Alejandro Urdapilleta

Alejandro Urdapilleta was born in Montevideo, Uruguay, on March 10, 1954. He was the second son of an Argentine couple, his father was a soldier and his mother was a housewife. His father was exiled in the sister country for participating in the uprising against the first presidency of Juan Domingo Perón. Returning to Argentina, during his adolescence, he settled with his family in Martínez, where he studied at the San Agustín school. However, after seeing a performance at the ABC theater, in his fourth year he left school and decided to take acting classes with Martín Adjemian, his first teacher. A few years later he would continue his training with the renowned Augusto Fernandes.


At the age of 22, when his father Fernando was governor of the province of Jujuy, Urdapilleta went to live in Europe. There he carried out the most diverse tasks as a way of subsistence. “I was assistant butler at the residence of the Italian ambassador in London. The best character I played in my life. You had to wear black shoes and I had those cheap moccasins, with the soles peeling off, so I would go with the tray and sometimes I would flip-flop and a shrimp would escape. “I had a lot of fun,” the actor said in an interview. In any case, his stay in the Old Continent was not a happy one. After a time selling dolls stuffed with rice in the squares of Seville and Madrid, the actor returned to Argentina to live out the last two years of the dictatorship, against which he would later react in some famous texts and monologues.


In Buenos Aires, he began to get involved with underground theater, a movement that resurfaced with greater force after the return of democracy. He came into contact with several actors in that field, such as Batato Barea and Humberto Tortonese. The staging and themes they developed as a group were characterized by transgression and overflow, pushing the limits of traditional theater. Their presentations, both individual and group, usually took place in well-known underground spaces, such as the Parakultural (+ information), located, at that time, on 336 Venezuela Street, in the San Telmo neighborhood. And he also made presentations at the Rojas Cultural Center, located at Av. Corrientes 2038 in the Balvanera neighborhood.


In almost all the interviews he took it upon himself to deny the performance and its effects. “I'm not an actor, I don't want to receive awards, I don't want to be known, I don't want to be seen. I walk invisible on the street, I convince myself that no one knows me. I hate fame, it is a current evil. I am only an actor on stage, below I am a person like any other. And I want to be. It doesn't work out for me, but I want to,” he expressed. However, this idea changed when Parakultural appeared. In this space, the actors Omar Viola and Horacio Gabin initially rented it as a rehearsal room. Various artists met there to rehearse every night, until one day that group decided to open the space to the public, which began a long season of late nights of theater, music (the then under Sumo and Los Violadores played, among other bands. ) and plastic arts. There, Urdapilleta met Batato Barea and Humberto Tortonese, with whom he would form an unforgettable trio. “I wanted to be an actor when Parakultural appeared,” he later admitted.


Among his most remembered works from that time are “The Cake Manufacturers” (written in 1989 and winner of the First Young Art Biennial prize) and “La Carancha, una dama sinlimites”, a piece he made together with Tortonese and Barea, and which parodied the life of María Julia Alsogaray. Also “La Mamaní” and “La Luna”, two works that make up the anthology “Vagones transportan humo” (Adriana Hidalgo, 2008), his first book, which brings together texts written by the actor to be brought to the stage by himself or others. interpreters. In all these texts, Urdapilleta brought out everything that other writers preferred to keep to themselves during the nascent democracy: violence, the perverse, the forbidden, the sexual and many (at that time) politically incorrect topics.


At the end of 1991, after the basement on Venezuela Street was sold, a second group of actors (including Alfredo Casero, Marcelo Mazzarello, Mariana Briski and Carlos Belloso, among others) opened a new Parakultural in a warehouse from 1000 Chacabuco Street, in the Monserrat neighborhood. By then the mythical emblem of the counterculture had already become an institution, and it was even more surprising that Urdapilleta accepted classic and established works that same year such as “Hamlet” or “The War of the Theaters”, under the direction of Ricardo Bartís, at the San Martín theater. Polonio's memorable work earned him the first ACE award and also new consideration from a sector of critics and the public that had been oblivious to his previous works.​

That same year Batato died, but not before reproaching his friend for that work, objecting that this was the type of theater they had never wanted to do and telling him that he was a traitor. “I didn't give a damn about being a traitor. It was what he wanted to do. I did not separate that theater from the other. He didn't say 'this is serious theater, the other isn't,'" Urdapilleta said on that occasion. That same year, he also debuted on television with a sketch alongside Tortonese for the program “El Palacio de La Risa”, by Antonio Gasalla.

Since then, he never abandoned the more “commercial” performance (in the sense that it refers to consecrated or more “classic” fields than that of Parakultural). In 1996 he worked with his teacher Augusto Fernandes, who directed him in the lead role in “The Lightning”, by August Strindberg, a role for which he won the ACE again. Then he did “Martha Stutz”, by Javier Daulte, and “Lunch at Ludwig W's House”, by Thomas Bernhard, directed by Roberto Villanueva, both at the San Martín theater. And in 2000 he played Adolf Hitler in “Mein Kampf” (a farce), by George Tabori, directed by Jorge Lavelli, which earned him the Trinidad Guevara award. However, he did not abandon independent theater either, and along with those works he made “Carne de chancha” in Ave Porco and then “La moribunda” in Morocco, both with his inseparable companion Tortonese.

In addition to theater, Urdapilleta shone on television: he made “Tumberos”, by Adrián Caetano, which earned him a Martín Fierro for best supporting actor for his character in El Seco, and “Sol negro”, by Alejandro Maci, among other fictions. Also in cinema, where he stood out, among other works, in “Adiós querida Luna” (Fernando Spiner, 2003), for which he received the award for best actor at the Mar del Plata Film Festival, and “La Niña Santa” (Lucrecia Martel, 2004).

In addition to being a great actor, Urdapilleta was also a great writer, although he also denied that. After “Vagones transporten humo”, the book “Legion Religion (the 13 prayers)” arrived in 2007, this time edited by Ed. Colihue. It was a small notebook with monologues, poems, stories and drawings by the artist. And the following year, Adriana Hidalgo published it again, this time with “La possessed”, which in addition to the homonymous story included another, “The Pope of Ethiopia”. Both texts ended up giving him a privileged place within Argentine literature. The three volumes were directed by the critic and researcher Jorge Dubatti, who was also his personal friend and who lamented the death of “the greatest Argentine actor of all time.”

He once talked about death, about his own death: he had said that he would like to die “in a big, comfortable bed, without tubes, or IVs, or anything medical.” “With my eyes open, high on powerful morphine, believing that I am in a huge house in the countryside where I lived from 8 to 10, with my entire family around, as if nothing was happening (...). And that the light went out as I fell asleep, like the end of a beautiful movie, and without stopping hearing my mother's voice.” Some time later he said that he had never stopped being a child. “At 60, which is when I'm going to die or they're going to kill me, I'm going to be 11.” Sadly, at that moment Urdapilleta guessed his future: the great actor passed away shortly after turning six decades old, but he was an eternal child who did not stop playing at being a playwright.​