The pandemic was a forced break in everyone's life, but before that the theater director Glòria Balañà already had to make another, individual one, due to illness. This led her to think about the pause, about the moment when everything is interrupted and everything starts again from another point, and from there two productions arose: the monologue Tot el que passarà partir d'ara, which was a success in the Teatre Lliure in April; and Els ossos de Montaigne, which opens this Wednesday at the Fundació Brossa - Center de les Arts Lliures.
Starting from the same premise, Balañà has come up with two very differently made pieces. In the first, it had the dramaturgy of Joan Yago, and now it is Sadurní Vergés who signs this production that premiered at the Grec. La Vanguardia attends one of the rehearsals.
“Montaigne's remains were found in 2019 in a Bordeaux basement, and that is what makes him introduce this idea of a pause,” Balañà explains. Everything stops and, at the beginning of the work, the public enters through the old Seca building, which coincidentally is also from the 16th century, where some archaeologists excavate the remains of Montaigne. One of the actresses picks up a painting, The Angelus by Millet, which also has that sense of pause, of stopping to pray, and they move from the 21st century to the 16th century, to the theater itself, where the production continues inside a castle, because Montaigne confined himself for ten years in his to write his Essays ”.
Balañà recounts that the angelus bells are the ones that accompany this passage of centuries and that, then, the public sits in the seats and puts on headphones to listen to the philosophical and poetic texts that they have chosen to illustrate this pause. “They are texts by Pascal, Plato, Žižek, Sontag, Cage..., that make us travel through time”.
For the production, Balañà has two dancers and an actress: they are the company UnaiUna, made up of Laura Lliteras and Marina Fullana, and Daniela Brown. “The project to explore pause, silence, rupture, individual or universal, began with the idea of bringing philosophical texts to the stage, and I started doing it with Anna Maria Ricart, who was unable to continue. I continued alone and finally the playwright Sadurní Vergés was added”.
“An article by Franco Bifo Berardi made me understand that this could be very theatrical,” continues Balañà. And we incorporated chess, which also symbolizes the pause to think, which refers to death and which was the game of the court and intellectuals. There is a beautiful painting from the period, The Game of Chess, by the Italian painter Sofonisba Anguissola, in which two women play chess and a sister and a servant watch the game, and it has served as a gateway to explore the action. ”.
Balañà has also had the voice, among others, of Alex Brendemühl for the texts that the public hears and that are said in several languages. “I recognize that it is a demanding spectacle for the spectator, but it is a proposal that enters through the senses. The goal is for the public to be able to take a sensory journey and take away beautiful reflections related to death, love, illness, the value of silence... ”, he concludes.
Catalan version, here