November 28, 2020

The Casa de Colón recreates the battle against Francis Drake in the Plazoleta de los Álamos on November 14


Some of the actors from La Batalla de Las Palmas dressed in period costume

Some of the actors from La Batalla de Las Palmas dressed in period costume
LP / DLP

The Columbus House organizes on November 14, the theatrical recreation in verse of the attack and Francis Drake’s attempt to conquer Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in 1595. The aforementioned representation, intended for all audiences with which the 425 anniversary of the aforementioned historical event, will take place in what is known as Plazoleta de los Álamos, in Vegueta, in the form of two functions, scheduled at 7:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m., which may be attended by 90 people per function. The tickets are sold out.

This theatrical performance of character amateur titled ‘The battle of Las Palmas. Letter to the king ‘, is a project of the Casa de Colón that has the text and direction of the historian, museologist and cultural manager of Gran Canaria Fernando Becerra, to which the collaboration of Adrián Santana is added. El Ómnibus: Teatro del Pueblo, the Association for the Dissemination of the History of the Canary Islands (ADHICA) of Santa Brígida and the Custodios Atlantis association also participate in this initiative. The public will experience a journey back in time 425 years to witness one of the events that would mark the history and life of that primitive city for posterity, “collecting the palpitation of the residents of Las Palmas, before, during and after the bloody event”. Since February of this year, this project has been articulated, which has counted on the difficulties that the pandemic has caused until now.

“It is not a historical representation,” explains Fernando Becerra, who anticipates that, in the initiative that will last approximately one hour about thirty people of different ages participate, anonymous citizens who will wear reproductions of 16th century costumes, in a show that includes music and dances of the time. “We have opted for a citizen participation project that would value the conservation of intangible heritage”, he points out, “which is part of the Teatro del Rescate project. Citizens are spokespersons for the history of the city and the island ”, he adds. “The text is a hymn to hope and shows that we can pose problems from fear and fear or from courage, as our fellow citizens did in 1595.”

In reality, the original work recounts, from the experiences of its inhabitants, the moment when the large British fleet consisting of 27 ships and some three thousand men, commanded by Francis Drake, decided to attack the city on October 6 at the end of the 16th century. A heroic defense of its citizens, organized by the island’s military governor, Alonso de Alvarado, his civilian lieutenant Antonio de Pamochamoso and the militias made up of soldiers and the common people, then saved the capital from disaster. In October 1595, the people of Las Palmas met to write a letter to King Felipe II, telling him about the vicissitudes of the heroic act in which the entire population participated.

The feat, which included even Lope de Vega in his ‘Dragontea’ as Cairasco de Figueroa did in the ‘Militant Temple’, inspires this representation directed by Becerra, also author of the piece, from texts by Viera and Clavijo, Néstor Álamo and Manuel Lobo.

Drake, who died a year after his failed foray into Gran Canaria, made his mark as a military man by looting Spanish ports in the Caribbean when England and the Spanish Empire weren’t even officially at war. The battle that was fought in Las Palmas was motivated by the lack of food and drinking water that its fleet suffered on its journey to America.

After the sighting of the English sails, the Spanish authorities on the island of Gran Canaria, led by Governor Alonso de Alvarado, were barely able to gather 1,500 men for defense, most of them civilians without experience in combat or training. military. Six small artillery pieces were arranged on the beach, and the Castillo de La Luz and the tower of Santa Ana were prepared for battle. Fifteen of the English ships began to beat the castle, concentrating the rest in that of Santa Ana, while 47 barges with half a thousand soldiers on board headed for the beach, where they were received with a heavy musketry fire. After an hour and a half of fighting, the English withdrew, having lost about forty men and four barges, and the ships that attacked having suffered heavy damage of varying degrees.

Fernando Becerra, the director of this show, has developed his work in schools and theater and dubbing companies such as the Fourth Wall, the School of Actors of the Canary Islands or the Luisa Ezquerra School, among others.

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