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GREC FESTIVAL DE BARCELONA 2021
INTERVIEW

Gerardo Salinas
Dear Winnie
Dramaturgia
14/7 - 20:30 & 15/7 - 20:30 

teatre lliure montjuïc
barcelona.cat/grec/dear-winnie
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An homage to the fighting spirit of Winnie Mandela, using music, words and languages in a great multidisciplinary show that speaks to us of resistance, feminism and anti-racism.

Hi Gerardo, thanks for speaking with The New Current, how have you been during these strange Covid times?

 

Hi, the pleasure is mine. It was / is a very rare time. Suddenly everything stopped. Some absurd inertia was evident. But at the same time, many important plans and projects were interrupted. At the Koninklijke Vlaamse Schouwburg (KVS) we decided, respecting the protocols, to continue with our creations. At the same time, we developed a residency plan to support Brussels artists who are not part of large companies and who are therefore in a less favourable situation during quarantines. Also, at a time when finding space became a problem, we invited other artists to work in our facilities. We had people rehearsing even in the dressing rooms. Always respecting the rules. We also create small performances in nursing homes and hospitals. We found it important to be connected with them. Some members of the artistic team were teaching in schools in Brussels, where they could not find replacements to fill their vacancies. In short, nothing could be further from my first impression of immobility. I think we were more active than ever. On the other hand, all actions, old and new, became more conscious. This state of consciousness helped me rediscover the essential character of our trade.

 
Has this period offered you new creative opportunities or inspiration?

 

Yes, I think mainly of two actions. Teaching a school with young people of immigrant origin filled me with energy. Connecting with them and learning together was very inspiring. Another challenge that stimulated my creativity is related to the circulation of international artists. Suddenly, there was a new argument to further thicken the thick borders of Europe. Circulating artists became a risk to health and ecology. This situation was a challenge to carry out SOON a project that we have in the KVS together with partners from Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Uruguay. We created a cooperative platform to present in Brussels, to the public and professionals, a Latin American performing arts program, selected by a team of curators from the region, with their own aesthetic and thematic criteria. The objective of the platform is to rethink the economic and power relations in the performing arts between the centre and the periphery. We had had a successful first experience and the pandemic surprised us by putting together the second. And ... everything stopped. Nobody wanted to think about tours and travel. That is why we began to military the face-to-face meeting with artists from all over the world. We live in a globalised world, in Europe we benefit from the asymmetric commercial relations that we have with the ex-colonies. These activities did not stop and in some cases escalated during the pandemic. In addition, the biggest polluting impact is on commercial activities, not artistic ones. While the presence of artists from these countries, who share their stories and sensibilities in their work, becomes a necessary strategy for the humanisation of regions in which we continue to be connected by the extractive logic of the colony.

In each action or creation in which I participated, I was very aware of the privilege of being able to tell and help tell stories.

 
Have you always had a passion for theatre?

 

I studied literature and my first encounter with 'the theatre', in its most conventional sense, was through the texts, they fascinated me. It seemed to me a form of 'incomplete' literature, waiting for the different bodies and aesthetics to finish being made. In each approach, but at the same time in each presentation, a unique and different version of each play is completed. Generating an infinite universe of possibilities from the same text. But long before, for personal reasons, I discovered the power of performance. I am the son of a disappeared person from the Argentine dictatorship. As a child I was forced to live a kind of permanent performance. It was our strategy to survive. We create characters that we preform in our daily lives. It can be said that my passion for the scenic was born from a vital performance experience.

How did you get into playwriting and become part of the KVS team?

 

I arrived developing a research and experimentation work in the Mestizo Arts Platform (MAP) organization. It is a collective that works on the artistic energy of today's cities. In which demographic developments, migratory processes and new technologies have completely changed the landscape and put into question the universality of the classical repertoire. In this practice, and almost as an action of resistance within the official Flemish art sector, which is very strong but was not very interested in these changes, I launched a new form of dramaturgy: Urban Dramaturgy. It is a form of dramaturgy in which the city and its dynamics are read as a living and perfect text, which we can approach. But not to change it but to try to interpret it, in some way, in the way that, for example, Kabbalists approach their sacred texts. The city with its reality and power as a valuable element in artistic creation.

This movement was generated in the Belgian underground . We were constantly growing and mobilising a larger public each time. In order to continue developing this practice, I decided that it was time to work in one of the big companies in Belgium. And to work with the energy of the new urban , Brussels is the ideal place in Belgium. Michael de Cock, who is the artistic director of the KVS, invited me to join his project to form the new artistic team of the KVS. We had known and worked together for many years. He put together a team with many of us who were innovating in the arts in Belgium. And this proposal in which the new was combined and part of the most emblematic of the performing arts of Flanders was chosen. And here we are since 2016. We also chose urban dramaturgy as a tool for dialogue between the KVS and the city.

What is the biggest mistake you have found around playwriting?

 

I think it was at the beginning of the switch between MAP and KVS. It was not a specific action, but a misreading of the new position. It took me time to understand that the KVS is another type of 'tool', that what one says or presents has another type of impact. It is not that it is better or worse, but that it is another function and place. So I had to learn to deal with the size of the company and to understand what is the unique character of this position that I am in today.


Can you tell me a little more about KVS projects with Catalan and Spanish artists, what do you have to come?

 

We have very good relations with the TNC. It is a relationship that takes some years and shared artistic projects with Carme Portaceli, from the time she directed the Spanish Theatre in Madrid. Together we have produced Mrs Dalloway, Bovary and ' L'homme de la Mancha' . We are participating together in the European project that she designed, Between Lands , on art and democracy. Another ally in Catalonia is the company La conquesta del pol sud. Their references, Carles Fernández Guía and Eugenio Szwarcer have visited us frequently. Eugenio has worked as a set designer on several of our creations. He and Carme are part of our creative family. Another very interesting project is the one we are developing with the director Ester Nadal. She is working with les Mybales, the company of Belgian twins, of Congolese origin, Doris & Nathalie Bokongo. The name of the project is La Vide , we are developing it with the KVS, MAP and different partners in Catalonia. There are many more projects that we are thinking about. Probably an address by Michael de Cock for the TNC. But above all, we really want to meet more artists and share and learn from them.

"I really enjoy developing concepts, but also joining the creative dynamics of others."

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How much has Catalan and Spanish theatre changed in the last 10 years? Are theatre creators pushing new limits?

 

I think the interrelation with Latin American theatre has increased. Perhaps it is something that always happened, but I think that new technologies and the access of more people to travel have intensified this synergy. Without forgetting the active Latin American diaspora in the Iberian Peninsula. This miscegenation seems very interesting to me. On the other hand, relations with central and northern Europe have also intensified, producing another type of interaction and influence. Which is logical and, if it is not very strong, beneficial. Companies like Señor Serrano or Roge Bernat are good examples of this hybridisation.

What do you enjoy most about working with theatre companies?

 

The creation process. The encounter. The way creative communities are created. The more they are sustained over time, the more I enjoy and enrich myself with them.


At what point do you prefer to embark on a project?

 

I like to participate from the beginning. I believe in collective work at all levels. This is not to say that there are not different responsibilities and roles. I mean to gather all the energies and ideas for the common good of the creative group. I really enjoy developing concepts, but also joining the creative dynamics of others. In each case, see what it takes and work to achieve it.


How do you differentiate between what you do and the dramaturgy of a director? When you come to a project if there is already a director, how do you handle it?

 

The main difference between my work and that of the director lies in the position we take with respect to the scene. I position myself a little further apart during creation, without meaning to move too far away. This allows me to discover other dynamics and possibilities. And have the mental space to think all the time about how what we are creating dialogues with the world outside the room. For me, it is very important, if I work with a director or company, that we build a very strong connection, be able to create a common language and, above all, an environment of trust and respect.