June 21, 2021

Children's theater conjures taboos | Culture

Children's theater conjures taboos | Culture


When in 1998 the company from La Mancha Lucas Groceries he premiered his work Juul, what happened to you? that tells the story of a boy who is mutilating parts of his body that his classmates make fun of (ears, nose, arms), caused a great impact in the field of performing arts for children and young people. At that time, these types of topics were unthinkable in a sector that tended to sweeten reality. And less treated with such rawness. "There was a lot of talk about her, although we represent her little. The programmers were scared and did not hire us, "recalls its director, Jorge Padín. Despite this, the collective did not surrender and continued working on that line: Nothing, One of his latest creations is based on a story by the Danish Janne Teller that was banned when it was published in 2000 because it considered that it could incite adolescents to commit suicide, but that today it is required reading in many European institutes.

The panorama has changed a lot, in parallel to the change in trend that has also been observed in children's literature. Following the push of pioneering formations such as Lucas's Grocery, Puppets by María Parrato, La Rous or Marie de Jongh (all of them winners of the National Theater Award for Children and Youth in recent years), more and more companies dare to raise raw conflicts. Reflection of this current is the European Fair of Performing Arts for Boys and Girls (Feten), the great Spanish event of the genre, which takes place annually in Gijón since 1991. The program of its new edition, inaugurated this Sunday, includes a good number of shows that address topics considered taboo a decade ago: death, disease, refugees, loss of home, prison and even femicides in Mexico.

Jean Philippe Kikolas in a moment of his show 'Calor'.
Jean Philippe Kikolas in a moment of his show 'Calor'.

"The commercial circuits are still reluctant to these issues, but public spaces are awakening and that encourages the creators to take more risks. There are real wonders among the proposals we receive in each edition, each time more courageous and less afraid to get out of the traditional parameters, mixing new technologies with craft techniques such as puppets, "says Marián Osácar, director of Feten. "Children do not live in a bubble. The problem is not what is told, but how it is counted. And these companies have found the right code to do it, "he adds.

Why avoid sad issues or fears, instead of putting them on stage to help them assimilate and overcome them?

Lola Fernández, researcher

The trend is clear and they begin to publish essays that study the phenomenon. Lola Fernández de Sevilla won the research prize last year from the Assitej association, a benchmark in the sector, for her work Ogres, spinach and other … How to tell the terrible things to children in the theater, published by Assitej itself. "The basis of the theater has always been conflict. Therefore, if you avoid it, you will get a product that is going to be very little artistic and also will not leave a mark. Why avoid sad issues or fears, instead of putting them on stage to help them assimilate and overcome them? ", Says the researcher. "Luckily, more and more companies are realizing this and that the theater has very powerful tools to address these issues in a symbolic way: dance, music, puppets, objects …" adds Fernández de Sevilla.

The commercial circuits are still reluctant to these issues, but public spaces are awakening

Marián Osácar, director of Feten

From Ultramarinos de Lucas, Padín celebrates this change of trend, although he warns that the terrain is thorny. "This has to be done very seriously and with responsibility. You can not address an issue such as suicide or death in any way, we always work with pedagogues and we do tests before the premiere, "he warns. "It's not always done like this. Now that these issues are starting to sell well -the bullying, unemployment, gender equality – you have to be very careful, because all of a sudden, fast-running shows start sprouting to satisfy this demand, "he insists.

The Te Veo association, which brings together about fifty professional companies, constantly fights against intrusion. "It is one of the sectors where there is more. This a very broad market, there are many school campaigns, but at the same time very precarious because there are still those who think that children are worth anything. And that is not the case, especially when dealing with hard subjects. You have to be alert, "explains Rosa Sánchez, manager of the entity.

Feminicides, refugees and evictions

Until Friday, Feten will exhibit in Gijón shows of 86 companies from nine countries. Among them there is a good percentage, unthinkable a decade ago, with crude plots. For example, the Mexican company Los Cantores del Confín presents Belisa, where are you? (The mystery of missing girls), that enters with puppets, objects and music in femicides in his country. Goodbye Peter Pan, of the Catalans Festuc, addresses the sadness of a girl for the death of her grandfather. My father is an ogre, from La Baldufa, tells the story of a boy whose father is in jail. Hot, by Jean Philippe Kikolas, and Pilgrims, a co-production of Voilà and Teatro Kamikaze, dive into the problem of refugees. Jule, of Hortzmuga, narrates an eviction. Crazy hair, of Mimaia, the tragedy of a child forced to work. The smallest house, of Yarleku, and LAR (the house, the home), of LaSal, the loss of home. Y Clavileño and children, of Violet Territory, on machismo.

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