Everything is real. Even too much: a lethal lung cancer, live pornography, the testimony of a Syrian refugee who spent several months in jail, the death of a mother ... Overwhelming and excessive, painful and abysmal, there is the reality: about the Season of High Season, the international festival of Girona that takes the pulse of contemporary creation. A creation that in recent years has turned more and more towards documentary theater and that last week attracted more than 100 programmers from 14 countries to Spain.
« I will make myself , which is not easy», warns Alba Pujol at the beginning of this country not discovered that does not let any of its travelers return from its borders (the title is a phrase from Hamlet). Only a month after the death of his father, Alba Pujol sits at a medical office table to talk about him, with him, in an atypical work directed by Àlex Rigola.
To die, to grow old ..., «the only argument of the work», which Gil de Biedma said. If Àlex Rigola approaches in a philosophical way to the death of the father, the visceral Angelica Liddell does it in her own way: from the entrails and the tear, to bare chest (on which she beats again and again while screaming the requiem for his mother, who died in 2018). At the beginning of the year, Liddell left no one indifferent with his transgressive version of The Scarlet Letter and now he confesses in the most intimate A rib on the table. Mother, a crude atonement based on the book she wrote after the death of her parents. "Today, I'm glad I didn't kill you and I could say goodbye without hate," Liddell cries on stage to purge "over 50 years of hate." The artist takes the sacrifice to the limit and she herself undergoes the penance of a Holy Week procession. Taking one of the traditional rites of the Extremaduran town of Valverde de la Vera, Liddell lets himself be tied up like empalaos : on his shoulders he holds a plow rudder held by a esparto rope that wraps his torso and arms. Liddell recites and interprets herself. And El Niño de Elche gives him the reply with a cry of pain that lasts almost 30 minutes and leads to a pig's head. In his personal cross, he displays a baroque folk iconography, with the famous Monte Hermoso headdresses and Extremaduran regional dresses. Huge applause after the only function of Liddell, who will return to Spain in 2020, to the Theaters of the Canal of the Community of Madrid, with the complete diptych: A rib on the table. Mother and Father
Liddell builds his own "epic in search of the country of ancestors: Extremadura" and the Brazilian creator Christiane Jatahy returns to the founding text , The Odyssey , in O agora que dela ("The present that lengthens"), which premiered with remarkable success in the last Avignon Festival. Who is Ulysses today? The immigrant, the refugee . And it is they who read the Homeric verses in desolate places of Palestine, Libya, Greece and the Amazon. 3,000-year-old verses that continue to explain reality. Jatahy fuses the narratives of cinema and theater to create a third space: the here and now of the representation, of the theater. "People live real odyssey," says Jatahy, herself part of a work that is a collective journey. And the young Yara, a Syrian exile, goes through the screen to tell us: «I am not a Penelope. I made the same trip as Ulysses ». There are as many Ulysses as Ithacs. And Jatahy's is Brazil, a country that "exiles and exiles Brazilians, exiles us from our rights." A significant paragraph: the play was premiered at the Salt Theater, the neighboring municipality of Girona that concentrates practically all its immigration; of its 30,000 inhabitants, 40% are foreigners, among which more than 70 nationalities are counted. However, this diversity is not reflected among the High Season audience.
The "voice of society" that Balzac was talking about and that he wanted to catch in his human Comedy cannot be represented today without a smartphone , without cameras. In Kultur , called to be one of the most controversial pieces of the festival, the company The Duke of Torrefiel puts on helmets to the public and makes him enter a casting room. The voiceover of the writer who imagines the scene anticipates what will happen: an actress is presented to a test of a porn movie. And the two protagonists practice an aseptic and dispassionate live sex: close-up sex for mobile and camera. Sex between the walls of the 16th century of the old church and convent of La Mercè, but that in the era of the explicit does not produce a strong impact.
«Documentary theater, related to the social times that are running, has become fashionable throughout Europe. Either a theater that speaks of personal cases, such as death, or collective situations, from immigration to gentrification. It's not something new, Shakespeare already did it. But now it seems almost mandatory, ”explains Salvador Sunyer, director of High Season. The weight of reality also infects the theater.
Àlex Rigola: «Death acts like a mirror»
A priori, it is the most anti-commercial issue: death. «I am passionate about the issues that I do not know. And this work does not dramatize either cancer or death, on the contrary. Death acts like a mirror to look back, to analyze ourselves, ”says Àlex Rigola of 'This country has not discovered that it does not let any of its travelers return from its borders.' In 2018 it already impacted in the High Season with the installation 'Macho Man' on gender violence and now presents a work created in three bands: by Rigola himself, by his actress Alba Pujol and her father, Josep Pujol, professor of Economic History that was undergoing a treatment for his lung cancer. For weeks, between chemotherapy sessions the three talked about the earthly and the spiritual: 180 pages of transcripts that have been reduced to 25.
«If we consider life as a collective fact, not individual or personal, perception changes a lot. We are not a whole by ourselves, ”warns Rigola. In fact, the work is almost a manifesto against individualism. 'This country ...' is a lesson in anthropology, a mirror of today's society in which we talk about neoliberalism, social entropy, spirituality, the destruction of the planet ... And in those dialogues Cioran, Lacan also appear , Montaigne, Gil de Biedma ... «From the field of philosophy and, above all, of poetry the subject of death has been dealt with in depth.
The drive between love and death is a constant in poetry. And in the theater we have tried to mix that poetic with the document, ”says Rigola. Despite the hardness of the theme -Josep Pujol died just a month ago-, the show also has hints of humor, that affectionate and paternal humor, those ironies and understood between a father and a daughter. "The meaning of life is given by the moment of death," recalls Josep Pujol paraphrasing Montaigne.
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