Category Archives: Grec Festival

Day 19 Barcelona and Ubu Roi

 

imageMy final day was spent at Parc Guell and with this visit all my long held desires to explore Gaudi were realized. Again whimsy and practicality are forged with nature and this beautiful location captures the cool harbor breeze that eludes the town below.  Gaudi, greatly informed by the ancient Greeks, has made our world a more beautiful and happier place.

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With a few hours to go before going to the theatre, I decided I really should try to do some shopping and so I started along the Ramblas only to find the last thing on my bucket list, the Gran Teatro Liceu and I was able to join the final tour of the day.image

It really is a superb opera house in the Italian style. Privately owned for generations, it is now in the hands of the government. Its most recent refurbishment following a fire in the 1990s, has improved the acoustics, the staging, rehearsal and dressing rooms and made the previously exclusive grand reception area available for all patrons. It’s a lavish and very appealing theatre.

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And finally after a sangria and a sit down it was time to find the Teatre Lluire on Mont Juic. I never did get to do any shopping. image

As I walked amongst the charming buildings of this arts precinct to get to the theatre, I discovered the Barcelona Institute of Theatre, an establishment that has always fascinated me in that it has a specific charter to teach, research, conserve, promote and innovate Catalan performing arts. It has also hosted many significant, international theatre studies conferences.image

imageNot knowing what sort of theatre is housing Ubu Roi, I’m astonished to find myself in the 1929 Palace of Agriculture, also built for the World Fair, now with a 2000 seater conversion in high Barcelona design. Even more astonishing is that I’m in the front row.image

And the play is also astonishing. With a fine pedigree coming from an invitation from Peter Brook, Cheek by Jowl created this production in co production with The Barbican, London.

Presented in French with Catalan surtitles, this is French high art in what I would expect from  La Comedie-Francaise. Jarry’s, Ubu Roi (1896) is always open to extraordinary interpretations and while this was salon style farce in a proscenium arch theatre, it was not so much the interpretation that was astonishing but the performances  particularly of Mere and Pere Ubu. However can I describe their energy and ability to turn on a sixpence? However can I even imagine what the rehearsal process must have been like to accomplish this level of slickness and how did the director know/ imagine what these people were capable of? How did he take them to those places? What an extraordinary accomplishment.

And please remember that I’m seeing this in a language I only just understand, so for the most part I’m missing the text and seeing French chic dissolve into the madness of vulgarity and scatology and back again. Really, for acting and production, this show takes the prize on this trip. Cheek by Jowl has presented a wonderful range of classics and this is no exception. I think there were at least 20 curtain calls. The audience went wild for it and so did I.image

What a wonderful note on which to end this tour.My sincere thanks for all comments, tweets and follows. It’s been a joy to stay in touch.

The next tour? Same time, same station, 2015.

Please go to http://www.alltheworldsastagetheatretours.com for a full itinerary and to register your interest to See the World & See World Theatre. It’s a great experience.

In theater, there is nothing to understand, but to feel.
Louis Jouvert
French actor and director.

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Barcelona



Day 17 BARCELONA AND THE GREC FESTIVAL

imageArriving late in the evening from Madrid, in the morning it was great to find how conveniently my hotel is situated among the arts centre of Montjuic and many of the cultural sites of the city. All within easy striking distance once I got my Metro ticket and my bearings. With several objectives to round out my previous Barcelona experience, this visit was planned around the festival, followed by sightseeing of the National Theatre of Catelonia,  Gaudi, the Gran Teatro Liceu, the L’Auditori and then some. image

The festival is so named after the Teatro Grec, an ampitheatre also located on Montjuic and while it specializes in contemporary theatre, its international reputation made it a must see for me.

The exciting thing about Barcelona, is that you can turn a corner and there is some significant monument or building that you’d read about or always wanted to see.

Simageo for me, on day one, it turned out to be the Bullring and the Bullring Museum. Why wouldn’t one important cultural activity be in the same area as the others? And I stumbled across the bullring on my way to find the NTC. image
Both were equally impressive. I found the theatre workshops before I found the theatre and then discovered that the whole thing takes up a block in the area devoted to culture. It is huge! Also en route I found the Auditori for music events   – again huge, with a terrific horse, a restaurant where the arts crowd eat, and where I had my first Barcelona speciality, fideula, and the Barcelona design district, enfant,bn.

The spires of  Sagrada Familia are  very present on the landscape so I jumped on the metro to make a recce and after seeing the queue for admission decided that this would require a dedicated, early morning excursion to actually get into the basilica in under an hour or three.

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So that was day one, rounded off by a production of Pinter’s Old Times at the Sala Beckett in a very elegant part of town. image
How to get there? Two metro changes and a walk…I didn’t think so and so more I added to my ownership of Barcelona taxis.

image The Sala is cute, very cute, but the playing area is very challenging and so was Pinter for the Spanish cast. Working  on a raised stage, running the width of the room, our eyeline was at crotch level with the three actors and their closeness to the ceiling was very disconcerting.image

I love Pinter and I think that playing this one on the floor with the audience raised around the actors, might have been an improvement. In other words we all  would have been in their space retracing our old times.
The Sala Beckett is dedicated to experimental theatre. It provides space and courses for young writers,  and specifically promotes contemporary drama, and it was certainly worth the effort of two taxis.


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