January 25, 2021

Latin American theater expands in Spain | Culture

Latin American theater expands in Spain | Culture


This Friday the 33rd edition of the Ibero-American Theater Festival (FIT) of Cádiz. Up to October 27, a dozen Latin American companies and as many Spanish companies will operate in this city. In Girona, also on Friday, the Argentine Claudio Tolcachir, known for his success The omission of the Coleman family, will premiere this work in Catalan in a production of the Temporada Alta festival, at the same time that the original show in Spanish – premiered in Buenos Aires in 2005 – undertakes in Granada a new tour of Spain that will continue in Zaragoza, Madrid, Palma and Valencia. High season will also present Two pieces by Uruguayan Sergio Blanco and another one from the Argentine Lautaro Perotti.

When the FIT held its first edition in 1985, Latin American theater had very little visibility in Spain. "We were almost their only gateway to Europe," his director, Pepe Bablé, recalled last week in a telephone conversation with EL PAÍS. But in the last decade, thanks in good part to the constant work of the Cadiz festival, names like Daniel Veronese, Rafael Spregelburd, Tolcachir, Perotti and Blanco have become frequent in the country's billboards, to which we must add some who have ended up getting settled in Madrid (Pablo Messiez, Denise Despeyroux), as well as a new wave that is bursting with force: The Colochos, Marianella Morena, Lola Arias, Marco Layera. And not as stone guests: more and more these creators are claimed not only to exhibit their works but also to produce them with Spanish actors.

Scene from 'The bellow of Düsseldorf', by Sergio Blanco.
Scene from 'The bellow of Düsseldorf', by Sergio Blanco.

This continuous presence in Spain of Latin American creators has led to a very productive friction. Is the dream of an Ibero-American theater interconnected beyond the language close to materializing? "Without a doubt there are more bridges than when I came to Spain for the first time 10 years ago, and that enriches us mutually. I have the feeling that we are in a more similar search, I see more irreverence and more risk than before in the Spanish creators. Maybe it has to do with the crisis because it has forced them to work from the need, but I think that Argentines have also contributed something to that attitude because we are experts in making theater without money, "says Tolcachir on the phone from a hotel in Girona, on the eve of the premiere of The omission of the Coleman family in Catalan.

But the consequences of this interconnection are also perceived, according to the Argentine director, on the other side. "In my room in Buenos Aires, Doorbell 4, we look forward to the Spanish companies that Temporada Alta brings us every year, "he says, referring to the extensions created by the Catalan festival in Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Lima.

Image of 'Campo Minado', by Lola Arias.
Image of 'Campo Minado', by Lola Arias.

Lautaro Perotti, actor and director in Timbre 4, is a good example of the results produced by this constant interconnection: he directed for the Spanish Theater of Madrid his work Chronology of the beasts, which in the coming weeks will also be seen in Barcelona and High Season , but now it has just premiered in Buenos Aires its staging of La respiración, by Alfredo Sanzol from Madrid. "All this comes up naturally. I come here and see things that I want to take there, but I also want to work here with Spanish actors that I am getting to know and that is why I get involved in projects in Spain ", explains Perotti in conversation from Buenos Aires.

Sergio Blanco, playwright and and Uruguayan director omnipresent in recent years in Spain for his mastery of theater self-fiction in works such as Thebes Land Y Ostia, celebrates the work of festivals as a gateway, but also highlights the role of new technologies. "They have been a real revolution, we can work in parallel in the same production being in different countries," he answers from Mexico, where he is giving several workshops. In a few days he will travel to Girona to present his work The bellow of Düsseldorf, directed by himself, also programmed in Madrid during the Autumn Festival.

More freedom, commitment and precariousness

The increasing friction between the Ibero-American creators is propitiating common dynamics, although there is a clearly differentiating element between the two banks. "The theater there is much more socially committed, while in Spain the creators, like the Europeans, are more concerned with aesthetic concepts," says FIT director Pepe Bablé. It is corroborated by Juan Carrillo, director of the Mexican group Los Colochos, known in Spain for his particular version of Macbeth: "In Mexico, the themes go hand in hand with the context. And in that sense, there is more rawness and viscerality. "

Sergio Blanco warns, on the other hand, greater freedom from the past: "Sometimes cultural heritages can crush you. In Uruguay, because we did not have the burden of a repertoire, we had to invent ourselves permanently ". Also Uruguayan, Marianella Morena agrees that this tradition "supposes a relief and facilitates irreverence and gambling, although it can also reduce legitimacy". Marco Layera, from Chile, abounds in precariousness: "In both there is a diversity of languages, forms and content. But at the level of production, Spanish artists have unimaginable resources in Chile. "

Certainly the festivals are still the main bridge connecting Latin American and Spanish theater. In addition to the FIT, it has been a few years since Temporada Alta, the Autumn Season and the Almagro season have been betting heavily on the creators from the other side of the ocean, although without neglecting their traditional attachment to European theater.

Nor should we forget the contribution of the international grant program Iberescena. This aid system promotes grassroots projects among creators of the different countries of the Ibero-American sphere. An example: the Extremadura company The attic just released The other, by Spaniard Alberto Conejero, directed by Mexican Mauricio García Lozano, who will tour both in Spain and Mexico.

The colective The Re-felt, directed by Marco Layera, will debut in November in Madrid at the hand of the Autumn Festival, although their first appearance in Spain was in the FIT of Cadiz. Defined as the punk company of the Chilean theater, it is one of those new Latin American voices that are breaking out not only in the Spanish-speaking world but also in Europe, with a radical style that provokes both ovations and escapes from the halls.

This new wave includes, for the first time in a prominent way, several names of women. The Uruguayan Marianella Morena, creator also of a groundbreaking language, just finished in Valladolid a coproduction of the Teatro Calderón with Iberescena and now he is in Barcelona preparing a show on behalf of the Beckett room and the Pavón Kamikaze in Madrid. And at the end of November, the Argentine Lola Arias, who has triumphed in Europe with her documentary theater show, will finally make her debut in Spain at the Teatros del Canal in Madrid. Minefield, which brings together British veterans and their country that fought in the Falklands War. It is one of the most anticipated shows of the season in the capital.

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