MAU Mapuche is a theatre company that creates and performs artistic works that present the worldview of the Mapuche people.
MAU Mapuche. Image: Martin Montaner website
The Mapuche of Chile and Argentina is the most numerous indigenous tribe in South America. MAU Mapuche is a theatre company that combines ancient and avant-garde art to present the worldview of Mapuche people and their relationships with other people, nature, women, power, identity and destiny. The company was launched in 2013 to create new work with indigenous Mapuche artists and communities for the Santiago a Mil International Festival in 2015 and 2016.
MAU Mapuche grew from the MAU group, which was created by Samoan choreographer and theatre director Lemi Ponifasio in 1995. Recognising that many people around the world are silenced, Lemi created MAU to bring people to a place of power, justice, love, and care. Lemi named the company after the Samoan word mau, which means a declaration of truth. MAU brings together artists and communities from around the world, breaking down barriers between cultures and artistic genres. It provides a platform for dancers, performers, intellectuals, and community leaders to generate critical reflections. MAU has toured the world extensively and performed at some of the biggest international festivals.
In 2014, during an artist residency in Temuco and Padre de las Casas, Lemi created the dance work I AM Mapuche, which premiered at the Santiago a Mil International Festival in 2015. The performance involved 12 Mapuche artists, scholars, musicians, dancers, and actors. Four of the artists received an artist residency in New Zealand, where they explored the similarities between the cultures, experiences, and achievements of the Mapuche and Māori.
Lemi went on to develop the theatre company MAU Mapuche, by attracting 120 actors, dancers, filmmakers, musicians, and other artists from Mapuche and other Latin American communities. Drawing on the international artistic community, MAU Mapuche's work recognises and strengthens the Mapuche identity, and supports the Mapuche to evolve to their current circumstances.
The following year, MAU Mapuche created the dance work Ceremonia De Memorias, which premiered at the Santiago a Mil International Festival in 2016. This performance highlights the problems of the Mapuche, emphasising the effects of colonisation, dictatorship, exile and discrimination.
MAU Mapuche is supported by Corporación Cultural Aldea del Encuentro and the Consejo Nacional de las Culturas y las Artes, and is run by Fundación Teatro a Mil (Teatro a Mil Foundation).
Published 02 November 2023
"Lemi didn't come just to do a play. He came to build a community of artists."
Launched in 2013
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