Actor’s Life: Christian Baumgartner
By Victoria Roberts
When preparing for Diamante Negro, his latest play as actor and director at Microteatro San Miguel, the production schedule was too tight for Christian Baumgartner to see his secondhand clothes dealer at the Tuesday market, so he made an appointment to see her on a Saturday. Sorting through piles of clothing in the trunk of her car, he found two beautiful winter coats, perfect for the two characters in the play. “But the play is set in Mexico City,” I said. “Yes,” he replied, “ but in the middle of a freak cold front.” It now snows in the play, and we get to wear our fab plushy coats!
Until Fri, Aug 15
Microteatro San Miguel
Christian is what the French term une bete de scene. The theater is not something he does—it is his home. He handles every aspect of the theater—acting, staging, lighting, and sound, design—with artistry, precision, and originality. A San Miguel resident and a native of Venezuela, he celebrates his 30th year as a full-time working actor this year. “I want to do a show at the Ángela Peralta,” he says, “to celebrate!” with the joy and gratitude of someone who has been able to follow his heart. He will fill the house.
As a member of “La Chinga,” the company of activist and director Jesusa Rodríguez that performs political street theater, sometimes in “difficult” terrain, Christian is called upon to climb a tree or “fly” from one level of ground to another. He trained and performed with the local company Gravityworks for seven years and now teaches air acrobatics from his home. For the braver women of San Miguel, this is the go-to workout. Christian recently directed and performed in Miranda, the hit play of Microteatro San Miguel’s first season.
This new production features an elegant and transporting set, the hallmark of Baumgartner productions. The owners of Microteatro were so happy with the play when it opened that they requested the play be translated. English speakers can now see it under the title Black Diamond.
In Diamante Negro, Christian plays two Mexican movie stars: a father who was a star in the “Golden Age” of Mexican cinema and the son, who now stars in films about drug cartels. The play is close to his heart as it explores the issue of gay rights from the 1950s to the present day. Though the LGTB movement has made strides—gay marriage is legal for many—in seventy-four countries homosexuality is a criminal offense, and in thirteen of those countries it is punishable by death.
Christian also performs in ¿Donde Están los Actores? an acrobatics show for children in which he emerges from a wooden barrel. It features a jolly gentleman in a striped outfit who is never daunted, somewhat like Christian himself. Bravo!