A Dance of Death: Eduardo Pavlovsky’s “Paso de dos”

In Latin America, we learn early that our lives are worth little.
— Laura Yusem, Director, Paso de dos (1990)

It’s late winter in Argentina, 13 months since Carlos Menem assumed the presidency in July of 1989.1 “The Age of Impunity”2 is how many here refer to the present, marked not only by massive corruption but by two extraordinary executive pardons. The first, enacted in October 1989,3 exonerated military officers facing trial for crimes committed during the last dictatorship, in which some 30,000 people were disappeared.4 In April 1990, Menem declared that the ex-commanders of that de facto govern­ment—already sentenced for crimes against humanity, in addition to nu­merous counts of kidnapping, torture, murder, and robbery5—would also be pardoned, and free “in time for Christmas.” In some circles, there’s talk of monuments to these men, to their “heroic war against subversion.”

Owing to a legal arrangement, only high officers of the junta faced trial; lower-ranking, hands-on torturers were never charged.6 The latter are still in the military, the police, in hospitals, in one or another of the secret services that were never dismantled. Survivors have met their torturers on the street, in the subway, in elevators. The “Dirty War” dictatorship may have ended, but for many Argentines, the torture con­tinues.

In Eduardo Pavlovsky’s Paso de dos (Pas de deux) are inscribed all of the charged themes in present-day Argentina—torture, complicity, the contamination and rewriting of history. Highly controversial (and more bitterly so on the left), the show is the reference point for the 1990 season. Even those who haven’t seen it, or who refuse to see it, read and argue about the play. It is running at the Babilonia, an alternative arts center on the last desolate block of Guardia Vieja in Almagro, the neighborhood where Carlos Gardel, the father of the modern tango, once lived. In a year when scores of theatres have closed and starving actors are returning to their native provinces, to the family farms and businesses they once fled, Paso de dos is packing the house for its twice-weekly performances. Tickets must be reserved three weeks in advance, unusual in this city even when times are good. As of this writing the production is scheduled for the Cadiz Festival and a U.S. tour. A European tour is also antici­pated.

Paso de dos is a violent, ambiguous, and deeply troubling work. The author describes it as a “love story” between a torturer and his victim. Originally the play was called Voces, or “Voices.” In the published text that bears this title (1989), there are no proposals for the set, and only a handful of actions are specified. The two characters, HE and SHE, are embodied in their words. Only one angry gesture is described: “SHE rises. Grabs him by the throat.”7 Yet the brutality inscribed in this spare, finely structured, even poetic, text is male-against-female. From the out­set, Pavlovsky envisioned himself in the role of HE, the torturer who falls in love with his victim, who desperately needs his victim to name him, to furnish him with an identity. Unto death, SHE refuses:

I know that way you’d feel better, proud that everyone should know you touched me
you want to be a hero like all the others proud of what you’ve done. [...]
you’re too twisted I won’t name you you’ll have to wait… to wait forever…
that will be your little torment [...]

Still, SHE is a partner in this dance of death. Although her mind resists, her body responds. Her complicity is in the form of extreme, though involuntary, sexual pleasure. In production, this mind/body split is ex­pressed through the use of two actresses—Susana Evans as SHE’s body, Stella Galazzi as SHE’s mind. Only SHE’s body is onstage, where it is “fucked,” “tormented,” and finally “strangled.” Evans has no lines, but her voice expresses pain, terror, fury, and sexual need. Galazzi speaks the character’s thoughts from a seat in the audience.

When we enter the tiny space, Galazzi is already in her place. Her demeanor is solemn, her dress is somewhat prim, her hair and face are wet. Unmoving, she watches as we wait for the usher to seat us, one by one. We are made to sit very close together, in steeply graded bleachers that curve close around three sides of a circular pool of mud. In the middle of the mud is a wooden chair. The lights fade to black. Out of the darkness there is an explosion of gasping and gutturals in a long, pounding orgasmic rush. As the lights come up, we see that SHE is straddling HE’s lap, facing him. They bounce wildly until they finish, at which point HE dumps her in the mud, where she lies, semiconscious, while HE speaks. HE catalogs a host of little actions—”Looking ahead. Now to the side. Now I look at my hand [...]“—performing each one. SHE starts to come round as he says, “All I can say is I’m absolutely responsible for everything, I’m absolutely unrepentant of everything, for my actions are the only place I can find some meaning, a line to follow … I am responsible for every one of my intensities … that is certain … absolutely certain. This is my certainty.”

SHE is plainly near death. At this point she is still wearing her dress and one high heel. HE wears trousers, his jacket lies in the mud. Ad­dressing her for the first time, he now employs the past imperfect; past tenses will predominate as they talk of their relation. “What was the problem,” he wants to know. A little later it comes to him: “You became my NECESSITY. The necessity of our bodies … together. The neces­sity to have you close [-...] always close. Touching you always …”

SHE presses to know if he had had some “conviction,” some “idea,” that invested his actions with meaning.

Paso de Dos

Eduardo Pavlovsky and Susana Evans in Laura Yusem's 1990 production of 'Paso de dos.' (Photo by Carlos Feigues courtesy of La Vaca Producciones)

HE: [...] Not to be with you was to confront the void, the horror was to know that the intensity could end in an instant … it all depended on you. I was afraid that you’d give up, and that every­thing would suddenly end. [...] I loved your strength, it was the only thing that assured continuity. [...]
Even before knowing you, it seemed you belonged to me. Your name belonged to me…

But then HE recalls when on the first day HE asked her name, she told him “Charlemagne”:

HE: and I burst out laughing
you’d wounded my pride
you’d wounded my pride
I didn’t know if we were playing our first game
I didn’t know if we were playing the same game

On his side, the “game” is not just between the two of them: “I felt mysteriously attracted by what they said about you … they talked about me answers you gave, your quick, lucid responses…” HE wants her to be his “trophy,” the sign that he has bested his colleagues.

HE recounts a long story he’d once told her about his childhood. He’d come home beaten up and his father insisted they return to the play­ground so the boy could repay the bully. Terrified, he was unable to fight, unable even to confront the kid who’d punched him. Ever since, die only memory he has had of his father is that parent’s unyielding disappointment in him. That, HE says, is where their story begins. At this, SHE gets to her feet and attempts to rush him, to “grab him by the throat.” Debilitated and stumbling, SHE is no match for him. In as furious a gesture (challenge? defeat? love?) as she can manage, SHE starts to take off her dress. HE rips it off her. SHE initiates more sex:

SHE: Words serve only to make us forget
You remember those long chats where we’d talk to forget what had happened? [...] to transform the horror into words that no longer had any meaning [...].
Am I choking you, am I hurting you, can you breathe? [...]
Yes now we’re together [...].
naked, multilated bodies, yes now We’re together
yes now, yes now.
We can remember together [...]

HE: [...] if anything defines our story
it is the intensity of what we shared [...]
It’s true that at times I was brutally possessive
I wanted to know even your most intimate thoughts [...]
I despaired of that intimate part of you
that place I could never reach

As HE goes on about the torment of his jealousy, of his absolute need of her, SHE whistles in his face.

HE: I’m not asking much, I just want to be named as part of an important moment in your life, because it was important, wasn’t it?
You wouldn’t talk before and now you won’t name me
Who am I then? […]
[…] stop denying me […]
Why? Why? Why won’t you name me?

At once bestial and abject, HE strangles her. Galazzi speaks the woman’s final resistance. HE fishes her dress out of the mud, starts wrap­ping her body, stops to put her shoe inside the “shroud.” The woman’s words keep coming even as her body disappears. HE finds his jacket, puts it on while getting to his feet, stands at attention. As the lights go down we hear, “I’m never going to make you a HERO. [...] I’m not going to name you…”

Laura Yusem’s production is very polished, reflecting her experience with both classics and the avant-garde. The acting is first rate. The contri­butions of Graciela Galan, long considered the best theatre designer in Argentina (and one of the best in Latin America), are elegant in their economy. That only Galazzi’s head (and not her whole body) is wet is a typically restrained detail. There is an intermittent music track, most of which is tango—sensual, romantic, nostalgic, a hint of menace.

I first saw the production a few days after it opened. At the end of the piece, the house erupted in bravos, clapping, and tears. The woman sit­ting next to me left sobbing. A few weeks later, about half the house stood; some people tried to hurry out (difficult in that space); some around me nodded and smirked. On both occasions I left the theatre feeling distressed, unsure of what was happening around me. Were the ovations an expression of gratitude for genuine catharsis? A sign that Paso de dos is a true metaphor for the horror engendered by the last dictator­ship? Watching this play is a punishing experience—were the ovations, then, another instance of the masochism that runs so strongly through Argentine culture?8 And to what extent was the show a succes de scandale? After the first reviews, people had to know what to expect.

My immediate visceral reaction was a kind of shell shock after so much violence. And then revulsion at the aesthetisized brutality and exhibition­ism. Pavlovsky, whose work I have admired, seemed more a puzzle than ever. An internationally renowned psychiatrist, writer, and actor, he has long been active in human rights and leftist politics. Some of his plays were banned during the last dictatorship. In 1978 he escaped a heavily armed, military kidnap operation by jumping out the window of his office, and then fleeing to Spain where he lived until 1980. But there seems to be a psychic divide. Ideologically, he’s a pacifist; as an artist he displays an obsessive need not only to write but to act the role of tortur­ers, and in an increasingly graphic way.9

There is a reciprocal relation between Pavlovsky’s work in psychiatry and the theatre. A seminal concept is La multiplicatión dramaticá,10which he developed, and first wrote up, as part of a therapeutic team. “Dramatic multiplication” is a group technique in which one member of the group describes a personal conflict. This description becomes the “written text.*’ Each member of the group then improvises a scene, taking off from the original “text.” The resulting production, called the “dramatic text,” is the work of various “authors.” Therapeutically, the conflict in the “writ­ten text” gets “taken away,” is “absorbed” in the final group drama.

In a therapeutic setting, the members of the group have already con­sented to “absorb” the conflicts of their fellows. And they do so through their own creative contributions, not passively as spectators. In Paso de dos “dramatic multiplication” is particularly problematic, owing to the invasive violence and graphic sex in the acting. I had the discomfiting sense that Pavlovsky’s relation to the audience is akin to that of HE to SHE—fraught with hostile love, a ravaging need to captivate, seduce, and conquer so as to be “cured.” This is particularly disturbing since many, at least in an Argentine audience, likely have had their lives eviscer­ated by the “Dirty War,” and some may well have been tortured, for real

My discomfort with Paso de dos was the theme of the following inter­views with Yusem (1990), and Evans and Pavlovsky (1990).

La belle dame sans merci…? 

All of the artists involved insist that Paso de dos is a feminist work. Yet upon reading the text one is immediately struck by the amount of imag­ery having to do with a horror of “hollows,” and voids.” HE has an obsessive need to “fill interstices,” to penetrate hidden places.

FEITLOWITZ: How is her death a triumph?

YUSEM: SHE dies without giving him what he wants. She keeps a part of herself intact, beyond his reach.

FEITLOWITZ: Her reserving a part of herself is what finally drives him to kill her. It’s the old story, male rage toward “la belle dame sans merci.”

YUSEM: It’s not an “old story” at all. Are you aware of how big a problem domestic violence is in Argentina? It’s a leading cause of death here among women aged 25—40. I don’t think that the situation ofwomen has improved very much at all. And anyway, to show this violence is not a way of agreeing with it. On the contrary, it’s a denunciation.

FEITLOWITZ: But the violence takes place on a female body. Surely there were other theatrical recourses.

YUSEM: In this respect, Paso de dos is realistic.

FEITLOWITZ: But that in itself is not a denunciation. Particularly since the body lends itself to the violence.

YUSEM: The body is but one part of the story.

FEITLOWITZ: On the level of performance ethics, only SHE is nude. Why not HE as well? Isn’t this an example of protecting the phallus?

YUSEM: No. At the beginning, they’re both dressed. Then SHE starts to undress, and he finishes taking off her clothes. After SHE dies, HE—

FEITLOWITZ: “Disappears” her—

YUSEM: Yes. Then when he puts on his jacket, the suggestion is that of a uniform, and he stands—

FEITLOWITZ: Erect, if you will …

YUSEM: The image is of him as a statue, a hero “cast in bronze,” even as SHE’s saying, “I won’t name you.”

FEITLOWITZ: I have trouble seeing how this work could be considered an homage to the tens of thousands who disappeared under the junta.

YUSEM: It’s precisely because her voice lives on after her death.

FEITLOWITZ: I suppose that locating Stella in the audience is a way of saying that her resistance is collective.

YUSEM: Of course, that it comes from all of us.

FEITLOWITZ: As you know I translate the work of Griselda Gambaro, some of whose plays you’ve also directed. Griselda has a very different approach. In her theatre, torturers tend to appear as ridiculous characters. Without neutralizing the danger they present, she nonetheless depicts them ironically, with a good deal of buffoonery. It’s a way of saying that since these characters don’t deserve to be among us in “real life,” in the theatre they don’t merit our respectful gaze. In Paso de dos I felt that the setup effectively made us complicit with HE. There we are, in a dark, constricted space, passively watching and listening as yet another torturer tells us his story. Passively watching highly eroticized murder.

YUSEM: Well I don’t see it that way. What do you mean, “another torturer … ?”

Paso de Dos 2

Eduardo Pavlovsky and Susana Evans. (Photo by Carlos Feigues courtesy of La Vaca Producciones)

FEITLOWITZ: A couple of days before seeing the play, I saw the video El juicio11 made from footage of the 1985 trials of the ex-commanders of the “Dirty War” junta. I was struck by Emilio Eduardo Massera [ex-commander of the Navy] saying, “I feel responsible, but not guilty [...]. My accusers may have the chronicle, but history belongs to me.”

YUSEM: Precisely, art belongs to the chronicle. We are very conscious of history here. Our generation in particular learned early that history is contaminated, it’s constantly being rewritten by those in power.

I FEITLOWITZ: Yes, and in Paso de dos we have yet another man who tortures, who kills when he needs/wants to, and lives to give his account. History is full of these guys. History, as you were just saying, has been run by these guys.

YUSEM: Of course the chronicle is also part of history—

FEITLOWITZ: And in this “chronicle,” her death is a foregone conclu­sion. That death is extremely important, particularly in the context of what happened during the dictatorship. To me, the death seems real; her “triumph” seems a literary conceit.

YUSEM: A play is a literary conceit.

FEITLOWITZ: But theatre happens in context. We know from what is going on right now in Argentina that HE would be able to walk out into the street and basically continue with his life.

YUSEM: We don’t in any way support impunity.

FEITLOWITZ: I know you don’t, and wasn’t suggesting otherwise. But this vision of the torturer finally seems rather romantic.

YUSEM: Well there have been cases of former torturers going in for psychological treatment.

FEITLOWITZ: I’ve tried to find out about that, but none of the psychia­trists or psychologists I’ve consulted have been willing to talk very spe­cifically. I have the impression that such cases have been extremely few. The portrait in the play goes against what I’ve read about torturers, for whom the victim (or prospective victim) is Other, an object.

YUSEM: There were cases of relationships developing between repres­sors and victims. There’s no point denying it.

FEITLOWITZ: I’m sure you’re right, but the theme of complicity is a loaded one here. There were worse complicities during the dictatorship. All those who preferred, or feigned, ignorance; all those who assumed that the victims had been “involved in something …”

YUSEM: Art exists to explore “loaded” themes.

FEITLOWITZ: I agree with you. My reservation in this case is that SHE is made out to be responsible for his actions. This, in what’s being called the “Age of Impunity.” At one point SHE even says, “I don’t know if we’re so different, you and I.” An awful big difference, it seems to me, is that only HE is driven to kill; only her death is inscribed in this work.

YUSEM: Yes. But what you keep missing is that her voice lives on.

FEITLOWITZ: OK. Let’s talk about the evolution of the production. I saw a relatively early rehearsal in December 1989. At that point the title was still Voces and you had both women onstage, bound together by a long piece of rose-colored satin. A very beautiful piece of cloth, as I recall, very sensuous. Stella mostly was against the wall, in a far corner, her movements subtle, constricted, yet expressive of mental anguish. The acting of Susy and Pavlovsky then was basically as it is now.

YUSEM: Yes. That particular piece of cloth was just in the studio, I hadn’t thought of using it in production. It was too bright, for one thing. When I was still considering using cloth, I had a neutral shade in mind— gray, beige, khaki … I don’t recall exactly when and how those changes came about. If memory serves, they happened close together and initially came about because of certain technical problems. First we had just Susy and Pavlovsky. But it wasn’t working; with all the action, Susy couldn’t say her lines. And with the two of them going back and forth, it began to seem banal, like a domestic fight. So we tried it with Pavlovsky saying all the lines, which also didn’t work. Having two actresses was a key change. It seems so obvious now, but it came to me like a bolt from the blue.

FEITLOWITZ: It’s a long way from satin to mud. What happened there?

YUSEM: As you know, I’m not a director who maps out everything beforehand. We play a lot in rehearsal. Particularly when I work with Pavlovsky, we rehearse over many months, at first just an hour or two a week. The pool idea happened one day working here at home. Suddenly it was important to have water so we started doing some work in the bathtub. I’d begun to want a horizontal image onstage. The performance area is so narrow that the verticals were becoming too strong. Graciela Galan suggested mud. It’s an unstable, constantly shifting environment. Hard to maintain footing. And of course extremely suggestive.

FEITLOWITZ: The title, Paso de dos, it seems to me, emphasizes the woman’s complicity.


FEITLOWITZ: The change was your suggestion, wasn’t it?

YUSEM: Yes. There was a legal problem with the original title, and we needed something else. But also, from the outset the work has been very physical. Voces began to seem removed. Pavlovsky-the-actor works through his body, his process is corporeal and extremely intense.

FEITLOWITZ: He told me he works by investigating his physical inten­sities.

YUSEM: That’s right. I do no psychological work with him; Pavlovsky-the-author has done all of that.

FEITLOWITZ: And with Susy?

YUSEM: Like me, Susy comes to the theatre from a background in dance. Our work was wholly technical; she may appear to be suffering, but she is not. The movements are carefully choreographed so that no one gets hurt.

FEITLOWITZ: I was sitting close, and at one point could see that HE was pulling on her breast—surely that hurts.

YUSEM: I assure you, Susy does not suffer. In fact, it’s the opposite. For her it’s more of a caress.

FEITLOWITZ: In terms of the theatre experience, it isn’t just a pas de deux, but a pas de cinquante … or as many people as fit in the space.

YUSEM: Correct.

“For me, it’s a love story…”

PAVLOVSKY: The theme of the couple, the violence of the couple is very important. What you see onstage is an extreme image, but this violence exists, I would say, in every couple.

FEITLOWITZ: I disagree.

PAVLOVSKY: Do you? One night after a performance, a young man was waiting for me. With him was a young woman. “That’s our life up there,” he said. For him, for them, it was about raging possession and jealousy. They saw the work totally in terms of their domestic lives.

EVANS: For me too the theme of the battered woman is very strong. It’s important to show how horrible a place that is.

PAVLOVSKY: Yes. But not only that. The violence onstage can come to signify other violences that are not so evident—people dying of starva­tion, the drastic shortage of medicines …

FEITLOWITZ: But you’re using a woman’s body, the image of a woman’s tortured body, to stand for all that.

PAVLOVSKY: There are certain feminists who will automatically con­sider my plays macho. But from within the world of that play, at the last moment I redeem her ethic, her fight which takes the form of silence. That silence is her singular trait.

FEITLOWITZ: Let’s talk about the extreme brutality of the action.

EVANS: We were concerned about that—

PAVLOVSKY: We thought it would be too strong for the people who go to the theatre in Argentina. And some have said that what is going on is so powerful, so violent—or attractive—that they can’t watch and listen at the same time.

FEITLOWITZ: Susy, this is an extremely taxing role for you. And you’ve garnered praise from most every corner.

EVANS: As soon as we doubled the character, it all became very easy. I rely on the techniques I learned from many years of studying dance— relaxation, how to fall, how to get up. For me it’s a game, and there’s a great deal of pleasure in it. Although there are moments when I really enter into this character and her suffering. There is anguish, and I cry a lot. But this too is pleasure. For one thing, I know that what I’m doing has a great impact on the spectator. I can feel that the audience has protec­tive impulses toward me.

PAVLOVSKY: What for us is a game converts into a torture for the audience.

EVANS: I play at forgetting what will happen. So that on one level the movements will surprise me. That way, I react differently each time. Sometimes it’s erotic, sometimes it’s torture. One of the things we’re improvising is what HE produces in me. What I never forget is that I’m going to die, that these are the last moments I have with him. And I don’t want to die, I want to keep being with him.

FEITLOWITZ: Eduardo, in an interview you said you had an image of this couple “falling in love during torture” and “fucking like dogs … fucking like dogs in this love story …”

PAVLOVSKY: I said that? Where?

FEITLOWITZ: In Página 12, 29 April.12


FEITLOWITZ: Was this the image you began writing with?

PAVLOVSKY: The dogs? No, that came later.

FEITLOWITZ: When did it surface?

PAVLOVSKY: In the action, in rehearsals.

FEITLOWITZ: It’s grotesque, isn’t it?

PAVLOVSKY: Yes. There’s a sort of “demonic pact” between what I wrote and what Laura brought out. And another thing to consider, the crew on this work is mostly women—the director, designer, lights, cos­tumes, and two actresses; my role is as an actor in this group. I just wrote the text.

FEITLOWITZ: That seems a little ingenuous.

PAVLOVSKY: In the preface to Potestad I joke that Pavlovsky is the best actor for my plays, he understands everything I write. But that’s not for sure. In my search as an actor, I need a director—like Laura, who is incredible—who will help me understand Pavlovsky. I, as an actor alone, can’t do it.

FEITLOWITZ: What are the differences between Pavlovsky-the-writer and Pavlovsky-the-actor?

PAVLOVSKY: Acting, not writing, is my passion. What excites me about the theatre is the way a text can be transformed.

FEITLOWITZ: Is your writing process also rooted in the body?

PAVLOVSKY: I don’t think so. My actor’s body is much stronger than my writer’s body. Writing is not action.

FEITLOWITZ: In a conversation we had following a rehearsal, you said, “The mind has ways to forget, but the flesh remembers.”

PAVLOVSKY: Yes, exactly.

FEITLOWITZ: Paso de dos has evoked ire across the political spectrum.

PAVLOVSKY: I always have trouble with the left because I have no interest in leftist aesthetics, that is to say, social realism, art-with-a-message. And as you know, I am a Marxist. In my art, I am not interested in clarity, but ambiguity. I want the spectator to feel a certain confusion, for him to be unsure of what he’s seeing. Identifying with a character is the first step to complicity. And with the characters / write …

In my political articles—and I’ve written scores of them—yes, I take a line and argue it. But this is theatre. I can’t make theatre using ideology as a creative point of departure.

FEITLOWITZ: In your art, then, you permit yourself everything.

PAVLOVSKY: Everything. My theatre is disturbing because of the events, not the politics. Those events transcend politics.

FEITLOWITZ: You can’t deny that there’s a political reading. Politics in the widest sense—the life of the collective.

PAVLOVSKY: The crux there is the amorous coexistence between a militant and a torturer.

FEITLOWITZ: Argentina’s erotic fascination with repression.

PAVLOVSKY: Yes. But again, that’s just one reading. And in talking about Argentina, we have to recognize that what happened here didn’t come about for just local reasons. International economic and political considerations weighed heavily. There was complicity—a word you used earlier—on a very large scale.

FEITLOWITZ: Absolutely. But what about the objections raised by some in the human rights community, survivors and relatives of desaparecidos [the disappeared]? Certain Mothers of the Plaza?

PAVLOVSKY: I think that some in that community have misunder­stood.

EVANS: Work like this keeps the theme present. There’s the danger of people wanting to forget about what happened. There’s a sector of the public saying, “Again with torture. Enough already. Let’s talk about something else.”

PAVLOVSKY: There are very few of us in the Argentine theatre writing about this theme. Gambaro is one, and she’s important. But I’m hard pressed to come up with another name. The theme must be dealt with in its complexity.

FEITLOWITZ: It’s perturbing, this fascination you have for tyrants, this apparent need to act their roles, in increasingly extreme ways. Where does it come from?

PAVLOVSKY: I don’t know. Read La multiplication dramdtica. I’m not trying to dodge your question, honestly. But it’s clearly explained in that essay. I do have a fascination with tyrants, torturers. But the acting out is a form of catharsis. Of what I could have been, but didn’t want to be.

[1] Menem’s inauguration was to have taken place several months later, but his prede­cessor, Dr. Raul Alfonsin, stepped down early in the midst of hyperinflation, massive capital flight, the austral on the verge of collapse, and general economic chaos. Alfonsin’s was the first elected civilian government after the military dic­tatorship that ruled from 1976 until 1983. Alfonsin will go down in history for having appointed the Argentine National Commission on the Disappeared (CONADEP). The testimonies gathered by this commission (see the indispensable Nunca Mas [1986]) were invaluable in the trial and eventual convictions of the ex-commanders.

[2] “The Age of Impunity” and “Politics of Amnesia” are charges leveled by the opposition press, human rights organizations, and many private individuals.

[3] This pardon is unconstitutional. The Argentine constitution stipulates that presi­dential pardons may only be granted to persons who have already been tried.

[4] Thirty thousand disappeared, the figure given by the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, has the greatest currency in Argentina.

[5] General Rafael Videla, ex-commandant of the army and the first president of the junta, and Admiral E. Eduardo Massera, ex-commandant of the navy, got life sentences. The other commanders got sentences ranging from four-and-a-half to seventeen years.

[6] In an extremely controversial gesture, Alfonsin invoked La Ley de la Obediencia Debida (the due obedience law), according to which lower-ranking personnel who tortured were merely “following orders.” Alfonsin’s rationale was to establish “degrees of responsibility,” and prosecute only those “most responsible.” Alfonsin did not want to have trials going on for years and years. Human rights organiza­tions have strenuously objected to the law.

[7] All translations of excerpts here are mine.

[8] For other views on theatre and writing under the dictatorship see my “Crisis, Terror and Disappearance: The Theatre of Griselda Gambaro (1990a) and “Argen­tine Writers” (1990b), interviews with Griselda Garnbaro and Angelica Goro-discher, along with translations from their works.

[9] Pavlovsky’s plays are widely performed not only in Latin America, but in England (including on the BBC), Western Europe, and Scandinavia.

His plays are published in Buenos Aires by Ediciones Busqueda. They include Potestad, Pablo, El Señor Galindez, El Seiior Laforgue, Camara Lenta, and Telarahas. Potestad, Pablo, and Camara Lenta have been performed in the U.S., in translations by Paul Verdier. As an actor he has worked steadily in theatre, film, and television since 1969.

Pavlovsky also publishes regularly on psychiatry, particularly on matters relating to group therapy and the dynamics of the creative process. In Buenos Aires, Edici­ones Busqueda publishes these works.

[10] Pavlovsky and his colleagues have continued to elaborate on this technique and its relations to creativity. See Kesselman et al. (1987) for a particularly interesting essay on la multiplicacion dramatica.

[11] El juicio (The Trial) is a 40-minute video made under the joint auspices of various human rights organizations, including the founding line of the Mothers of the Plaza. It is shown often, always gratis, and always followed by panel discussions featuring prominent writers, legal experts, political, cultural, and human rights figures.

[12] Página 12 is a major left-leaning daily newspaper published in Buenos Aires. The quote is taken from an interview with Adriana Bruno (1990). In the original: “[...] podia haber escrito otra cosa, podia haber hecho que no se goce; sin em­bargo, como perros yo imagino que gozaban los dos en esta historia de amor! No la conozco, nadie me conto nada parecido, simplemente me vino esta historia asi, con intensidad.” Translation: “I could have written something else, that they didn’t get off on it; still, like dogs I imagined them fucking in this love story! I don’t know of such an instance, no one told me anything similar, the story just came to me this way, an intensity.”

There is a discrepancy in the two accounts: In Página 12, Pavlovsky says the dog image came to him at the beginning. Talking with me, he said it came later, in action in rehearsal.