The jingle of a bell has not ceased since February 14, 1995, the first function of the Abbey Theater, in Madrid. When 25 years of one of the least accommodating, most innovative and brave scenic spaces in Spain are celebrated, the bell keeps ringing. It is the signal that the viewer is about to live an experience beyond mere function. Because La Abadía is more than a theater: it is a house that welcomes creators and artists, a place of formation in which to investigate the trade, reflect with society and raise questions about the human condition and history.
It’s been 25 years in which its creator, José Luis Gómez, sand has left the skin to make the Abbey a center of reference beyond our borders. His companions and friends offer him a great tribute tomorrow in which what will resonate the most, apart from the bell, will be “thank you”. With Lluís Homar as master of ceremonies, Gregorio Marañón, Juan Luis Cebrián, Joaquín Garrigues Walker and Nuria Espert will be some of those who participate in this meeting of devotion for this great man of the theater, in which there will also be a space for surprises. With a look into the past and another in the present and the future, it opens in the Abbey a month that, with the title of Flight instructions and practices and the artistic coordination of the actress Inma Nieto, will bring together shows, readings, exhibitions, recitals, and other experiences.
At 79, Gomez has not only put voice and face in some of the most emblematic montages of this theater (texts by Kafka, Miguel de Unamuno, Ionesco, La Celestina or Azaña), but has also been the director of 15 shows, from the Altarpiece of greed, lust and death (from Valle-Inclán) with which the center was inaugurated, and has given shelter to actors and creators that now flood the country’s stages. Gómez, RAE academic since 2011, gave the helm of the Abbey now a year ago, position in which Carlos Aladro replaced him.
Although he admits that nature gave him instruments to serve his profession, Gomez admits that he never had too much confidence in himself and that his trade, hardened on the basis of effort, has traveled through moments of insecurity. “At the bottom of my heart, success has always surprised me,” he says. “I go through bursts of melancholy, stages of life have passed and I am satisfied because I believe I have fulfilled them with decency. I want to prepare for the next time, which is decisive and I hope it will be reunited with myself ”, adds the former director of La Abadía, for whom this theater has meant an“ extraordinary ”personal enrichment, but a“ huge break ”in his career like actor.
In 25 years he has only performed once outside the theater he founded – with Celestine and the Classical Theater Company— and directed a play at the National Dramatic Center, Perpetual peace, from Juan Mayorga. He does not regret it because his commitment to the Community of Madrid was to found a center with a different public theater management model and in which the word and the body were at the service of the scenarios. “I felt that everything I was doing was for me and for me and I began to want to do something bigger than me, something with others and for others,” he recalls now about the decision of create the Abbey, with the motto The intelligent pleasure of theater. This has been maintained over 25 years, in which physical and verbal work have been at the center of their concerns. “I have tried to contribute to strengthening the expressiveness of the body and the word. Unfortunately in Spain the theater is associated with entertainment, which it is also but never in the first place. I wanted to translate the idea of theater as a source of pleasure. ”
Demanding with the word, Gomez is aware that The abbey has stimulated the possibilities of the actor, in terms of the use of language. “The word is an unavoidable identity sign of a country and on stage that language must be transmitted with the best sense and sound, completed with the body. The actors have to be eloquent creatures to serve the word of the poets. ”
The search for beauty and poetry, commitment and loyalty. This is how Aladro (Madrid, 1970) sees the story of “this theater of art”, which he now directs. For him, the most important thing about La Abadía is the European model he has contributed and of which there is only one more case in Spain, the Lliure Theater. “They are entities that are born on the initiative of theater people to dedicate themselves to the public service of the performing arts from the autonomy and independence of some creators who do not opt for the traditional way of the entertainment world and the complacent theater that must fill the rooms, but for culture as the backbone of welfare societies so as not to repeat the mistakes of history and end up with machetes or stakes again. Today it has become a necessity, ”he says. “The first assemblies of Gómez supposed a brutal irruption in the Madrid of those years. One of his great contributions has been acting ethics. It has achieved a transversal theater, not elitist, open to many audiences, ”adds Aladro. That is, a theater that is everyone’s house.
25 days of celebration for the 25 years of existence of the Abbey. This will be the anniversary of this theater. Exhibitions, recitals and experiences on stage make up this cycle, whose start tomorrow will be the great act of homage to José Luis Gómez. But not only.
Biography of silence. In the adaptation of the essay of the priest Pablo D’Ors (Madrid, 1963) and turned into a sales success since its publication in 2012, spectators will be invited, by the hand of actress Yolanda Ulloa, and under the direction of Luis D’Ors, the author’s brother, to a joint experience to meditate in silence. February 2
Sonora Lying on mats and headphones, a small audience will live what Lara Solano, its creator, has called “radio stations.” February 7-9.
Sing of Mio Cid. With dramaturgy by Brenda Escobedo, José Luis Gómez will approach the classic, within the RAE project Comedians of the language. The academic, who will evoke the deeds of the Cid Campeador, will be accompanied by the pianist Helena Fernández Moreno. February 15.
Ravaged desire. The actor Luis Bermejo will stage a written montage, directed and interpreted by himself with some unpublished and never represented texts. Ravaged desire He speaks of a man yearning for love, who seeks joy through the word. A monologue in which humor will not be lacking. February 16th.
Who said Sunday was a day of rest? This show is a proposal of Juan Codina, the master of actors, in which a shout of rebellion and controversy in art is launched. A manifesto, as nobody’s work and property of all, full of idealism, commitment and imagination. 23 of February.