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After ‘De La Guarda,’ le Déluge

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Photograph by Rachel Papo

‘The idea at the beginning was just a girl walking through this place over your head, a little puddle following her,” says Diqui James, the Argentine co-creator of De La Guarda and the man behind its sequel, Fuerzabruta (“Brute Force”), which opens this week. Sitting beside technical director Alejandro Garcia in the Daryl Roth Theatre, James muses on that image. “It’s not a metaphor,” he says in halting English. “It’s just a physical desire for something to happen.” And lots of things do happen in Fuerzabruta—even more than in De La Guarda, that plotless whirligig of acrobats soaring over theatergoers’ heads (and occasionally swooping them into the air). For this show, the machinery takes center stage— a treadmill running up to twenty miles an hour, smashable walls, and a giant Mylar pool, which in the grand finale descends to within arm’s length of a standing (and presumably mesmerized) audience. The Mylar, though only a quarter-millimeter thick, is astonishingly strong— as the troupe found in early, unscientific testing (before the engineers took over). “We put two guys up there, then three, and then there are five of us jumping,” James says. Material is replaced as needed from an Argentine factory—which came in handy during the world tour, when the pool emerged from a Colombia-to-London ship damaged beyond repair (but not, James insists, because of a Bogotá drug raid, as reported). Less successful was the use of real drywall, which some performers smashed through early in the show, raining debris on the audience. After about 100 performances, they were forced to substitute cardboard. “The problem was the audience,” says James. “They got hurt— a little bit.”


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