“My name is… and I can say it because I know who I am.” With these words, the artists of Teatro x Identitad (Theater for Identity, or TXI for short) have opened all of their performances over the last 17 years.
In July 2017, TXI inaugurated a new season. The theater, which was launched in 2000, is an artistic initiative of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo association and aims to support its efforts since 1977 “to locate and return to their legitimate families all the children disappeared during the last dictatorship in Argentina“.
TXI's performances have evolved and diversified to address different themes, but all revolve around identity. The goal is to “act so not to forget, to act to find the truth”. It has been estimated that in Argentina there are still about 400 people living with changed identities. They are the children of young militants who disappeared or were kidnapped and tortured during the 1970s by the dictatorship's forces. They were then adopted by families loyal to the government and their origins kept a secret.
In a recent article from the Página 12 newspaper, TXI member Eugenia Levin said:
Entendemos que la aparición tiene que ser ya, porque las abuelas se van sin conocer a sus nietos, muchos de los cuales ahora tienen hijos, así que hay bisnietos. Ya hay dos generaciones que no conocen su identidad, no queremos que sean tres.
We understand that these children need to appear as soon as possible, because their grandmothers are passing away without knowing their grandchildren, many of whom now have children, so there are great-grandchildren. There are already two generations that do not know their identity, we do not want to witness a third.
The following official video from 2015 was made for the 15th anniversary of TXI, a celebration that gathered several personalities of Argentina's national cinema and television and which was promoted with the “Encontrate hoy” (“Find yourself today”) slogan and the hashtag #notepierdaselabrazo (#DoNotMissTheHug), as a reference to the embraces that have taken place between grandmothers and grandchildren when they have recovered their identity and found each other.
TXI also has developed a traveling theater project, which brings performances to all corners of the country, in schools, universities, theaters, official and non-governmental organizations, squares, cultural centers and other entities where they are invited. Their purpose is to be a pedagogical tool, for reflection and debate, to help the public understand the historical reality and encourage other possible lost grandchildren to ask questions, express their doubts and seek their true identity.
The performances in educational institutions have been especially important for the members of the movement, as they know that this is where they can generate greater impact:
En los últimos años, los ITINERANTES han tenido una fuerte presencia en las escuelas de nivel medio y del segundo nivel de colegios primarios de todo el país. Muchas instituciones educativas han elegido enseñar una parte tan dura de la historia argentina a través del arte, entendiendo al teatro como una herramienta pedagógica esencial y efectiva. Esta creciente intervención en los colegios se relaciona con el hecho de que TXI, luego de realizar las obras, ofrece un debate donde alumnos y docentes pueden expresar todas las inquietudes y sensaciones que les dejó la puesta en escena.
In recent years, the traveling performances have had a strong presence in middle schools and the second level of primary schools across the country. Many educational institutions have chosen to teach about such a difficult part in the history of Argentina through art, understanding that theater is an essential and effective pedagogical tool. This growing involvement in schools is related to the fact that TXI, after the performances, offers the opportunity for discussion, when students and teachers can express all their concerns and feelings triggered by the performances.