Born in Melipilla, Chile |
Marilo’s parents, who arrived in Canada in 1974 as political refugees and were living with packed suitcases for many years had every intention of eventually returning to Chile. Then in 1979 her parents moved to a country in Eastern Europe for one year to receive ideological training with plans to return to Chile and help fight the dictatorship that was in power at the time. She explains how the training was to learn how to actively change a society through political/educational action. After completing the training, her parents decided not to return to Chile, and instead they returned to Canada. Currently Marilo is writing a play about this particular time in her family’s history called El Retorno/ I Return. She works as a playwright and director and is the founding artistic director of Alameda Theatre Company. This theatre company produces Canadian productions with a distinct Latin American perspective. Marilo says Toronto is where she has had all of her major life experiences both as a child and as a woman including becoming a mother. She met her husband in Toronto on the corner of King and Yonge. They are both in the arts industry and are both born in another country. Although she still feels connected to Chile, she says:
“This city lives in my bones.”
Toronto as Home
Marilo is standing in Theatre Passé Muraille, one of many of the city’s theatres that she is involved with. She says theatre has been her greatest ally in the journey to try to figure out who and what she is.
“My questions about identity are best explored through the theatre, either as a writer, director or actor.”
Theatre Passé Muraille is of particular significance to her because it is where she produced the Alameda Theatre Company’s first main stage production, The Refugee Hotel by Carmen Aguirre.
Connection with the Past
Marilo loves to cook and is always trying to cook the Chilean recipes that were passed on by her mother. One of her favourite (and time consuming) thing to cook are Chilean empanadas. Her husband actually made a documentary about her making empanadas alone for the first time. The film pays homage to the Chilean empanada, but it is actually a film about how food defines who we are and how it can trigger memories of where we came from. Marilo says making the empanada doesn’t have the same resonance for a young Chilean girl in Chile, as it does for her. For Marilo, it is about connecting herself to the place where she was born. This ceramic sculpture of an elderly woman making empanadas was given to her by Marcelo Puente, a Chilean folk musician, and it reminds her of this significant food.