Almagro Day 2


Vincente Fuente’s workshop, The Way of Verse;  Almagroff; Juan Huarte de San Juan’s, El Examen De Los Ingenios (An Examination of the Wits).

In addition to the festival in Almagro, there are two, 4 day, workshops for professionals. The one I am undertaking is the Way of Verse lead by a Classical Theatre expert, Vincente Fuentes.
As the workshop is in Spanish and the subject text is in Baroque style language, Vincente very graciously allowed me to join the workshop as an observer.
Most of the participants are charming young actors around 25 who have come from all over Spain to expose themselves to this particular style of Golden Age text and the unique teaching from this Professor. Just to provide an idea of his prominence, he is the verse consultant for the Spanish National Theatre and he translated Cecily Berry’s book, Voice and the Actor, into Spanish.
Fortunately for me almost everyone in the class speaks English but the course is certainly in Spanish and Vincente has made me feel very welcome and has accommodated me very well.
For those of you who have worked with me on productions, you may be interested to know that Vincente and I share the same notion that the human voice is a musical instrument and that lyricism and rhythm are the connectors to the human soul, not only for the audience but for actors as well.
The workshop is taking place in a historical and very rich person’s private Palace which is now a conference center. The internal garden square, beautiful cloisters and gracious and relaxing ambiance is most amenable to the somewhat intense 9-2+ day. Then lunch, siesta ( very necessary in 42 degree heat) and one show at 8pm and another in the major festival at 22.45. You can appreciate that I’ve had very little time for sight seeing or shopping – although the shops here are so far not compelling. A lot of local lace, cane work and pottery on sale, but I have still to discover a fruit shop!
However I must add that shops all close at 2pm till 6 pm so they have not availed themselves of my availability. And it’s been great to meet up with a group of actors to have lunch, go to shows and to do the theatre museums with – even with my appalling Spanish.

The Almagro Festival has an Off Almagro range of productions which consist mostly of young companies looking to explore the classics and Almagro is a good location to do just that. The quality varies considerably, but for me to just see representations of the cannon of the Golden Age in Spanish and in addition, at the Teatro La Veleta, a Theatre Laboratory located in a privately owned Don Quixote cultural park is worth the risk especially at €12. Think of it a larger (150 seats) La Mama situated in the most lovely gardens with cultural memorabilia.

The Juan Huarte de San Juan’s, El Examen De Los Ingenios,(1575) is very interesting indeed. Huarte was a medical doctor who survived the plague and the Inquisition regarding his exploration of what we know as the psychological humours.
Although his work was proscribed by the Inquisition, there were many black market publications of his work and it continued to have the credit it deserved in introducing, psychology, physiology and emotional awareness. Sadly this production was not the greatest I’ve seen on these travels, but one has to support youth and to see the play performed.
It was good to see the stock characters, the old man with a mission, a troupe of actors who help him in his investigations. A daughter who pleads the case of the church against the cause of science and somehow they all end up happily. I’ll see if I can find a reasonable translation of this work, to become more familiar with the ins and outs of the plot.


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