Such was the impact that the theatrical representation of Lezama Park When I was a student in New York, at 24 years old, that work by Herb Gardner has marked his life as a filmmaker. The Argentine director Juan José Campanella (Buenos Aires, 1959), winner of an Oscar in 2010 with The Secret in Their Eyes, He did not stop until he managed to bring to the scene that text he does not hesitate to refer to as "the dream of his life". It was finally in 2013, after almost 30 years of insistence and fights, when he was finally able to direct the adaptation of that show he saw one afternoon in a Broadway theater. Now, after three and a half years of resounding success in Argentina, with more than 800 performances, 300,000 spectators and numerous awards, Lezama Park, with Eduardo Blanco and Luis Brandoni as protagonists, will land in Madrid next summer at the Teatro Figaro. The five actors that will accompany Blanco and Brandoni will come out of a casting that will be made in Spain.
Campanella has not managed to get to hear the last phrase of the work in any representation – "it's a long, very long and complicated story" – and that has assisted as a director-spectator to a multitude of functions. Such are the laughter of the public, that even interrupts with its applause the function in several occasions. Director of The son of the bride or Football, who is finishing these days in Madrid the post-production of his latest film, The tale of the weasels, that will premiere in Argentina in May, confesses that since he saw the work for the first time, he is driven by the desire to adapt and direct it. "There was a very strong resistance on the part of the author to yield the rights for its adaptation. So I took my Oscar for The Secret in Their Eyes in Hollywood to insist again. Then, the author had already died and it was his widow, of whom I have now become a very good friend, who finally authorized me to take her to the theater in Spanish, "confesses Campanella, for whom the tone he found in that text, a dramatic comedy of characters with street wisdom and a lot of humor, he became the main influence of his later films and that he sees clearly reflected in The son of the bride, The moon of Avellaneda and even in The Secret in Their Eyes.
"To me humor lowers all defenses to make room for emotion. To me the cinema and the theater have never taken a tear of sadness from me. The characters of Lezama Park They have a lot to do with Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. They represent idealism, the dreamer, the one who believes that the world can be changed against the conformist, who accepts the world as it is. The best thing about this work, which is not about old age even if it is carried out by two old people, is that at the same time it excites, it provokes a great laugh, "says an enthusiastic Campanella, who after six films and four years surrounded by computers for the realization of Football, his last film for which he has opted for animation, he lived as a great liberation his theatrical encounter with actors of flesh and blood live and direct.
"For me, theater is like being hidden in a room and looking at what is happening. It is something very intimate that also has something like a spy ", adds the filmmaker, who has not only premiered his second theatrical work in Buenos Aires What we do with Walter?, but also has gotten fully into the great adventure of building a theater, in the heart of the Argentine capital. Thanks to a law, in force in Argentina since 1959, you can not build anything on a site that has previously hosted a theater. Thus, Campanella has taken advantage of this circumstance to launch a new theatrical space, which will be inaugurated in a year and a half. "Although the photo at this moment in Argentina is that of the crisis, I always think of a complete film and not just a single frame. I hope to live at least 25 more years and I am convinced that there will be times of bonanza and crisis, one after the other, so you can never be thinking about that. " concludes.