Wandering and Sleeplessness

Wandering and Sleeplessness (Caminatas e insomnios) is a play created by Lucho Ramírez. Born and raised in the town of Yungay, Lucho is one of the founders of experimental Peruvian theatre group, Cuatrotablas. Lucho was twelve when the 1970 earthquake struck Peru. On the night before the disaster, he left his home on Jirón Bolognesi to visit relatives in Lima. His uncle owned a television set, and had invited him to watch the World Cup match between Mexico and USSR. Lucho was excited. Less than two hours after the whistle had blown on the goalless game, Yungay was buried in a landslide. Miraculously, his parents and siblings survived. But overnight, Lucho had lost his friends, his home, and his childhood.

Lucho conceived of Wandering and Sleeplessness a decade after his disaster, when living in Lima in his early twenties. He had started work on another piece, called Drums (Tambores), but the play that would become Wandering and Sleeplessness had taken hold of his consciousness. It wouldn’t let him rest until it was completed. In this work, we gain access to Lucho’s fears — his vivid, hypnagogic nightmares — as they transport him, in the dark, lonely, hours, back to Yungay on that fateful afternoon of the landslide. On his journey, he searches for lost family, meets with ghosts, and encounters Death himself. Their exchanges are punctuated by poetry and music.

Wandering and Sleeplessness was originally staged in 1981 on a tour that visited cities in Europe, and Central and South America. It formed part of the inaugural London International Festival of Theatre at Institute of Contemporary Arts. It also toured venues in Paris, Barcelona, Rome, Copenhagen, Monterrey, and Lima, to excellent critical reviews. To commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of the landslide, with the support of the University of Leeds, Lucho has recreated the play for contemporary audiences with cinematographer Beto Benítez. The play was staged in Lima for intimate audiences in January 2021. A recording of the play will be premiered to coincide with the fifty-first anniversary of the tragedy, which is coming soon.

In the meantime, you can watch a teaser of Wandering and Sleeplessness here.

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