Nearly 50 years ago, Salvador Allende, the democratically-elected president of Chile, was deposed and died during a U.S.-backed coup in 1973. What we don’t know is what was experienced in those final hours before it all ended. Washington, DC-based playwright Luigi Laraia gives us a sense of what it might have been like in his new drama, “September 11, 1973: The Day Salvador Allende Died.”
The 55-minute drama (featuring actors Dan Owen and Dr. Richard Tanenbuam) is part of the Capital Fringe Festival (the term coming from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe) where theater is produced outside of main theatrical institutions and are often small-scale non-traditional shows. The show runs five times from July 14 to 24, 2022 in Georgetown, an area of Washington, DC, at the 23rd Amendment, 3270 M Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. For those who might be in the U.S. at this time, tickets are $15 (US) and can be purchased online at https://capitalfringe.org/events/september-11-1973-the-day-salvatore-allende-died/
Allende died in the presidential palace during an insurrection led by General Augusto Pinochet with support from the U.S. government. Laraia says the play, which is a work of fiction and freely based on facts, is about Allende’s feelings and thoughts on that last fateful day in his office.
The story of Allende, despite all its mythical reimagining and reinterpretations, is still relevant today, says Laraia. What is the political and human cost of adhering to and protecting one’s integrity, living by one’s values, and being relentless in the pursuit of one’s aspirations and goals? Is political compromise possible, or even necessary in a democracy?
“In a world where politicians and supporters get caught up in scare rhetoric because people ‘react to fear, not love,’ it is essential that policy makers and the electorate alike focus on scientific knowledge and not follow those that wield fear as a weapon for political wins or economic interests,” Laraia says.
“Allende wanted no part in an armed struggle or a revolution through insurgency. He remained true to his ideals and the constitution until the very end,” Laraia says. “Hearing his last speech about the ‘great avenues through which free people will pass to construct a better society,” one cannot but wonder what he must have thought in the last hours of his life.”
“September 11, 1973: The Day Salvador Allende Died,” is directed by Pablo Andrade, a Venezuelan-born New York-based actor, director, producer, and teaching artist. He is the Artistic Director of Corezon Theater Company, Executive Director of the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors, Founder of La Guía Cultural, and faculty member of HB Studio, NYU Tisch and Moment Work Institute.
About Luigi Laraia
Luigi Laraia is a playwright based in Washington, DC. He has worked as a World Bank Board Member since 2010. He graduated with his MA in Sociology and earned his BA in Development at the London School of Economics. He is a dedicated development practitioner and passionate writer. He has written several plays, among them “Esma,” a play on the “disappeared” during the “dirty war” in Argentina; “Heard,” a discussion of the complex interests of development stakeholders; “Neda Wants to Die,” a play about sexual violence and “Too Close,” a parable about climate change, which won the 2016 Capital Fringe Festival Best Drama Award and was performed off-Broadway at the HB Studio in 2018.