Staging a Counterrevolution: Vicente Leñero’s Todos somos Marcos (1996) and Roberto Parra’s La Negra Ester (1989)
Mediated by popular demand, cultural productions shape aesthetics, politics, and social transformation. In the early twentieth century, Latin America’s erudite left fluidly navigated geopolitical processes, and intellectuals such as Mariátegui and Flores-Magón promoted, produced, and anticipated alternate modes of sociability. Following the 1970s, the political left was challenged with a neoliberal counterrevolution and seemingly lost the theoretical plasticity of earlier years. As the playing field of politics altered, not few intellectuals were unable or unwilling to adapt to the democratization of culture. This article focuses on Chile’s Roberto Parra’s La Negra Ester (1989) and Mexico’s Vicente Leñero’s Todos somos Marcos (1996). Aimed for mass consumption, these theatrical productions interweave drama and politics to market alternate forms of sociability. Todos somos Marcos frames Mexico’s left in the midst of a neoliberal conversion, while Parra’s La Negra Ester was the most viewed cultural production in Chile’s transition from neoliberal dictatorship to democracy. The article argues that the plays embodied a societal desire to overcome a structure of conflict dominating politics, modified the affective expression of bodies once repressed, and contested paternalistic precepts of intellectual elites.