Before the celebration of the Max delivery gala this Monday, September 4, the awards that reward the best theatrical production of the year, the Audience Award has been announced. The chosen one has been the montage Life starts today musical work of the Valencian Tonet Ferrer. According to the organizer of the awards, the SGAE Foundation, Life starts today has achieved this recognition obtaining only 297 votes out of a total of 7,321.
The play, unknown to critics and the public, has only been performed nine times. It premiered at the Talía Theater in Valencia in February of this year with five performances. Another was put up in the House of Culture of the Valencian town of Puçol, and in the small Madrid theater La Encina theater with three performances.
The bases of the award are clear. The work must have been composed, written or adapted by an author who is a member of the SGAE Foundation; It must have been represented in Spanish territory; and it must have been released, restricted or on tour between December 16, 2019 and March 31, 2021. Whoever obtains the highest number of votes through the platform enabled by the SGAE on its website is the winner. The work of Tonet Ferrer meets all the requirements.
It is not the first time that this award has caused surprise. ANDn 2019, the Valencian company Groc Teatre won this same award with its work Genovese, without having hardly toured Spain. In 2018, another small Valencian montage, Joc of xiquetes from the Bullanga company, also unexpectedly received the award.
Baggage in the microtheater
Tonet Ferrer is a young author and theater director, in 2018 he made a version of Bernarda Alba’s house scored by Federico García Lorca when we have the information. “Before I was doing microteatro,” the Valencian author explains by phone to elDiario.es, while traveling by car to Bilbao to collect the award. “We are very happy. It is an accolade, now I am mounting a new play with the same actors and I hope that starting tomorrow the phone rings a lot, “he says.
Since the event was born, it has lived with the contradictions of being organized by the foundation of a private management company such as SGAE. For example, great musical productions, which are perhaps the works most viewed by the public, cannot compete for these awards. Only members of the SGAE can apply.
“The award is subject to improvement“
If the works awarded by the public and not by the jury have been seen by such a small audience, the credibility of this public award is in doubt and its weight is becoming less every year. Rubén Gutierrez, general director of the SGAE Foundation, clarifies to this newspaper that the choice of this award is explained by “the mobilization capacity of the companies and their environment.” “The vote this year is widely distributed and the one with the most votes has come out. For us, this award makes perfect sense as it tries to link the public with the contest, something that we believe is fundamental. We are aware that we do not reach as many audiences as we would like. We do a strong campaign through networks, we talk with all participating companies so that they can spread it. And, logically, we inform all theaters, companies and producers to move it“, He says the director of the SGAE Foundation, a few hours before the start of the Max Awards.
When asked if, given its lack of representation, the Foundation is not thinking of new strategies or simply canceling the award, Gutierrez affirms: “We have tried to promote it in many ways, through networks, with different strategies, but yes, the award can be improved. And we believe that it is better to maintain it than not to maintain it. “