Theater and cinema under the scourge of the pandemic

Theater and cinema under the scourge of the pandemic

Theater and cinema under the scourge of the pandemic


Gradually, in these days of September, that is, in the traditional dates of cultural rentrée, it has been normalized in Madrid -¿se may say so – the activity of cinemas, theaters, halls exhibitions, auditoriums, festivals … With the outstanding and challenging exception of the March Foundation, which postpones the opening of its doors until January, for now . Everything arrives in a discreet tone, with delayed hunger and also with the recovery of proposals that were scheduled for the spring and that were frozen by the pandemic. But it turns out that, in Madrid, when everything starts again, the shadow of its end looms over the threat of normality. Are we in the first days of a situation of rebirth of the usual cultural activity or, at the same time, in the last? A reflection is required, a preliminary question, before the worsening of the pandemic in the capital. All cultural venues have reduced capacity. The mask is mandatory inside. Spectators are separated -safety distance- by empty seats. In some theaters and cinemas – in the María Guerrero and in the Doré, for example – the temperature of the attendees is taken at the entrance and the obligation to disinfect their hands with hydroalcoholic gel is indicated, which is dispensed at various points in the premises . To prevent crowds in the corridors, the theater staff directs a staggered exit of the spectators at the end of the performances. The idea is repeated, under these measures, that Culture is a safe place .


But we are living very worrying days and hours, with the intensification of the disease and with disconcerting and intolerable disputes and contradictions between those responsible – if they can be called that – politicians of the Community and the nation. Inhabitants of confined areas cannot travel to other areas to attend cultural events, nor can the rest of them travel to confined areas for the same purpose. While waiting for what seems to be more radical measures, it is recommended to all of us that we do not make unnecessary trips around the city. Is it necessary to go to the cinema or the theater and everything else? What to do? The general public, thanks to capacity restrictions, gives the rooms an appearance of a certain normality. But there are also preventions, withdrawals and distrust. In theatrical premieres, for example, I have noticed the absence of regular guests. What will happen in the next few days? Is this all going to go backwards? Whether or not more drastic measures are taken for all citizens of Madrid, and given that the recommendation, at least, will continue to be not to move, does it make sense or is it correct to continue commenting on the cultural developments that require the presence of spectators?


I have seen at the Valle-Inclán Theater (CDN) the second and third parts of La pira , the triptych of short pieces -at the same time, three for each performance- that Alfredo Sanzol ordered urgently to nine playwrights -at 10, in actually, six authors among them – during the hard days of confinement. These performances -which ended yesterday- have meant the rescue for the face-to-face public of the functions that were broadcast in streaming and could be seen online until mid-July. The shock, The distance and The uncertainty are the successful titles of each of the parts of the trilogy, which, of course, deals with the pandemic and its effects. It does not make sense to summarize here, at last, the content of these nine works -of about 20 minutes each-, but it does make sense to ponder some things: the generous and quick reaction that theater has and usually has -before other artistic manifestations- to offer us the hunch of reality and the evidence of the emotion that one feels – I alluded to this in my column on Friday – when seeing real life, always comical and dramatic at the same time, on a stage, with the irreplaceable closeness and truth -and vibration- provided by the actors. I sensed that the audience was appreciating this with loud and endless applause. I couldn't see the pieces of The Shock . Of the rest, with a medium-high average, I especially liked the texts of Juan Mayorga, Lucía Carballal, of the Andrea Jiménez / Noemi Rodriguez and Pablo Remón tandem , these last two (three) notably inspired and successful in directing their own works. .


The success and critical reception of Verano en December (2012) has led Carolina Africa to release with the same company, La Belloch, Autumn in April at María Guerrero, a sort of second part. Tragicomedy -more comedy than tragedy- about family, motherhood and the discomforts derived from the challenge of finding a proper role and a proper place in life, the play focuses on women, a mother and her four daughters, with the men who are related (or were related) with them in off , because, in fact, they tend to be absent. Each of the daughters has her problems, orchestrated by a mother as loving as traditional, unable to hit the mark, meddlesome and clueless, excellent Pilar Manso . The destabilizing pregnancy of one of the sisters undoubtedly shakes the waters of the family and brings out the latent tensions in each and everyone. Africa dominates the dialogues and the situations (and the psychology of each character), and with this she moves beautifully in the alternating rhythm of events, between pathos and humor, providing imaginative resources to the staging and seducing the actors. viewers on a border line between the infallible comedy of customs and a theater of greater dramatic depth. The public is easily recognized, identifies as their own or close to what happens on a stage full of sentimentality and amusing ravings, retains for themselves the tragic underside of each of the characters and enjoys the beauty with the brilliant cut, preparation and presentation of the piece of reality that is offered.


Oskar Alegría presented his second film, Zumiriki , on Friday at the Cineteca, which was not for nothing received by the Venice Film Festival last year and which can still be seen – check schedules – tomorrow and the day after in the same room. There you if you miss it. The reader will think that I am exaggerating if I say that it is one of the films that have excited and moved me the most for decades. And you will think that I exaggerate even more – if possible – if I say that it is, much more than a movie, a total and complete work of art. I trust that saying this will not hurt you. Alegría lived alone for four months in a wooden cabin on the bank of a river near Pamplona, in the middle of the forest, in front of a small island where he played as a child -now flooded by the waters- when he spent the summer and spent time in a house his parents had on the opposite bank. With several cameras he was filming day by day and night by night his daily life as a modern -It is a saying- Robinson. But, much more, he was building his film not only with images, but also with drawings, photographs, old films, words written in notebooks and blackboards, objects, animals … And that runaway cow whose elusive gaze aspires as fullness is ambitious . The result is a great literary and visual poem, an intimate notebook that, for me, is substantially a journey back to childhood, an excursion through time and nature to defeat death, perpetuate the love of the father, the family, the land, the cinema and the word. To the life. Exciting beyond belief, full of ideas, discoveries, surprises, humor, greguerías and visual and verbal haikus , Zumiriki is a construction prodigy in which Oskar Alegría's intellectual, creative and emotional talent result in a film of love and adventure, yes, humanistic and profound that contains practically all the arts and, at the same time, overflows them all. Follow the trail to Zumiriki – in Basque, “the island in the center of the river” -, you will necessarily hear about it. And, finally, to see how the patio is coming next Monday – shock, distance, uncertainty – also for culture.

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