Grant Recipients Grants to Artists Performance Art/Theater 1999

Martín Acosta

Martin Acosta sits cross legged on a black chair in a dimly lit space. Behind him, there is a staircase and another chair. He smiles warmly and wears converse sneakers, grey pants, a plaid shirt, and a grey blazer. He has short brown hair.
  • 1999 Grants to Artists
  • Performance Art/Theater
  • Director, Playwright
  • Born Cortazar, Guanajuato, Mexico, 1964
  • Lives in Mexico City, Mexico

Artist Statement

Mi trabajo es la obligación de revelar la verdad en la forma más mentirosa posible.

La mentira en su expresión más simple.

La revelación, en primer lugar, de las tres mentiras "aristotélicas" básicas:

1. ese limitado espacio que ven es todo el espacio que hay para contar esta historia y es imposible cambiarlo por otro;

2. el tiempo que tenemos es limitado y generalmente corto como para contar algo trascendente del acontecer humano;

3. lo que podrán hacer los actores aquí es sólo aquello que las fuerzas de cualquier ser humano le permitan y no hay superhombres ni superhéroes. Cuando haya quedado claro esta forma precaria del teatro la mentira debería aparecer en su forma más luminosa, el actor conduce el viaje: cuando lo miramos a los ojos vemos su casa, su perro, su mar y su gaviota; y cuando dice "ayer" es un pequeño salto y cuando dice "hace mil años" es uno muy grande; y cuando señala algo con su dedo es un gesto que se habrá de reconocer de algún sueño.

I see my work as the obligation to reveal the truth in the most untruthful way possible.

Lying as its simplest form of expression.

To reveal, in the first place, the three basic Aristotelian lies:

1. The limited space you see is all the space there is to tell the story and it is impossible to replace it for another;

2. The time we have is limited and generally speaking too short to allow us to say anything transcendent about the human experience;

3. Actors will be able to do here only that which the strength of any human being allows him to do, and there are no supermen or superheroes. When this precarious form of theatre has become clear the lie should appear in its most luminous form, the actor will be in charge of the journey: when we look into his eyes we see his house, his dog, his sea, and his seagull; and when he says "yesterday" it's a tiny leap, and when he says "a thousand years ago" it's a huge one; and when he points at something with his finger it is a gesture we will recognize from some dream.

- 2000


Martín Acosta is a director and playwright. Since 1989, he has staged numerous productions as the Artistic Director of Teatro de Arena, including La secreta obscenidad de cada día (1992), Exhivision (1993), and Las historias que se cuentan los hermanos siameses (1998).

Acosta has produced theatrical works that have been performed throughout the Americas, Spain, and Portugal. His adaptation of James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, supported by his 1999 FCPA Grant, toured the United States for three months prior to performances at LaMama E.T.C. Acosta also directed productions of John Jesurun's bilingual Faust/How I Rose (1998), presented at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 2004, and FCPA-supported Philoktetes (1994), produced in Mexico City in 2000.

After receiving his Grants to Artists award, Acosta directed a binational cast and creative team for the multimedia work Timboctou (2012), presented by the CalArts Center for New Performance in collaboration with its bilingual theater initiative Duende CalArts, and The University of Guadalajara Foundation/Cultura UDG. Timboctou was presented in Los Angeles at REDCAT and performed at Teatro Experimental in Guadalajara, Mexico.

Acosta has been an artist in residence at the L1 Ensemble Sauvage Public in Montreal, Cornerstone Theater in Los Angeles, and Art Awareness in Lexington, New York. He graduated from the National School of Theatrical Art, National Institute of Fine Arts in Mexico.

Three performers wearing all white stand in an orange hued bare cube. Two performers sit on dark wooden crates with their bodies angled towards the left wall and their heads turned  towards the back wall. A third performer stands between them and bends over to face the performer on the right.
FCPA-supported production of James Joyce's Carta al Artista Adolescente, directed by Acosta, 2000. Photo by José Jorge Carreón.
Two performers stand within an orange hued rectangular space which is turned upside down and diagonal. The space is bare except for a simple dark chair and some blurred colorful rectangles. Two performers appear to be engaged in a conversation. One performer wears black pants, a white shirt and black suspenders and crouches on the floor. The other performer wears a striped bathrobe and stands over the crouching performer. Beyond the orange cube, there is nothing but empty dark space. This image has a white border and a caption on the lower left of the boarder reads:
FCPA-supported production of James Joyce's Carta al Artista Adolescente, directed by Acosta, 2000. Photo by José Jorge Carreón.
A performer stands in a dark space. They wear an unbuttoned shirt colored with splotches of red and purple and a long pendant. They hold a circular mirror out to the side which reflects the image of two people sitting at a small wooden table. This performer looks intently ahead in the direction the mirror is angled towards.
FCPA-supported production of 1993 grantee John Jesurun's Filoctetes, directed by Acosta, 2000.
A performer stands in a bare dark space. They wear a shirt colored in red and purple which is unbuttoned to their stomach, a long pendant, satin black pants, and black socks. Staring intently ahead of them, the performer balances on a small black object on the ground while stabilizing themselves by holding onto a thin wooden stick projecting from the object.
FCPA-supported production of 1993 grantee John Jesurun's Filoctetes, directed by Acosta, 2000.
Two performers are in a dark space. The performer on the left wears a marbled dark robe and sits in a chair, with their head in their hand and looking ahead of them at something beyond the frame to the left side. The second performer stands in shadows. They wear a red and purple shirt, a pendant, satin pants and have bare feet. With their left arm, they hold a ciurcular mirror towards the other performer and smile.
FCPA-supported production of 1993 grantee John Jesurun's Filoctetes, directed by Acosta, 2000.