December 2, 2020

Emergency scenarios: the theater that stands up to the crisis | Babelia

On March 12, the Pavón Kamikaze theater in Madrid suspended in extremis the premiere of Treason, play by Harold Pinter directed by Israel Elejalde, scheduled for that night. It was the last scenario that threw the curtain on the city due to the advance of the coronavirus. Almost six months later, that show has finally been able to be shown to the public this week and has kicked off a new season that will be marked by the recovery of many of those productions that were frozen, in addition to the fear that a sprout will again frustrate your presentation. This is why most theaters have preferred not to announce new productions beyond the fall and some have not even done so yet.

From what has been announced so far, it can be deduced that the coronavirus has not only transformed performing art by imposing distance and masks, but is also shaking its foundations. The March blackout has prompted many creators to experiment with digital media, leading to hybrid formats labeled as digital theater or transmedia. A true revolution that unfolds accompanied by new themes closely linked to the pandemic and that will be reflected on the stage this fall. Call it an emergency theater against the uncertainty that plagues us.

Dramaturgies of the coronavirus

In the coming months, several texts that develop these themes arising from the pandemic will be released. The National Theater of Catalonia will inaugurate its season with a show entitled Decameron, inspired by the homonymous film by Pasolini, which in turn was based on the novel of the same title that Boccaccio conceived after the plague of 1348. It is a set of monologues commissioned to eight contemporary authors (Cristina Morales, Valère Novarina, Davide Carnevali, Narcís Comadira, Dimitris Dimitriadis, Najat El Hachmi, Gregorio Luri, Marta Marín-Dòmine) that will be combined with texts by Pasolini and the late Josep Maria Benet i Jornet. It will be performed from October 1 to 25.

The two great Spanish autumn festivals, the Girona High Season and that of the Community of Madrid, have also stimulated the creation of works flown over by the pandemic. First will open on October 7 with the work Bouvetøya (the need for an island), written for the occasion by Julio Manrique, Sergi Pompermayer, Cristina Genebat and Ivan Benet, with staging of the first. The one in Madrid (from November 12 to 29) will present the cycle Confín, ten short montages conceived during confinement. There are autobiographical pieces like I’m a survivor of María San Miguel, who documents the death of her father after contracting coronavirus; more poetic explorations like Limbo, by the Fango collective, and choreographies such as the one by Carmen Werner entitled I will let you know if the world changes.

'Sonoma', by La Veronal.
‘Sonoma’, by La Veronal.

The digital revolution

The experimentation with digital tools initiated by many artists during the months of confinement has opened up new horizons for the performing arts. The main theaters have already warned that they will keep their “virtual rooms” open in parallel to their face-to-face programming, among other things to maintain activity if they are forced to close again. The Abbey Theater will maintain its cycle during the autumn Confined Theater, which takes place live on Zoom, although the titles have not yet been announced. High Season will broadcast on streaming all the shows scheduled in person.

Transmedia theater has also come to stay. The Autumn Festival of the Community of Madrid will present a cycle of three pieces that combine all kinds of languages ​​(scenic, audiovisual, radio, telephone, graphic) and that will take place in different spaces (theaters, streets, social networks, radio), signed by Antonio Rojano, Belén Santa-Olalla and the duo formed by Rocío Bello and Javier Hernando.

It will be interesting to see how the National Dramatic Center moves to the face-to-face format The pyre, the cycle of pieces that he ordered in spring to be seen in streaming, that aired in June and July on the Internet, with themes also related to the pandemic. They can be seen at the Valle-Inclán theater during the second half of September and are signed by Alfredo Sanzol, Juan Mayorga, Pablo Remón, Lucía Carballal, Pau Miró, Denise Despeyroux, Andrea Jiménez, Noemi Rodríguez and Victoria Szpunberg. And conversely, the series Scenario 0 will adapt for television works premiered in theaters in recent seasons: Uncle Vania, Sisters, Mariachis, Trial of a fox, Mammon and All the time of the World. They will begin airing on September 13 on the HBO platform.

Rescues and news

In addition to Treason at the Pavón Kamikaze, many other productions that had to be canceled will be released in the coming months. The National Dramatic Center has rescued Autumn in April, Happy days, Transformation and My century, my beast. The Spanish Theater of Madrid will recover, among others, Tell it so as not to forget and respective adaptations of the novels Little women and The House of Spirits. The Abadía de Madrid will premiere on September 10 the version of Seagull, by Chéjov, which Àlex Rigola could not premiere in March in Barcelona.

The writer Édouard Louis, in 'Who Killed My Father?'.
The writer Édouard Louis, in ‘Who Killed My Father?’.

Among the new productions, two other adaptations of novels that will be released in Spanish stand out: Pedro Paramo, by Juan Rulfo, directed by Mario Gas, and The filthy ones by Santiago Lorenzo, directed by David Serrano. Jordi Casanovas will premiere in October on a tour of Catalonia his new work, Some days of yesterday on the independence process. And the new show of the La Veronal dance company, Sonoma, Inspired by the surrealist universe of Buñuel, it will be seen at Temporada Alta, the Mercat de les Flors in Barcelona and Les Arts de Valencia.


International circuits are at half gas. Despite this, neither the Madrid Autumn Festival nor the High Season have wanted to give up offering that window to the outside and have advanced that they will program shows from other countries. There will also be interesting alliances between major European centers, including the co-production of the Théâtre de la Ville in Paris and the Schaübuhne in Berlin to stage the rehearsal Who Killed My Father?, by Édouard Louis, shining star of French letters. Directed by Thomas Ostermeier, who already adapted Louis’s previous book for the theater, A history of violence with the added morbidity that it will be the writer himself who plays himself in the show. It will be seen in September in Paris and in November in Berlin. La Ribot will be the protagonist in the Venice Biennale of Dance, who will give you his Golden Lion on October 15. And at the Bridge Theater in London you can see Ralph Fiennes in Beat the devil (Defeat the Devil), an autobiographical monologue in which playwright David Hare recalls the delusions he suffered when he contracted the coronavirus.


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