Plaça del Diamant is "one of the great European novels of the 20th century", says theater director Carlota Subirós. Perhaps for this reason, Mercè Rodoreda's work has been the subject of numerous adaptations. Now she is the one who has adapted it, with Ferran Dordal, and who has directed it, in a great production by the Grec and the TNC. This Thursday opens the season of the Sala Gran, after the premiere at the Montjuïc amphitheater in July. On stage, only one character, Colometa, but played by ten actresses and a musician.
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Is it the most committed piece you have directed, for all the symbolism it entails?
The feeling of challenge has been very strong, because it is a very well-known and loved work, which has had very popular cinematographic and stage versions. This makes any proposal you make enter into comparison, especially with the intimate referent that each one has. Also for the historical experience it portrays and pays tribute to. For many people even today it is their family memory and is part of our identity as a country.
How do you think about adapting to stand out from it?
From the very beginning, we avoided illustrating or realistically staging the spaces and characters that appear there, because we had the feeling that we would always fall short of the imagination that the novel unfolds, with those locked floors of Gràcia . This is the river of a woman's life through the river of her memories, and we decided to put this voice at the center. When you read La plaça del Diamant, you imagine the neighborhood of Gràcia, the streets of Barcelona, the experiences from the Republic to the post-war period and, instead, everything is narrated from the first person of La Colometa.
When it premiered at El Grec, he said he claimed the name Natàlia, over Colometa.
Because Colometa is the nickname given to her at the beginning, but I claim that her name is Natàlia. Based on the decision to look at this figure again, we wanted to present it from a contemporary perspective. We are interested in multiplicity and diversity, and not so much in answering who Colometa is today and pointing out an actress to take over from Sílvia Munt in 1983.
Is that why you had to multiply it?
That adaptation marked the imagination of the character in an almost indelible way and that is why we wanted to shake it up with ten actresses and a musician.
To not put the weight on a single actress 40 more years?
The same, and let's see if we got it right or not. Since the novel is told in the first person, we don't know what Natalia is like. We seem to have a very clear picture of it, and it's never actually described. Also, he goes through many ages of his life and that also appealed to us. In this way, it is everyone's memory, in a collective way. From the beginning the idea arose to make the character resonate through different voices, like a kaleidoscope or, using an image of Rodoreda, like a broken mirror.
How did you choose the ten actresses?
For me it was important to reach the young people of today, but the cast was not an attempt to make a sociological portrait of contemporary Barcelona, because the exercise we could do could hide the history. That's why we focused on women of various profiles. In the tria, there are always connections and complicities. For example, with Alba Pujol we discovered Rodoreda together when in 2008, on the occasion of the centenary, we did a show called Rodoreda, an imaginary portrait, with a very important part of the current team.
They didn't rewrite the text, did they?
We cut it, but we didn't rewrite it. We have not dramatized the situations here. The adaptation is mainly scenographic and musical. That's why many of the actresses can play with the music.
In his version, the objects take a lot of center stage.
Rodoreda explains that he is interested in explaining the intimacy of the characters, their subjective reality, through the objective reality of the outside, so that we understand what is happening to them. We wanted to embody it with these objects in the large white space that is the stage, which the actresses manipulate to make this journey.
When did you read The Diamond Square for the first time?
The first Rodoreda work I read, when I was very young, was Aloma, and it scared me, it was very dark. Maybe that's why I didn't read the other works until I was older, when we prepared the piece around his figure for the centenary.