The cancer of a spectator becomes theatrical material

The cancer of a spectator becomes theatrical material

You turned my mourning into dance It is the second show directed by Paco de la Zaranda together with his playwright, Eusebio Calonge, outside of his own company La Zaranda. Previous it was the extinct poetry, a production of great repercussion that was extended in the Spanish Theater in 2016. In fact, the company has decided to keep that title as the name of the cast. Now, for this new work that is being performed at the Fernán Gómez Theater in Madrid until January 30, two of its actresses, Laura Gómez-Lacueva and Ingrid Magrinyà, are returning, and a third, Inma Nieto, is joining in. All three deal with the text created by Calonge from a letter received by the mother of a La Zaranda viewer, María Pisador, a young theater actress and poet who died early due to cancer.

Pisador, born in Hondarribia in 1976, came to Madrid to study theater in 1994. In this city and when he was barely twenty years old, he began to paint, do theater and write poetry. One afternoon he went to see La Zaranda and became a "penitent" of the ritual, pictorial and mystical theater of the Jerez company. A life full of enthusiasm and plans, of things to do, that she was cut short at the age of 22 when she fell ill with cancer that would take her away in just ten years.

With the disease begins a journey of struggle, the "time in no" as Pisador called it in a series of his poems. A journey in which this Gipuzkoan tries to survive the disease, not to succumb to depression, to continue doing and hoping. The work deals with this "time in no". One of Pisador's last wishes was to go see "his" Zaranda at the Teatro Principal in San Sebastián on an afternoon in March 2007. To do this, he had to set up a device that would take him by ambulance from Pamplona to the theater. Shortly after, he would pass away. That journey went unnoticed by the company and they were only aware some time later when her mother sent the letter. A letter that shocked the company and that motivated the text of the work that Calonge took more than ten years to write and that Zaranda was seriously thinking about staging.

Finally, the playwright and director of La Zaranda decided to go for staging it with their new company, La Extinta Poética, which allowed them to work with more freedom on a text far from the line of La Zaranda, a more narrative text that required addressing the characters outside of the grotesque and grotesque clown so characteristic of La Zaranda. The work narrates that horrible journey of fighting against the disease that ends in death and becomes a synthetic X-ray of life. We see Pisador unfolded into two actresses going through doctors and treatments or dealing with the logic of banks with a concrete mixer soul. We see in this montage her reflections, her desires and her fears, her constant question of whether a life without hope is possible. The montage becomes more distressing as the end draws near. Paco de la Zaranda has a children's play area, with swings and slides, as a metaphorical ring for that fight. Swings that are memories of swings with squeaks, slides that are propellers of travel and hope. The interpretations are measured, soberly naturalistic in some scenes, worked from Meyerlhold's biomechanical technique in others, and with interesting games of distancing between character and actress. An acting job that only breaks at certain moments closer to dance performed by the choreographer and actress Ingrid Magrinyà. The work, from a way of doing things that is very distant from that of La Zaranda, continues to delve into that theater that is born from the cry, from the need to share a pain.

Wilson Escobar, Colombian journalist and professor, biographer of La Zaranda until 2002, tells in his book La Zaranda: so much passion… so much life an anecdote that is already part of the mythical of this company. His pen, already prone to the epic, describes the reaction of the Manizales Festival audience to the first work that this company performed in Colombia, Mariameneo, Mariameneo, one of the great assemblies of La Zaranda. Escobar recounts how after a deathly silence from the audience at the end of the performance, a shirtless man descends the central staircase of the stands and upon reaching the height of the proscenium he raises his arms and begins to pray as if he were the man they are going to shoot. in Goya's painting. Apotheosis and synthesis of how a continent received in the eighties this company that ten years before was in the squares of Jerez performing for the people.

America understood more than anyone La Zaranda's approach to man, a lost man, thrown into a worn-out wasteland and at the same time full of longing and the desire for transcendence. She understood more than anyone her ritual and sacred theater that emerges as a revolt against disbelief, a disbelief that is, on the other hand, a consubstantial part of each character in La Zaranda. La Zaranda does not deny God, he seeks him, and perhaps Europe has forgotten that. Paco de La Zaranda, founder, actor and director of the company after another of her parents, Juan Sánchez, stepped aside, briefly tells why La Zaranda is revered throughout America: "My father told me: ' Paco, no matter what happens, wear clean shoes. If you wear clean shoes, nothing can happen to you.' When I go to Madrid, I look at people's shoes, nobody wears clean shoes. of dirty shoes cannot be a good public".

When the anecdote of that man who ended up praying in a theater in Colombia is told by Zaranda herself, things change. We pass from the myth to the memory full of nostalgia and laughter: "Manizales, 1988, you had to have balls to go to the theater. The public entered with a tremendous military device, with people barricaded with submachine guns. There were two guys with submachine guns looking at the public during the entire And when it was over, it's true that Ramiro Tejada came out, whom we didn't know at the time, and he got down on his knees," recalls Calonge about that spectator who was none other than one of the most relevant critics and theater people in Medellín. "We didn't go out to say hello, we stayed quiet, paralyzed on stage until the last spectator left. And nothing, we couldn't leave, this man was still standing on his knees and the police came to look at him," adds Paco de la Shaker.

La Zaranda tends towards myth because myth is mystery and search, words on which her conception of theater is based. But also because around the world, among the hundreds of performances they have done from Japan to Antequera, this company is capable of raising a shock in the viewer before an elusive and not merely aesthetic beauty, a shock where the present stops and stops the world; and the spectator, lost in the anxiety of going on living, can reconnect with a forgotten part of himself, with an intimate sphere where the human condition resides, our desire for transcendence and our fear of death. This is what happened to María Pisador, like so many other anonymous spectators. That is the type of theater that Gaspar Campuzano and Paco de la Zaranda, both from Jerez, envisioned when they met on a Madrid street in the seventies and said they wanted to do another theater, independent of the one that was in vogue in those years, independent theatre. That is the type of theater that Juan Sánchez shaped and that Eusebio Calonge later continued since he signed forgive the sadness in 1992. And this same concern is the underlying and central theme of the work: the role that art plays in the life of the human being, in a life that we all know how it will end.

María Pisador's need to create, to seek beauty and meaning, also speaks to us of the need of these two fundamental theater artists who, already old, fretted and laureates, have decided to embark on a new adventure and abandon their Zaranda to try new paths. About all this he talked with both this newspaper. In the background, the Café Gijón in Madrid. Memories of another time, of bohemian mischief-makers addicted to the sablazo, of a Madrid in the 1980s where both Jerezans would go to the jarana, the meeting and the chat. Today Gijón looks more alone, the characters have disappeared and an unhappy asepsis reigns.

During the conversation, Calonge and Paco de la Zaranda remember and situate themselves. They talk about their last visit to Catalonia and its theatrical production companies, an experience that left them exhausted and disenchanted, "everything I had to say I said in The scrapping of the muses", explains Calonge about that grotesque work where businessmen and the society of the spectacle are well portrayed. They also reflect on theater and power by recalling their own history: "When La Zaranda was born, independent theater was occupying an easy chair. The independent theater groups, more than theater, what they did was political, what the people applauded was what was said politically. We didn't take that train. And I don't want it to seem that I don't recognize the social work that independent theater did in the seventies. It was very important. And there are many people there that I respect very much theatrically", explains Paco de la Zaranda. "But La Zaranda was interested in that popular vein of independent theater, a theater that could reach the whole world. What happened is that this theater ended up being born from the political offices. Many used the theater as a springboard," adds Calonge.

Little by little, the original nucleus of this company begins to emerge in the conversation: "More than political, what La Zaranda has is a feeling of rebellion. Of course we believe that theater is revolutionary, but we believe more in a poetic revolution, not a political one." I believe, like Simone Weil, that what the revolution lacks, above all, is poetry. What they have taken from the worker is the poetic meaning of existence. They have sold him a lot of smoke and they have not given him the verification of the poetic sense of the present. It leads me to write a revolutionary sense against death, for example," explains Calonge.

"I always understood theater as a work of art. Art expresses the human condition. That's where emotion comes from and that's why it transports you. Look, it will be ridiculous, but today at four in the morning I was awake wondering, after from a talk about Calderón with a friend, whether freedom comes to human beings because they seek it or simply comes to you from old age. One can believe that freedom is something that is personal to them, that one is the owner of their life and that it is oneself who marks it, but it is a bit cretinous to believe that one is so great. After all, there is someone greater than you who will come one day and tell you: 'Shut up, we're leaving' Where Is freedom there? There you can't say no, there you go. Poetry initiates you on that path towards the lost. Today, with all the noise there is, what is needed is a theater that tells you: stop and listen. That's very complicated," adds Paco de la Zaranda. "The very thing that Paco says is revolutionary and it is what must be rescued. The sense of evolution in progress is a lie, it is smoke, that is towards the future and that way we will never get anywhere. But the present, who What stops it? You have to be able to contemplate beauty in the present", concludes Calonge.

Noting that there is less hope in You turned my mourning into dance that in other stagings of La Zaranda both react: "Nobody is capable of saying that God exists, nor is anyone capable of saying that God does not exist. He who has experienced God cannot say it. You can live it and show it, little more "says Paco de la Zaranda. "The simple fact of transmitting a work is already an act of faith," adds Calonge. "María Pisador wanted to be remembered and somehow she is still alive. She died a dozen years ago and here we are. She has achieved what she wanted. It's incredible, but it's like that. She didn't leave. She's with us. We can't say that everything Be it a metaphor, that poetry has been able to defeat death. But it has been able. At the moment it has been winning the battle against death for twelve years. And it is not only a memory, life itself is a memory, the present is a flow that is already was", concludes Paco de la Zaranda.

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