year. Travelling is one of the aspects of our work that I like less.

CB: Willaldea is a travelling workshop and as such, you have worked in many different South America countries. When do you decide to leave a place and head to the next destination?

GR: We move when the “story” comes to an end. Travelling is a necessary part of Willaldea. However, it is always difficult to leave a place behind. Leaving the village where you have worked, perhaps for years, along with the people who have been your friends for the duration of the experience, is always emotional. Leaving is distressing, both for us and for the local people. You cannot help but think about the consequences of your work, you wonder about how the people and the situations you are leaving behind will develop. You feel that something is breaking off.

CB: However the tour has a destination: to reach the north of Mexico. Do you think reaching this goal will mean the end of the project?

GR: The goal, and generally the form of travel, is a big trap. If you have seen the movie The Legend of the Pianist Over the Ocean you may understand what I mean. In the final monologue, the protagonist explains why he did not decide to leave the boat. He says the reason is “not for what I have seen of the world but for what I have not seen of it”. How can you choose your destination among an infinity of possibilities? How can you choose your woman among an infinity of women? I do everything with Yolanda yet I am sure that somewhere there will be a better woman. But it does not matter! There will always be a better woman. The important thing is what I have built with her, and the relationships that I am still building. “I only need to play the 72 keys of my piano to produce infinity” says the protagonist of the movie “but if I had the possibility to use an
unlimited number of them, I would not be able to play. I am not God”. Sometimes an infinite variety of choices makes us perfectly unable to choose.

CB: You say that travel is just an arrangement and that the experiences are what really matter. What does the end of your tour mean to you?

GR: We come from a society where objectives are what matter. I think the process of reaching the goal is more important then the goal itself. The quality of our life matters more than our purpose. However, we need goals in order to give our lives direction. I use an expression of an important man of theatre, Peter Brook: “Affirm it with all your strength and leave it with all the possible lightness”. We are now in Colombia and we will probably soon move to Mexico to join a Festival. We have to believe in the existence of an end but also be ready to leave this certainty like one leaves the thread of a kite: smiling.

Teaching is Easy…
it’s All About Creating the Right Environment

In an effort to promote environmental education and raise cultural awareness, Gaia Pacha has conducted studies into the effects of climate change in South America and the differencesbetween organic and traditional farming in Potosi. Now the foundation has set up the Ecoteca, an environmental education centre aimed at children, right here in Cochabamba.

read more ...

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