Monday, November 28

A beach and a justice sun in a theater

A dog sleeps at the feet of its owner, two boys play ball, someone smears cream on his partner’s back, someone reads, another just rests like a lizard. The image could well be of the Barceloneta beach, but it is of the great room of the Teatre Lliure, the Fabià Puig Server, one of the best equipped spaces in Europe that has modified its conventional layout, with capacity for 700 people, to accommodate is performance which will be active every day for four hours until October 23.

The public, which enters the space in groups of sixty people every half hour, contemplates from above the passing of what could be a day on any western beach. The zenith perspective makes the viewer become, in a certain way, a social anthropologist, an observer of that animal species that is the human being. Suddenly, certain inhabitants of the beach begin to sing. Arias, duets and choirs dealing with the sustainability of the planet, with polluted oceans and destroyed great coral reefs, with unconscious tourism, with climate change, with the exhaustion of modern man subjugated by the labor market. Songs that are the interior monologues of these characters who behave with the greatest civility of the contemporary beach player. Poetic, ironic, subtle, evocative songs. “Acid waves, white foam, rock the boats full of preserves, tourists, fruit and weapons,” sings the chorus. The songs do not disturb the calm day at the beach, everything moves slowly, relaxed, under some sources of hard white light, which falls like the unrepentant summer sun on a space where time seems suspended.

From Kaunas to Venice, and from Venice to the world

Sun&Sea It is the work of three Lithuanian women: the artist and musician Lina Lapelytė, the poet Vaiva Grainytė and the filmmaker and stage director Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė. The three began working together ten years ago with a previous piece, have a good dayanother opera-performance that has also traveled half the world in which through some supermarket cashiers they approached a world of job insecurity and exploitation. These three women grew up in Kaunas, the cultural epicenter of Lithuania. There Lina and Vaiva created a group of noise experimental in adolescence, then they began their studies of music, poetry and theater, but it would not be until Rugilė appeared, trained in theater and cinema, that they were associated. “We wanted to work together when we lived in Kaunas. And we thought that opera could be a genre that could allow us to come together and use each of our abilities. In addition, opera is a genre in which we believe that its full potential has not been explored. thus was born have a good day”, remembers Lina in conversation with this newspaper. “In addition, we were clear that we wanted to work in a very horizontal way, we hated traditional theater, its results and also its hierarchy. For us, creation arises from a space of listening and respect for the other. This makes the processes longer, more tiring, agreement and conclusions cost but… We think of ourselves as a three-headed dragon. We start from an idea, from an intuition, and from there we walk together”, explains Rugilé.

Sun&Sea, saw the light in autumn 2017 in Lithuania at the National Gallery of Art in Vilnius. But it was in 2019 when it hatched internationally. Sun&Sea it was shown twice a week for nine hours a day at the Venice Biennale of Art, in warehouse 42 of the Military Navy of the Venice Arsenal that served as the Lithuanian pavilion. Its hybrid format, where they join performance, opera and dramaturgy, and his aesthetic and poetic capacity, caused long queues to form in Venice. In the end they won the Golden Lion over great artists and pieces like The search of the Mexican Teresa Margolles. After a break due to the pandemic, the piece has already been in twenty-one different countries in less than two years.

Now, the three creators, in addition to managing the world tour of Sun&Sea, try to continue growing in their individual careers. Vaiva Grainytė has just published a book that investigates the different contemporary meanings of happiness, Roses and Potatoes. Lina Lapelytė has presented another opera-performancethis time aquatic, at the Kunstenfestival in Belgium, What happens with a dead fish?, and prepares a new one for Berlin. “I will work with the bells of the city and with the human voice”, she anticipates; and Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė presented her latest film at Locarno, Acid Forest, and is preparing a new work on beauty, industry, standards, and the individual’s comfort and discomfort with their body. “It will end in performance, in a great entertainment event that will twist, turning into something else. And there will also be a film ”, he explains to this newspaper. Now the three of them are between Kaunas, London and half of Europe, but they still want to work together and they affirm that they are already envisioning a new piece.

A powerful poetic and activist hybrid

His work is clearly hybrid, environmentalist and concerned with globalization and sustainability. It is a political and activist art, but it does not fall into the illustrative and declamatory. “The political is not put forward in our work, we do not wave flags or make direct criticism of capitalism. We play with ambivalence and with the poetic. There is criticism, but there is also irony and empathy. We flee from the didactic. We believe that this enables the public to be proactive, that it be they who generate feelings and questions from the piece”, says Lina. “The issues dealt with in the pieces are directly political, but their treatment is not analytical, it is poetic. research for Sun&Sea It has been enormous, the information is there but then you have to treat it, give it a textual, musical, scenic form”, Rugilé says.

In Sun&SeaApart from highlighting the surprising scenic space and the bird’s-eye view that the viewer has, Vaiva Grainytė’s libretto reigns supreme, a subtle text capable of using several registers that feed off each other and generate a strange sensation in the viewer. A feeling that, together with that no time of that no beach, is turning into a sad restlessness for an incomprehensible and unstoppable human race. The combination of poetic texts with texts that bring us closer to the characters, of texts that ridicule or ironize with others where close characters with whom it is easy to identify are presented, is done with skill and sensitivity.

In one text we see how a posh mother is delighted that her son already knows the seven seas and enjoys great landscapes. “What a paradise!” the unconscious sings in English. In another, a complaining protest of how dirty everything is, at the same time complains of a time that no one understands and claims that it is the end of the world. One can even see how the story of a dream due to sheer sunstroke, incomprehensible, is joined with that of a character exhausted by work who sings in a baritone voice that his exhaustion is like “a mammoth, a creature that no longer exists, extinct: it appears in the encyclopedias and in the annals of history, but in life you will never find it”. A polyhedral, polyphonic libretto that the viewer contemplates from above and that, although it takes place in a placid environment, or perhaps for this very reason, lacerates little by little, almost without being noticed. It is this hurtful subtlety, perhaps, the great strength of the piece since, in a way, it acts in the same way that post-industrial welfare societies, focused on the search for joy, act on their citizens. The piece thus generates a low-frequency sound, a dull sound, which invades all the lethargy and placidity typical of a normal day on any Mediterranean beach.

This is how the main space of the Montjuïc headquarters of the Teatre Lliure was inaugurated. In the presentation to the media of the season, Georgina Oliva, director of programming and content at the Teatre Lliure, highlighted the work of redefining the spaces that has been carried out since Juan Carlos Martel Bayod began directing this theater three years ago. A redefinition that this season “is clearer”, explained Oliva. Thus, this large multipurpose room designed by Fabià Puigserver will host international shows this season such as Sun&Sea “that try to bring an unknown theatre, to be discovered”, co-productions with solvent companies or artists from other parts of the Spanish State (this year the work of Pablo Messiez the will to believe that can now be seen in Madrid and the work that Alberto San Juan is preparing on the book by Cristina Morales, easy reading) and, of course, the productions of the Teatre Lliure itself. “They will be dedicated to repertory theater, as is tradition in the history of this theater,” said Oliva. Thus, Martel himself will premiere a barren de Lorca this November, David Selvas will direct a play by David Mamet and Carol Lopez will adapt the novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos for the stage, dangerous friendships. Two very dissimilar lines of programming that the Lliure management team wants to see coexist normally at the Montjuïc venue. Its other headquarters, in the Gràcia neighbourhood, will continue to be dedicated to supporting local creation with names like Alex Rigola, José and his sisters, Atresbandes or the show by Jordi Prat i Coll, Fatimawhich is now on the bill.