«Tijuana» allows the audience to accompany a documentary experiment in the Mexican city of the same name on the US border. This evening of theatre provides the platform to discover more about the working and living conditions and the weaknesses of Mexican democracy. 

Santiago Ramirez lived in Tijuana, worked in a factory, earned less than four francs a day and spent most evenings with his fellow workers in a bar. These precarious conditions are the basic realities of daily life for the many Mexicans who live on the edge of society. They might earn the official minimum wage but it is not enough to live on.

The actor, director and author Gabino Rodriguez wanted to know what it is like to live on the breadline. On stage, he tells his story and embodies Santiago Ramirez, who spent five months surviving in a slum district. Inspired by the methods of the investigative journalist Günter Wallraff and without waving a moral finger, Gabino delivers a performance that goes well beyond the boundaries of theatre. «Tijuana» is the prelude to a large-scale political and social panorama by Lagartijas tiradas al sol entitled «Democracy in Mexico (1965–2015)».






In “Tijuana”, you give an account of the time you spent undercover as a worker in the eponymous Mexican city. What’s the story behind this rather unusual and rigid undercover approach?

“Tijuana” is part of a larger project called “Democracy in Mexico (1965 – 2015)” that consists of thirty-two pieces, one for each state of Mexico. Tijuana is very close to the US border. Thus, economically it is thus much more related to the USA than to Mexico. Still though, the workers get paid the Mexican minimum wage of 3,50 Euros a day. It’s already very low, but here in Tijuana with its ties to the USA, it’s even more absurd. In general, though, the piece is a lot about how art engages with social problems. Because we are quite critical of many of those ways.


What’s the problem with political art?

If I would follow a journalistic approach, the piece would be about revealing the truth. But this is theatre, and theatre is not about revealing some sort of truth. Isn’t it really problematic to pretend to be someone you are not and interact with real people only to make up an artistic project? What’s more problematic: that he cheated on his poor co-workers at the factory or that he cheats to an audience in a space that essentially is all about cheating for centuries? Because the agreement in theatre always was: things here are not what they are. In a theatre, a guy can jump on the stage and say: “Hi, I’m Hamlet!” And everyone knows that this guy is not Hamlet. But in recent theatre history, we are getting used to a guy jumping on stage and says: “Hi, my name is Gene” or something, and everybody believes that his name is Gene and that he really is that guy.


Whom are you actually embodying in “Tijuana”, then?

Essentially, the piece itself is about an actor named Gabino Rodríguez who constructs a character whose name is Santiago Ramírez and performs as worker in a factory for six months. But in the end, you can never live another life and fully take other people’s perspective. You can be in a different condition, but it will always feel like an “extended holiday” – you know it is going to end, you know you can end it every time you want and go back to earn proper money, work at the theatre and travel. Poverty at its core can be defined as a lack of a horizon for change. And this is something we can’t even imagine. But in theatre, actors take the right to represent others. Only, who gave us the authority to do this?




Konzept, Spiel Gabino Rodríguez | Basierend auf Ideen und Texten von Günter Wallra , Andrés Solano, Martin Caparrós, Arnoldo Galvez Suarez | Ko-Regie Luisa Pardo | Lichtdesign Sergio López Vigueras | Szenografie Pedro Pizarro | Sounddesign Juan Leduc | Video Chantal Peñalosa, Carlos Gamboa | Künstlerische Zusammenarbeit Francisco Barreiro.


Das Gastspiel wird unterstützt durch den SüdKulturFonds und Swisslos Lotteriefonds des Kantons Solothurn.