“Un Tiatro”: Intimate Look into Theatre and Down Syndrome

Viewing the "Un Tiatro" photo exhibit is like secretively watching a troop of actors getting ready for a performance. They are children, completely engulfed in the actors’ process, rehearsing, changing and prepping for the show. And they all have Down syndrome.

Un Tiatro
Photo courtesy of Centro Cultural Estación Mapocho

The 34 color photographs by Cristian Demarco are currently on display in the Sala Joaquín Edwards Bello in the historic Centro Cultural Estación Mapocho and online through the artist's Flickr account.

The exhibit’s photos are arranged along the perimeter of a single room. Walking around the room clockwise, a story begins to unfold with the first photos revealing the rehearsals, then the dress rehearsals, costume fitting and ultimately the final show.

Un Tiatro
Photo courtesy of Centro
Cultural Estación Mapocho

There were several stunning photos taken of the actors rehearsing onstage. Demarco captures a moment perfectly as two actors, a man and a woman on stage, rehearse a kiss. The woman's arms wrap around the young man's neck and her feet are being lifted slightly off the ground.

Another memorable photo is of a woman sitting in a what appears to be a classroom made into a dressing room. She appears tired and is half-dressed, wearing a long tutu-like skirt and bra.

Reaching the final pieces, the stunning photos of the actual performance present the actors decked out in bright costumes and makeup. One photo shows a woman onstage, holding her hands as though praying, in front of a completely black background. Her head is bent towards the sky and the expression on her face is one of deep sorrow, as though she is sobbing.

Un Tiatro
Photo courtesy of Centro
Cultural Estación Mapocho

Demarco notes that many people, when they think of children with Down syndrome, have this idea in their head of pain, which in turn becomes a thought of pity. But in his experience, "after a short time these thoughts gave way naturally and the small differences disappeared until [he] was no longer photographing mentally deficient children who do theatre, but rather a real company of actors."

Indeed the exhibit shows this very idea. Looking at the photos one sees children who, of course, have Down syndrome, yet the photos capture an idea that surpasses this initial perception.

As the performers wait patiently in the changing room, connect with each other during rehearsals and perform like true professionals, we see only the actors and their ability to demonstrate emotions with absolute clarity. Paired with the detailed storyline and the vibrancy and color of theatre, the children's condition becomes nothing more than a secondary element within the images.

"Un Tiatro" Photo Exhibit
Centro Cultural Estación Mapocho
Plaza de la Cultura
Metro Puente Cal y Canto
April 30 to May 31, 2009
Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am to 2 pm and 3 to 6:30 pm
Free Admission

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