"The verse will remain alive as long as man continues to search for the mystery. It enjoys poetic art, of its own authority. It is a means to express the individual and collective subconscious, a place in which to dream, discover and touch the most hidden thing ". This is how he refers Vicente Fuentes, the great sage of verse in Spain, professor of Royal High School of Dramatic Art and advisor to the National Classical Theater Company, when he talks about the metric of the Golden Age and its validity in the 21st century.
The theater in verse no longer smells like naphthalene and there are many contemporary theater creators who claim it. Not only that composed by the great masters of the Golden Age, who lives a moment of great effervescence: there are also authors who dare to write today as did Lope and Calderón. It is a valuable musical and sound resource, they defend, which gives weight to the word and what it says. This is demonstrated by the recent appearance of new companies, such as Ay Teatro, created by Álvaro Tato and Yayo Cáceres, who has just premiered at the Fernán Gómez theater in Madrid the first verse and verse comedy of the 21st century, All hurt and one kills, written by Tato himself, with producer Eugenia Yagüe.
Álvaro Tato (Madrid, 1978) and Yayo Cáceres (Corrientes, Argentina, 1965), two names drawn from classical literature, components of Ron Lalá and always very close to the CNTC, they are convinced that times can not be "better" to embark on the adventure of creating a new company dedicated entirely to the staging of works in verse, not only those who wrote the classics but also also others of new harvest. "Maybe it's a great adventure, a daring or a nonsense, but in these technological times, watched and connected, the theater opens as a safe and necessary value for society," says Tato. Ay Teatro poses a return to the roots, a search for nudity and poor theater, not in the sense of scarcity, but of essentiality, say Tato and Cáceres, who intend to look back but always thinking about the present and the future .
Vicente Fuentes always appears. Behind every project, every verse installation is this man who advises the National Classical Theater Company and is the director of Fuentes de la Voz, a voice, word and verse research center, located in Sorihuela (Salamanca) ). For Fuentes, the verse is poetry and consubstantial to our language, so to do it you have to know the language. "No other knowledge is required, it is not a secret art," says the professor of the Royal School of Dramatic Arts. "Today the word poetry does not count in the lives of many people and, nevertheless, it is a piston that helps us to break, to flee from the habitual, to escape from the obvious. The verse confers truth and meaning and directs our emotional settlement. In our verses there is something surgical and something of revelation ".
Are they good times for verse? "Sometimes it looks like something old or dirty, but nothing is further from the truth. The verse is part of our life. This is the Spain that you look for when you come to live here like me, the Spain of the Golden Age, of El Quijote, of the Machado. The Spain of the verse is what Spain has given the world, "says Cáceres, who traveled to Madrid for a six-month stay and has now been eight years. "The verse provokes in the spectator the magic of music, covers our language and our ideas of music and crystallizes in an unforgettable way. The silence of the audience in a work in verse is special, "adds Tato.
The premiere of All hurt and one kills is part of the Miradas al Siglo de Oro cycle, which also includes the work Mixed, with which Ay Teatro intends to breathe the poison of verse into the new generations. The aim of the new company is not only to create and exhibit new works, but also to create a pool of actors and young viewers, with representations aimed at institutes and schools. "We are obsessed with the fact that the theater is aimed at the young spectator, as a tool for academic and recreational training", they defend.
Another contemporary author who has also started writing in classical metric is Patxo Tellería. His work Pancreas, premiered at the National Drama Center in 2015, was born of the need to investigate with language. "I liked the idea of going against the current. The idea that the verse is old is an error, it is a very valuable musical and sound resource that we should not renounce. It is a language as contemporary and current as any other. It is a poetry that transcends time, "explains Telleria, who does not know if he will write another piece in verse. "I would need a justification. With Pancreas I had it because the characters lived in heaven, and in heaven they speak in verse. "
Something similar thinks Ana Zamora, the creator of the company Nao de Amores, specialized in the pre-baroque repertoire, in the medieval and Renaissance theater, which has already assembled fourteen works. "Simplifying does not reach the viewer better. The ritual, the rhythm and the phonetics of the verse are part of ourselves. The verse is a great way to express ourselves and deal with transcendent topics. What we do have to be is serious, because otherwise the verse sounds old and the viewer moves away, "defends Zamora.
Another great standard-bearer of the verse today is the actor José Carlos Cuevas, 33, who after passing through the Young Company of the CNTC and winning the Off Award of the Almagro Festival in 2017 for his staging of A secret grievance, secret revenge, de Calderón, launched the creation of the company Jóvenes Clásicos in Málaga, his hometown. "All the tricks to interpret find them in the Golden Age. The verse is neither archaic nor outdated. It is a genre whose structure serves you for a very disciplined training in interpretation. The author in verse gives you many keys to interpret. The verse is addictive, it is a way to plunge into a text without a background, you always make a different trip, "says Cuevas, who is preparing two new works with his company.
The rebirth of a genre
If summer is the preferred season for the great circuits of classical theater festivals that flood towns and cities (Almagro, Mérida, Cáceres, Olmedo, Olite, Peñíscola, Alcalá de Henares and others), the rest of the year is no stranger to the productions that have in their verse their great ally.
The data endorse this rebirth of a genre that not only reviews Lope de Vega, Calderón or Tirso de Molina, but uses its language to create new works. The 41 International Classical Theater Festival of Almagro It closed at the end of last July, after 25 days of programming and 124 performances in verse, with a total of about 33,000 spectators and a collection of 555,000 euros.
The National Classical Theater Company (CNTC), dependent of the Ministry of Culture and absolute reference of the Golden Age, has seen how the influx of public and the number of productions has been increasing year after year, with the sign of no entries in many functions. In nine seasons, the spectators of the CNTC, in its headquarters in Madrid, have gone from 58,000 in 2008-2009 to about 100,000 in 2017-2018, this last period with a 97% occupancy.