The Canarian director Nacho Cabrera premieres at the Cuyás Theater on December 10 and 11 ‘Madre’, the latest production of La República, inspired by the text by Bertold Brecht. The company delves in a special way into the situation of women in war processes, as the perfect victim who is raped or murdered, and in this work it gives visibility to the Sahrawi people so that their struggle is not forgotten.
Why do you decide among all the extensive dramaturgical production of Bertold Brecht for this particular text?
Historically, Brecht is one of the leading authors of Teatro La República. Now comes Mother Courage that was always hovering in our heads. We have the actress who supports this wonderful text, Lili Quintana, and the conditions are met by the Cuyás Theater, the Agüimes City Council and the distribution assumed by Acelera Producciones. Furthermore, we understand that the time is right if we attend to the resurgence of the silent and deaf war that is being waged in the sister lands of the Sahara. It is a great challenge, but above all, there is a human need to face this reading of the classic so necessary in our days.
It is still curious that La República has gone, overnight, from comedy to drama in its last two productions: De Mitad y medio a Madre. How is this remarkable change in the conceptual register metabolized from the direction?
For a while that was our way of operating: balancing from drama to comedy. Mitad y Mitad is not the first comedy we produce, although it has been a long time since we faced one, although it is true that the type of comedies we face are very acid and corrosive. For a director it is very healthy to go through the different genres without losing identity. Personally, traveling from one side of the theater to the other oxygenates me, without considering them extreme, but the same vision from different vantage points.
Tell me about the characters played by the cast chosen for the occasion.
Of the nine versions that the text has above, many characters were left along the way to finally stay with Anisa Brahimi, who masterfully interprets Lili Quintana, Toni Báez with various characters, including the alfaquí, who somehow shows the clear traitor to the Sahara and that goes to Morocco and on whose back lies the most military reading of this version and, finally, Saulo Valerón, who in addition to being his second incursion with Teatro La República, dares with the roles of the children of Madre Coraje , Caraqueso and Brahim
What would you like the audience to ask themselves after leaving the performance?
That he could reflect in a committed way what can be done from the closest environment of each one in the face of the clumsiness of war. We do not want anyone to feel sorry for them, or even to get excited about what is happening in their life, we look for immediate answers to what is happening around us. Perhaps it is a chimera, but we do not give up in our efforts.
What keys of the text have you been interested in emphasizing with the actors or transferring more neatly to the stage?
We have discarded some readings that also seemed very interesting to us to finally stay with the one that for us is the central idea: the alliance between the market and war. And at the same time we wonder, how does a war break out? At what exact moment is a trigger pulled, howitzers are thrown, the first enemy soldier is slaughtered? These are the first two questions we ask the viewer during the show. We wanted to delve even further into an anti-war drama, and show that long before drawing the gun to shoot, the war has started without our barely realizing it.
«From the Canary Islands we must bet on solving the Sahrawi conflict and giving it dignity»
How would you define Mother?
As a show that deserves to be seen fundamentally because of the structure and the idea that Brecht gives us, which deserves to be seen to put in the forefront those events that they deliberately want us to forget.
The production addresses as a background the violent conflict over the occupation of the Sahara by Morocco and the dignity of women. It is an openly committed theater as a legitimate and inalienable sign of the identity stamp of The Republic.
Effectively. In the 26 years that we have been in history, we have tackled border shows where we have faced from the great dramas of society, to the smallest and everyday ones. It is not the first time we have faced war on the scene. We already did it not NWC (No War Cabaret) and San Juan, who also touched on the subject in a collateral way, or with The Story of a Soldier. This time we focus on a specific conflict. Today there are still large bags of very conventional and visible theater in which we do not move very comfortably. In our initial ideology 26 years ago we said that we had arrived to raid the windows where those untouchable texts were. Today we continue to do the same underground and opposition theater, a committed theater away from the pamphlet and propaganda. We have had to reinvent ourselves over and over again, but without losing our essence, without betraying ourselves. We are children of a stubborn profession, with eternal iron ill health.
Do you think that this commitment also requires a ‘different’ and sensitive viewer on the other side of the stage?
Would be ideal. The theater must also in some way make apostolate of what it believes in. The stage is a platform to defend rights and freedoms. Our mission is to work for any viewer, for everyone, even for those who do not share our vision. From meeting different ideas we constantly feed ourselves.
The playwright Juan Mayorga once pointed out that he defends the theater that leads us to discover the beast that inhabits us. Do you share this opinion?
Absolutely. It is impossible not to agree more with Juan’s idea. We have shared long gatherings about some meetings, or preparation for a show of his that we put on in 2008, Hamelin. And that’s the other part that truly amazes us, discovering ourselves and our inconsistencies. We are talking about the viewer, but it is also essential to talk about what makes us change as human beings, those of us who inhabit a stage. We still marvel when we feel that a text or an interpretation changes our perception of things. The theater puts us in front of a mirror to discover and expose our limitations and our fears; to help us understand the world, its taboos, its metaphors and the truths that we do not want to see.
An old question: if the aim is to combat indifference with the theater, do you think it achieves it, that, indeed, the theater can achieve that?
The conscience must be fed show after show, in the same way that the house must be thoroughly cleaned every week. Nothing remains unchanged. A conscious viewer today, easily tomorrow for various reasons, stops getting greasy and ends up justifying what in another time would never have imagined. But that spectator is not only the one sitting in the stalls, we are also active spectators with the particularity that we are up on a platform in front of them.
Are you concerned about the situation in that territory so close to the Canary Islands and the forgetfulness that has historically exerted since the date of the occupation?
It worries us a lot and we feel very close. We understand that we must push for the armed conflict to end in Western Sahara, but to do so in compliance with international law and giving the Sahrawis what has been taken from them for so many years: their land. From the Canary Islands we must bet not only to solve the conflict, but to give it with dignity. Art, and particularly theater, must be a loudspeaker for a conflict that is more alive today than ever, in a forgotten area of the planet. Spain has abandoned its obligations to this territory and we, as free citizens, cannot remain with our backs to the injustice of our neighbors. The Spanish State has a historical responsibility that it must face. In the end, the best formula to tell things and for the viewer to come back is to make a quality theater.