Shakespeare at the Municipal Theatre School F.G. of Carmona: theatre, but not only
On the 29th and 30th May 2015, the Cerezo Theatre of Carmona inaugurated its refurbished balconies with a year-end performance by the Municipal Theatre School of Carmona Félix Gómez with a production of: “In the company of Shakespeare” with 18 performing actors and 25 participants.
It used and faithfully reinterpreted Shakespeare’s original texts, scenes and monologues as threads running though the history from a Shakespeare medley of four tragedies:
Romeo and Juliet (1594);
Julius Cesar (1599);
Hamlet (1601) y
plus three comedies:
A Midsummer Night’s Dream (1595/96),
The Merchant of Venice (1596/97)
and As you Like it (1599/1600)
Ana Ropa the teacher and manager of the School,
created a creative and entertaining original play-within-a-play, like the Russian Matrioskas’ dolls mixomedies, drama, love and conflict and alliances between two families of theatre, the Marqués” and the “Palacios “.
“In the Company of Shakespeare” is a modern and contemporary reflection of the worrying evolution of culture in general and theatre in particular. It is a call for its survival using the same arguments, words, and monologues written over four centuries ago! It demonstrates how contemporary Shakespeare is, with his existential questions of mankind from time immemorial with concepts such as tolerance, empathy, ambition, love, revenge.
The play takes place in the actors’ changing room we see them either in modern dress or costume. There is a happy end to the play with a group song, a declaration of love and a final ironic twist
The great casting by Ana Ropa shows she knows how to maximise and bring out the personalities of each student from the School.
We were surprised to see three women interpret ‘masculine’ roles, such as when Elisa performed Hamlet’s famous soliloquy “To Be Or Not To Be”
Loli (the stage manager: upper photo right) is also “Antonio” in Julius Cesar and
and when Valérie (upper photo left) responds to the criticisms of actors with an urgent call for compassion and humanity, by changing Shylock into a French woman producer in the monologue in “The Merchant of Venice”,.
We had emotional shivers listening to Carmen interpret Lady Macbeth
and Julio Pastor changed into Macbeth.
Similarly with Julius Cesar’s monologue interpreted by Andrés
Two adolescent students, Mario and María played the famous balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet.
Rosa, beautifully dressed as Helena and after having put vigour in the audience
by her wish to keep the handsome Ángel, the Demetrio of “Midsummer Nights’ dream” included the well-known quote: “Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind”.
Valérie, also plays Titania, the Fairy Queen of “A Midsummer’s Night dream”.
She tries to seduce Cesar playing Fondon, a supposedly famous Spanish actor.
The medley of drama and comedy is well reflected by the entertaining scenes of Paqui and Chari dressed and in make-up as the witches in Macbeth.
Ana Mª the servant and tailor of Juliet, performs an opposite role to the one played last year.
Young Juan Antonio representing Orlando (here with the witch)
and Julio Iglesias Oliver (on top of the photo), plays a scene of “As you like it”.
Kevin and Tomas are the stagehands and
Manu and Josemi play the energetic Pucks of “A Midsummer Night”
Here Ana Ropa talks with Valentín and Juan Sánchez the technicians.
I found this year-end play of the Municipal Theatre School of Carmona Felix Gomez so incisive, modern, amazing and joyful that it deserved more than two performances. As with the Tibetans and Mandalas, these two performances rewarded seven months’ work, four hours a week.
“The World is a Stage” [William Shakespeare]
Each one of the numerous municipal workshops offered in Carmona either at the Casa de la Cultura or in the Pensionists’ house share something in common: therapy.
But if in my opinion the fame of a great restaurant is due to its chef, the fame of the Municipal Theatre School of Carmona F.G. is due to the appointment of the Sevillan actress Ana Ropa by the delegation of Culture, Historic Legacy and Tourism of the City hall of Carmona.
During the courses, Ana Ropa has been demanding, assertive but with empathy, trenchant in her comments and very energetic. She not only taught each student to act as an element of his or her personality, but she succeeded in involving five decades and three generations of inhabitants from Carmona to Shakespeare.
It is obvious that her twenty years’ experience as a performer, script writer, stage designer, director and producer must be taken into account. But what also counts are her resolute and positive smiles and her dedication so that each student feels they are someone special.
School members have learnt breathing and moving techniques, non-verbal language and to practice emotional intelligence. They also learn to ask for help, to help each other, to improvise, to focus, to speak in public and overcome fear, to get over shame, control anxiety, and have an awareness of what “acting” was and to improve their self-confidence. They have learnt to exist differently. Shouldn’t that be considered as a super-efficient therapy? “Theatre” seems to be a real way to get out of yourself performing on a stage… Also in life.
Reacting to my opinion, Ana Ropa replied “I do not consider my teaching as a therapy because I am no therapist. There are some specialised Theatre workshops for that. I am exclusively interested in teaching theatre or creating theatrical plays although the group is made of individuals forming a group of personalities working as a team, a crew. Actors work with their own body, voice and feelings: their most vulnerable working tool”.
I am keeping saying that the theatre experiments in Ana’s classes also work as an efficient group therapy. I attended her class once during two hours. She mixed mnemonic devices, reflex testing games, non-verbal and verbal language, creation and even basic Chi Kung exercises…
(See my second post about this School, end of October last year) http://livingincarmonaseville.com/blog/2014/11/03/theatre-school-felix-gomez-in-carmona/
I got the opinion of Valérie Dianoux, a first year student who told me: “Theatre has been the best therapy I could ever dream of in my present circumstances. Among other things, it allowed me to transcend the perception of my image. All the care and support I got confidently awoke my actual “me’”.
Valerie concluded “All this is thanks to Ana and to my wonderful and super schoolmates, whom I now consider as my theatre family”. Ana allowed us to become familiar with and to learn Shakespeare and for eight of us, to play a great scene, alone on stage. You can be wonder that a group of 25 Carmona residents aged between 10 and 70 lived for months “in the company of Shakespeare”.
I would also like to mention another comment from a second year student: “The theatre school saved my life. I feel I am existing!”
From October 2015 to May 2016 the Municipal Theatre School will start its fourth year with veteran actors ready to help newcomers to feel at ease.
When she introduced the play to the audience, Ana Ropa highlighted her attitude of wishing to learn from her students. This is what makes this Municipal Theatre School in Carmona so unique.
In this photo of the last instants of these performances, Ana and the troupe are accompanied by the actor Félix Gómez, who gave his name to the school company of which I feel proud to appear too.
“The rest is Silence”. [William Shakespeare]