When Shirley Valentine, the celebrated character written by Willy Russell in the comedy of the same name, takes a plane to the Greek Islands, her true destination is a trip to the center of herself. From Pauline Collins to Amparo Moreno or Verónica Forqué, multiple actresses from different latitudes have entered the skin of this feminist housewife in Liverpool in the 80s, who breaks the corsets of a patriarchal way of life under the conviction that “We do not do what we want, but we do what we think we have to do and we convince ourselves that it is what we want.”
The actress Mari Carmen Sánchez, one of the most outstanding and beloved interpreters of the Canary Islands, joins this list, who embroiders this emancipating monologue in a key of humor and tenderness throughout 80 minutes alone on stage. The Pérez Galdós Theater will host tomorrow the world premiere of I love Shirley Valentine, an adaptation directed by Juan José Afonso from Russell’s original text, which the actress and director presented yesterday accompanied by Encarna Galván, Councilor for Culture of the Las Palmas City Council from Gran Canaria; and Tilman Kuttenkeuler, director of the Auditorium and Theater Foundation.
Sánchez stars in this emancipatory monologue for 80 minutes alone on stage
“I feel absolutely happy and excited to represent this text in the theater par excellence of my city,” said yesterday Mari Carmen Sánchez, who confessed that she faces this challenge “with significant vertigo, but convinced that the public will fall in love with Shirley Valentine as I have fallen in love ». Along these lines, the actress points out that the worldwide success of this montage, adapted to the big screen by the filmmaker Lewis Gilbert in 1989, resides “in the fact that its protagonist is almost a human being of flesh and blood.”
«The public will enjoy a work with a feminist touch but, above all, with a very human, real and empathetic character, who is committed to falling in love with herself again and getting out of that routine life that she feels she is wasting in order to follow their dreams, “adds Sánchez.
Likewise, both the actress and the director entered the montage construction process without consulting a single previous theatrical or cinematographic reference, in order to draw their own gaze, without contaminants, on the blank canvas. Sánchez describes the path as “a long, committed but easy work process, where the director and I have worked together hand in hand until we got here.”
For his part, Juan José Afonso adds that “we have tried to give our point of view on this wonderful text by Russell and I think it never leaves anyone indifferent because what happens on stage, happens in life.” In this sense, they both agree that Shirley Valentine’s inner revolution continues to be contemporary, like Ibsen’s Nora or Galdós’s Tristana.
«This work is a groundbreaking comedy that, in the 80s, was a small revolution and an enormous help for the liberation of women, which has also been represented in almost all the countries of the world by the best actresses from all over the world and which has always been a success, so responsibility is always maximum, “said Afonso.
On the other hand, the director recalled that the plot of the montage follows a simple architecture through a soliloquy that delves into the social gender gap in the lanes of comedy, which favors the involvement of the audience. “What happens with comedies is that you have to put them on stage to see how they breathe, but we have a lot of confidence regarding their reception here because we know that the public in the Canary Islands is very theatrical,” he reflected.
“It does not leave indifferent because what happens on stage, happens in life,” says Afonso
For now, I love Shirley Valentine offers a unique performance tomorrow in the capital’s theater, framed in the Culture in Action program, promoted by the City Council of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. However, the production has already closed different places on the island of Tenerife and guarantees its return to Gran Canaria from next September. In this sense, both Sánchez and Afonso and the institutional representatives highlighted the merit of raising this show at the edge of the season and in the context of the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, out of pure love of the theater.
Tickets can be purchased on the Pérez Galdós Theater website www.teatroperezgaldos.es and at the Alfredo Kraus Auditorium box office from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., since, tomorrow, the day of the performance, the Theater box office will remain open from two hours before the start of the show.