"Kiwala y el Gran Viaje" is the tale of the little llama that could. Adapted from children’s books written by Chilean authors Ana Maria Pavez and Constanza Recart, the play tells the story of young Kiwala who learns that even though she is the smallest llama in her village, she still has the capacity to make a big difference.
Photo by Iván Núñez
After her Andean town is stricken with a strange sickness, Kiwala, despite being the youngest in the village, undertakes an epic journey from the mountains to the jungle, the sea and back in hopes of finding the mysterious chamán of the jungle for help. Along the way she makes friends with a condor, a puma and a serpent, who each represent distinct and potent powers of the earth, helping Kiwala in her adventure.
Through her quest, Kiwala learns about selflessness, as she realizes that she is the only one who can make the trip even though she is initially reluctant to do so. When she is first approached by the village elders to undertake the journey, she protests that she is too small and attempts to resist before realizing that she has been chosen to go, whether she wants to or not. As she meets the other characters, the tale also touches upon themes of overcoming fears and the value of friendship.
The Triciclopajarito theater company tells Kiwala’s story using various forms of multimedia, including animation, shadows, puppets and black lights. The main characters are puppets controlled by members of the theater company clad in complete black from head to toe with their faces hidden by brightly colored painted masks or black hoods. Minor characters are represented by giant cardboard cutouts or by cloth animals attached to sticks.
The most visually impressive scene involves a sparkling presentation of constellations representing each character. A wise, glowing blue moon watches over them, fading to complete darkness as a floating pair of alligator eyes creeps up on the travelers. Another captivating moment involved fight scenes playing out on a movie screen, blending cartoon images and shadow figures.
The play is sweet, yet not too saccharine. The songs are catchy and cute without grating on one’s nerves. Even the youngest members of the audience sat at rapt attention throughout the 60 minutes. The only noises that could be heard were the little voices in the front responding to the characters’ questions asked directly to audience. Upon exiting, excited shouts could be heard from chiquillos [young children] clutching their parents’ hands, marking their resounding approval of the play.
The story is most suitable for younger children aged four through nine.