Silence, we play at Theatre Cerezo, Carmona
On 20 and 21 May 2016, the Municipal Theatre School of Carmona (E.T.C.) performed for its fourth consecutive year at Teatro Cerezo. Even read in Spanish one can assess what the play was thanks to the attractive poster below.
I must confess that this it is the first article where none of the photos posted are mine. Feeling unwell, for once, I just focussed on the acting and play.Knowing that parents and friends of the 20 performers would take photos I felt comfortable. It took two months to identify photos from social networks and to an online magazine from Carmona called ”El Grifo” broadcasting Carmona’s events (www.elgrifoinformacion.com).
In the 1930s Bernardo E. Cerezo dedicated an important share of his Lottery winning ticket to the edification of this theatre in accordance with eclectic style and design of a Spanish architect. For eighty years the theatre has been full almost every day. Sometimes occupied by school children, it also accommodates former Town Criers called “pregoneros” who, since then stopped announcing the many festivities of Carmona in the streets, but in the theatre . It is also used to deliver prizes and for the two weeks of Carnival one can see contests of men called “Agrupaciones,” contesting or criticizing through songs what’s going on in Spain.They share this contest with other famous Andalusian entrants, including the most famous ones from Cadiz.
This theatre has always been abundantly lighted thanks to the dedication of Valentín Rueda Macia, a true Renaissance man who created a fan page in Facebook called “Our theatre”.
For many years the same company (Circuito) has been playing with sound and microphones allowing the actors to talk loudly while being heard by a noisy audience. Mics are also used each year for the performances of the October humour festival called the “Perol”.
The photo above shows parts of its 500 seats during the rehearsals of the play on 19 June. A 200 seats upper gallery has been recently refurbished and can be accessed by a brand new lift, though it remains empty because people of Carmona are not yet used to it.
This shows the new upper gallery with three young actors from the school. I was the only one to use it on May 20th. Alone, sitting in the second row, it was as if the stage was aimed straight to my eyes and the sound was divine. It was an unforgettable experience to be alone, feeling that the play was performed only for me.
‘Killing two birds with one stone’, the upper and lower photos introduce to you to the refurbished entrance hall of the theatre and the student comedians during their vocal and relaxation exercises just prior to playing.
On these two performance days in May, Teatro Cerezo experienced something unique since its existence. It started with beautifully printed tickets plus an exhaustive program which invited the audience to be silent and to refrain from using flash cameras during the play. When, on 21st May, my nine-year old guest asked why he had to keep silent, I showed him the round shaped place and said: “Silence turns the theatre into the “voice cathedral.” This place has been designed for when audience is able to listen to actors speaking without mics.
Ana Ropa from Seville, an actor, designer and producer wrote the script of this play in symbiosis with the students of the Municipal School she directs. Throughout the past four years she has resisted the pressure from those among the audience complaining they couldn’t hear actors. This year in her opening speech she insisted that the audience should keep silent during the play.
She also announced the creation of the Association of Friends of the Theatre (A.T.C.) that allowed, among other things, to be able to invest the revenuesfromtheir performances for the improvement of productions.
She skilfully linked the progress made by the School with the message of hope embedded in the play. By way of sketches from major playwrights, the play “With our best wishes” sent the message that it was possible to fulfil hopes and wishes even under very adverse circumstances.
As soon as the curtain was raised, Teatro Cerezo fell into an absolute silence, an unheard event in this theatre in its eighty years existence!. It was breathtaking all the more that the stage remained in absolute darkness with little pocket lamps filling the stage like stars in the sky together with sound effects such as rooster crows announcing day break. As soon as the twenty actors started talking and moving, I felt my young companion pressing my arm to share how impressed he was. Little by little we discovered an unusual street decor full of homeless people.
Seen like that, under full limelight, this decor is not impressive. But Ana Ropa and the newly born Association, anticipating that the entrance tickets sold for these two performances would cover their fees, hired Pablo Gil Rivera, a stage manager from Seville (sound lighting and stage).With the complicity of Valentin and the voluntary help of Alfonso Avila, the son of one of the actors, was able to play with the lights and to isolate each scene’s illumination. It amazed the audience who were unaccustomed to this while accompanying the transition with sound effects and music.
In addition, and to pay tribute to any and all kinds of theatre, the Association had the collaboration of Isa Ramirez Váquez from Seville (upper photo) to be able to add musical comedy scenes to the play. Ana Ropa’s partner (Ramírez&Ropa), Isa brought her professional expertise to the play as a specialist in music and musical theatre.
These are the twenty actors carefully listening to Ana’s directives during general rehearsals.
On stage is Cesar Guerrero interpreting with humour Ricco in the sketch from the Spanish play “Thieves are Honest People” while young Claudio López is skilfully robbing him under the knowing laughter of the audience.
Thanks to the play of light we move from the front to the rear stage with a scene taken from the classical work of Charles Dicken’s Oliver Twist, with one young delinquent played by Manu Alcántara (2nd year) discussing with the beautiful Iris, Mar Sauceso (1st year). Following a musical transition full of mime and improvisations, the play pays a daring tribute to George Bernard Shawby staging a reverse adaptation of Pygmalion.
Paqui Falcón and her baby in a sling enter through a virtual door and warns theinebriated Angel Serano, who is slouched in a destroyed armchair, and Julio Pastor sitting on the steps peeling potatoes that an “odd lady” wishes to meet them.
Rosa de la Vega then makes a dramatic entrance to explain she would like lessons on how to adapt herself to the life of the homeless that her circumstances obliged her to join.
Darkening the back stage and lighting the front stage again, the audience was taken to another sketch. Inspired by the first Spanish picaresque novel, dating from 1554 “El Lazarillo de Tormes” also inspired Oliver Twist with Señora Fefi, as interpreted by Chari Valencia, who is giving to the young Claudio López a master lesson on how to rob. Jessy(Carmen Jiménez) well made up for the role playing a new recruit was also present.
While the silent audience became accustomed to listen to dialogues, they were swept away by the ultra festive music and by the clear and captivating voice of Mar Saucego singing “Castle in a Cloud”,a musical comedy inspired by Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. Cosette is thereby promoting the first message of hope of the play.I heard Mar sing without a mic during the general rehearsals. She gave me goose bumps. During the two performances with the assistance of a mic, I was unable to refrain from tears.
The Theatre of the Absurd is the other style performed by Lolo :Valérie Dianoux (the blonde, 2nd year) and Lili: Elisa Molina (dark hair, 4th year) playing in Act II of “Waiting for Godot” (Samuel Becket).
It then reverts to Oliver Twist/El Lazarillo to move on through a fine transition of improvisations as another tribute to theatre styles.
Indeed, what better could represent the “classical theatre” than the famous monologue of Electra from Sophocles, as brilliantly interpreted by a very gifted first year student, Carmen Daza (below).
With just enough time to be caught up in the dramatic acclaim, by way of a gracious ballet one table and three chairs are added to the décor. The audience is captured by the entertaining and hilarious sketch “The Restaurant” fromMonty Python to understand how starving young Rosalya, Julia Cuevas (left), curbs her appetite in the company of Loli Falcón (centre, 2nd year student) and teenage Julio Iglesias (right, 4th year).
Here are Manu Alcántara (left who was acting in Oliver Twist), Julio Iglesias (centre) and Andrés Gallardo (right).
The thundering acting of Julio and María Iglesias (left upper photo), Loli Falcón and Andrés Gallardo (right upper photo) also part taking to the sketch made the audience explode with laughter and burst into spontaneous applause at both theatrical presentations.
The play then slowly moves towards its happy ending when Julio Pastor (below) appears elegantly dancing to the French song “Tu es la plus belle du monde” (Mother, you’re the most beautiful in the world).Julio,and the 4th year students represents the end of the generational rainbow of students (10-65 years old). Even more so, Julio is the third generation of the Julio Pastor closely related to Teatro Cerezo. His grand-father also named Julio Pastor who directed it on behalf of the owner founder. He then lived in the building itself, now changed in a bar(el Bar del Teatro). After Mr. Cerezo’s death, the grand father rented it to those heirs being assisted by the actor’s father, although people used to nickname him “Julito del Cine” (“young Julio from the cinema”). This was because during a decade Teatro Cerezo was also used to screen the first commercial films in Carmona.
Little by little all the actors gathered around Julio who wonders why hope and good wishes should be absent from their homeless lives.
The above photo reflects Julio Pastor’s emotion when receiving his 4th year diploma at the school afterthe second performance that took place in the same theatre building, used as a restaurant. He had grown his beard for the play.
The finale of a good theatre play ought to look like a firework. Spurred by the hopeful injunctions of Julio, each actor expresses his or her best wishes. It ends by those of the homeless lady playing Lili in “Waiting for Godot” whose wish was to sing on a stage. She sang“How bid you farewell” that was sung by the rest of the group. (Elisa Molina in the background of the photo and María Iglesias in the foreground).
That was the finale.
The following photos show all the actors with three encores and a thunderous and enthusiastic applause for their first performance. The next day. although only seven entrance tickets had been sold in advance, the stalls were crammed and the actors got a standing ovation and four encores.
It is interesting to note that at the second performance, Ana Ropa had to mention what kind of animaleach actor had chosen to be inspired by in their creative work, because half of the audience hadplaced bets. I give two examples.
Elisa s’est inspirée d’une
Elisa was inspired by a black panther.
Next photo also shows by his gesture how Angel was inspired by the Spanish pure breed of horses to embody Professor Higgins, in his version of “Court of Miracles”.
Well done to all the students to have given such excellent performances.
All were excellent actors with no production resourcesother than offering themselves as collaboration with two theatre professionals. There is no doubt this play could easily be performed again elsewhere.
The Municipal Theatre School Felix Gomez of Carmona benefited from the fact that the Town Hall has contractedAna Ropa for four years in a row. She was able to highlight the personality of each student to turn them into characters able to move and take the audience at the year-end play.
It is rare that theatre schools group adults and children. The outcome is dynamic thanks to the boundless and infectious energy of young actors combined with the thrilled enthusiasm of adults.
Here are all young actors sitting at their separate table for the dinner following the diploma giving ceremony. I am pleased to post a few of them to give you the opportunity to share their enthusiasm.
Claudio, 10 years old, first year and one of the uncontested stars of the show.
Juan Antonio Rodriguez (2ndyear) having the same name as the props manager, his father.
I’ll end by showing this intimate ceremony by the designer of the poster for the play, Valérie Dianoux.
On this last stage photo one can appreciate Ramón Gavira Gordon, in charge of Cultural events at Carmona’s City Hall wearing a suit and saluting.
We are grateful to that school that enabled Teatro Cerezo to finally achieve its title of nobility as “actual theatre” after eighty years existence thanks to the silent support of the audience.