The Oscar winner and activist arrives in Buenos Aires to present “The New Colossus”, a play that explores the strength and dignity of immigrants, and that can be seen in the FIBA. During an interview with Infobae Cultura, he spoke about the motivations behind each of his projects and the anti-immigrant propaganda of the Trump government, among other issues
“In this film I play a victim of abuse and violence,” shouted Tim Robbins during his Oscar acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actor in 2004 for his role as Dave Boyle in Mystic River , by Clint Eastwood . “And if any of you suffered such a tragedy, there is no shame or weakness in seeking help and therapy, sometimes it is the strongest thing you can do to put a stop to the cycle of violence.”
Almost 15 years later, through a bad telephone connection, Robbins recognizes in dialogue with Infobae Cultura that he always felt the need, the responsibility, to use his platform as an artist and public figure to put into debate certain problems: “I grew up in New York City in the 1960s, in Greenwich Village, my dad was a folk singer, and folk music is about telling the story of the common man, the stories we chose to tell are a reflection of who we are . “
So, perhaps, since he played the man damaged by a trauma during his childhood in Mystic Rio , Robbins did not accept too many leading roles in Hollywood movies. Its popularity had been made global years before thanks to The Shawshank Redemption ( Dreams of freedom was the title with which it was distributed in Argentina and other countries in Latin America), a film in which it gets into the skin of Andy Dufresne, a successful banker who is accused and prosecuted for a crime he did not commit and who hides in his cell a secret behind a simple Rita Hayworth poster.
– Do you think Hollywood is becoming more empathetic?
-Hollywood is a business, and a business seeks to create profits. These gains depend to a large extent on action movies, whose usual formula is based on violence, and I do not think that this is precisely the best way to teach empathy.
-Finally women in the industry have a platform to express themselves. How do you see this change?
-The truth is that it is encouraging. It is a first step. And it is very important that women be able to express themselves because that is how they encourage others to be encouraged to do the same. I hope it is something that happens more and more .
Tim Robbins was born in West Covina, California, in 1958, the son of an actress mother and a musician father. He moved as a boy to New York with his family, and when he was 12 he started to enter the world of theater when he was still a high school student. He spent two years at Plattsburgh State College but returned to California and graduated from the UCLA Film School with a Bachelor of Dramatic Arts in 1981, the same year he founded with actor friends -such as John Cusack- The Actors’ Gang , an experimental theater company, which will premiere its work The New Colossus in Buenos Aires , which will be presented at the Centennial Park Amphitheater on January 23, within the framework of the Buenos Aires International Festival (FIBA).
The New Colossus is an intense production, both physically and emotionally, with live music, poetry and kinetic movement. Eleven actors from around the world tell the stories of their ancestors in a unique narrative that shows them escaping the oppression of their countries of origin to arrive at Ellis Island, the island that for years was the gateway for millions of immigrants who arrived to New York with the hope of finding a better life. It is located near the Statue of Liberty, iconic monument of New York that thanks to the poem by Emma Lazarus The New Colossus -written in 1883 in order to raise funds to build a pedestal for the statue and which was engraved in a bronze plaque in 1903- acquired its status as a symbol of freedom and welcome of the destitute:
“(…) ‘Keep, ancient lands, your legendary pomp!’ she shouts
with silent lips, ‘Give me your tired, your poor,
your crowded crowds longing to breathe in freedom,
The unfortunate waste of your overflowing shore,
Send to these, the helpless ones shaken by the storm, to me’ (…) “
He gets excited when reciting some lines. “It’s a beautiful poem,” Robbins admits about Lazarus’ work, from which he borrowed the title for his production. “It’s extraordinary and a symbol of what our country really is, I started developing The New Colossus about four years ago, I asked the actors to tell the stories of their own families, about the immigration of their ancestors. year 1864 until 2017. The United States – and in South America it is the same – is a country that brought people from all over the world, from Europe, from Asia … We tell the stories of eleven people who come from eleven different places and speak eleven languages The majority of Americans come from elsewhere, with the exception of indigenous peoples.We are the blood of ancestors of other countries. We have to appreciate that courage , that they have survived that journey to find a new life. It requires a huge force, which is what defines and unites immigrants and refugees. “
-The resilience, courage and strength seem to be the threads that unite the stories of immigrants in this work …
– Yes, and I would like to see that immigrants are talked about in this way, and not with the rhetoric that is being used by our leaders. It is manipulation, it is propaganda, and it does not reflect what we are as a country. Create hate And we should be proud of immigration, we should help them. There should be spiritual empathy and generosity.
Tim Robbins never stays silent. He publicly supported Bernie Sanders during the US primaries – like his ex-wife Susan Sarandon -; he opposed the invasion of Iraq in 2003; and even shouted “war criminal!” Henry Kissinger a few years ago when he saw him leave a restaurant in Santa Monica, California, as he confessed during an interview with The New York Times .
-They started writing The New Colossus during the Obama administration, in reaction to the refugee crisis in Syria. However, it seems to be tailored to the Trump Era.
– Yes, unfortunately, and we are talking about our government around the world at this time. It is shameful for us. And the words, the language that Trump and other Republicans use to refer to immigrants does not help. It is incredible the hypocrisy and prejudice of some people. It is our actions, those of the United States, that created certain climates and situations around the planet. We create, with our irresponsible activities, the refugee crisis in Syria , and, with our interference in Central America , the crisis of the Honduran migrants and the Salvadorans … And it is very offensive when they blame the people who are escaping the war, of poverty and famine. It’s amazing what they do with political propaganda. Most people do not want to leave their home. Immigrants are forced to do so to save their lives and those of their families. They escape from war, violence and death.
-Today the world seems to be more focused on what divides us than on what unites us. Do you think division is an illusion?
-I believe there is strength in unity. The unit is possible. It is possible to overcome prejudices, I have seen it. So I think there is hope. With The Actor’s Gang we try to touch on relevant topics. We do not want to distract, we want to tell the truth and stories that inspire, that transmit compassion and understanding, that entertain and that are interesting .
One of the most iconic and representative films of Robbins’ work is Bob Roberts , from 1992, which he himself wrote, directed and starred in. There he plays Robert “Bob” Roberts Jr., a businessman and television figure with a lot of money who decides to run for president of the United States. Conservative, corrupt and well-financed, he tries to appeal to voters with his “family values”. It is a political satire, and it shows how the media influence during the electoral campaigns.
Until a few years ago, Robbins claimed that Bob Roberts did not refer to a particular politician, but to the entire political system in general. But then Trump came, and changed his opinion. When Infobae Culture inquires about this point, he laughs sincerely for the first time in half an hour. ” Yes, Bob Roberts became a reality, and now we have to get him out of there .” He shuts up again, thoughtfully, and says: “Yes … but Trump is the result of years and years of strategy and propaganda, it’s unfortunate, but Bob Roberts is a reality.”
* The New Colossus
Date and place: Wednesday, January 23, 8:30 pm at the Centennial Park Amphitheater
Tickets can be purchased from January 15. Value: $ 280. For more information click here .
Authorship: The Actors’ Gang Ensemble, Tim Robbins / Direction: Tim Robbins / Performers: Pierre Adeli, Onur Alpsen, Quonta Beasley, Kayla Blake, Kathryn Cecelia Carner, Jeanette Rothschild Horn, Dora Kiss, Stephanie Lee, Mary Eileen O’Donnell, Mashka Wolfe, Paulette Zubata / Duration: 9 0 ‘