This Friday was a doubly special day for Carlos Saura: a christening and a premiere. First was the baptism: at seven o'clock in the afternoon, the main hall of the Congress Palace of Huesca, his hometown, went from having no name (the building was opened in 2008) to be officially called Carlos Saura Auditorium. Shortly after, on that same stage, the director premiered not a film as might be expected from his long career as a filmmaker, but a play: The colonel has no one to write, adaptation of the novel by Gabriel García Márquez, with Juan Diego in the role of colonel and Cristina de Inza as his wife.
It is not the first time that Saura has directed a theatrical show, since he signed the opera with Gades Carmen and he has also made musical works, but only once before had he faced a conventional dramatic text, when he took to the scene The great theater of the world, Calderón, in 2013. Despite this, a few hours before the premiere on a sunny morning in Huesca, the director was not nervous: "It's a very simple show, almost minimalist, with a very powerful text that needs to be all good actors. And that, with Juan Diego at the helm, is assured. The only thing that can fail is technology. "
He tells it as if it had been easy, but the truth is that it is not easy to stage the fantastic universe of García Márquez without being imposed. Saura solves it with a simple formula: as backdrops he uses his drawings that recreate the mythical landscape of Macondo or parts of the scenography and that contrast with the physical decoration; that is, the real fused with the imagined: the equation of magical realism. And the rooster that appears as a fundamental character in the novel? "The rooster is, of course, and at the same time is not," the director replies ambiguously, praying that the mystery will not be revealed to the spectators.
The work, which tells the life of an old retired colonel who is waiting for a pension that never comes, has been adapted for the scene by Natalio Grueso. A mission that is not intuited easy either. "From the beginning my main concern was to maintain the poetic language of García Márquez and at the same time make it credible. We have introduced many new dialogues with this intention and there are even excerpts from Litter", explains Coarse.
Saura, just turned 87, accumulates awards and distinctions of high caliber, but the one he received yesterday is special because he comes from his hometown. "When they proposed it, it seemed excessive to me, really, but of course I am very grateful. It's almost a way to go back to childhood, "he confesses. And now, add another confidence that sounds almost apologetic when it comes to the premiere of his work: "I'm not a theater man, I confess, I always feel like grabbing a camera to record the actors more closely, echo missing the first planes. And in addition, we must recognize that everything is very artificial, especially the opera, you have to accept many more conventions than in the cinema. "
So, what do you like about the theater? "First, I find work more comfortable than film. It happens to me as Bergman, who as he got older wanted to do more theater because the shoots tired him. But apart from this, which is important at my age, what I like most about the theater is the freedom of improvisation it offers: you can see how the actors develop their characters from the beginning to the end and change things on the fly, while that in the cinema you have to have everything planned from the beginning because it is very rare that a film can be shot chronologically. I could only do it once, in The hunt, and I thought it was wonderful. "
Gabriel García Márquez did not like that his works were adapted to the cinema or the theater, basically because he did not trust that they would turn out well. He never allowed his top novel to be brought to the big screen, One hundred years of loneliness, but he did accept adaptations of other works. Precisely one of the most praised was the one that Arturo Ripstein made of The colonel has no one to write for the cinema in 1999, with Marisa Paredes, Fernando Luján and Salma Hayek in the cast. In the scenarios we have seen mostly partial versions and, in this case, the author did agree to adapt One hundred years of solitude: in 2004 it gave the go-ahead to a project of the Valencian Generalitat that finally did not succeed. In 2007 he transferred the rights to his nephew Esteban García, who opened it in Colombia with the title of Home, With the presence of the author.