With all the experience we had acting in the streets, La Cubana went back to the four walls of the traditional theatre set, but in a very special way with a show based on The Tempest, by William Shakespeare.
The fundamentals of the show, were the need to break with the theatre conventionalisms through the “game”, the decoding of the theatrical spaces with the audience participation and the taking on of the absurd, all to be able to create a new theatrical experience.
The beginning of the show didn’t wake up any suspicions. We could see some actors reciting better or worse their text, a stage with a post-modern design, a very distinguished wardrobe design, etc. But little by little, the tempest enforced by Prosperus to try wrecking Antonio’s ship, his brother Antonio, usurper of the throne of Milán, sets off to reach a point were clearly transcends to the audience. The sound effects of thunders begin to get mixed up with what seems to sound like a real thunderstorm outdoors. From then on, the audience entering the theatre came utterly wet. There was no doubt that out there, in the street, was raining.
The situations starts getting worse. There is water dripping from the roof, there are electric short cuts and the theatre staff try to deal, as much as they can, with a situation going downhill. The performance is all of a sudden cancelled to allow the Red Cross to get up the stage to try explain to the audience what is really happening: a cold and unexpected rain drop, has provoked chaos in the city. It’s raining heavily outside and no one is allowed to go out. The Red Cross gives the audience the appropriate instructions for a survival operation until someone comes to rescue them all. The theatre is equipped to carry on with the situation for another three days and the theatre staff, the actors and the technical staff have been trained to undertake any kind of survival operation.
The audience is provided with a waterproof covering, and they will also have some quick salvation lessons. All sections of the theatre building become instruction areas. The audience move around from one room to the other, as they witness the heavy rain outdoors. At the end they are rescued by a very modern salvation army who, before they let anybody out, choose the best good-looking couple and introduce them inside an inflated plastic submarine, a kind of a modern version of Noah’s Ark, since if the rescue operation fails, at least the human race would be perpetuated.
The audience is let out with the waterproof covers, going through what looks like a motion picture heavy rain effect, at all times manoeuvred by the actors, where beside the water, there are wind effects; dry leaves floating around and the lightening and thunders elaborated by a quite traditional and rudimentary stage machinery. Once the last person is out, The Tempest concludes.
PREMIERE: April 1986 Teatre El Retiro, Sitges, within the International Theatre Festival.
PLACES WHERE IT HAS BEEN PERFORMED: Sitges, Sant Pere de Ribes, Sevilla, Albacete, Torredonjimeno, Hellín, Avilés, Pamplona, Tàrrega, Logronyo, Barcelona, Madrid, Girona, Lleida, Majadahonda, Algesires, Reus, Torrevella, València, Almeria, Oviedo, Terrassa, Sabadell, Santa Coloma, Rubí, Valladolid, Cadis, Berga, L’Hospitalet, Sant Just Desvern, Balaguer, León, Burgos, Huelva, Sant Feliu de Llobregat, Manresa, Cornellà, Londres, Ales, Aurillac, Olot, Palència, Alacant, Cardedeu, Baiona, Figueres, Bordeus, Basauri, Santurce.
THE AUTHORS: Jordi Milán, Josep Ma. Perea and Vicky Plana.
Josep Antón Celdrán
*Carles Candel substituted Jordi Milán in some performances.
DIRECTOR: Jordi Milán
Music and effects: Andrés Lewin-Richter
Stage design: La Cubana
Wardrobe: La Cubana
Make-up: Joan Alonso
Special Effects: La Cubana
Light design: Fontanals
Light and sound manager: Nani Valls
Inflated artificials: Quim Guixà
Graphics: Raúl Pascualí
Technician: David Lanau
Stage management: Xavi Roca
Due to the huge stage craft, the fact that we had to adapt our play depending on the space we performed in, and given to the huge amount of water that we used for the show, many anecdotes occurred every were we went. We must mention though, the happenings that took place in London, within the L.I.F.T. Festival. We had around ten performances to do, all in the Sadler’s Wells Theatre. All seats sold out before we started. We could only do the premiere. To make a long story short, we should go back to the English Stage rules, based only on their own experience with the theatre activity. In essence, they had no precedents for a show like ours, and thus they needed to invite some theatre experts in. Heavy epic sessions to reach an agreement. +
Among the funniest proposals of all, we want to mention the following:
1st: Once the lights were to be turned off to announce that there was chaos in the city, simultaneously we should make a banner announcement saying: “what you are being told is part of the show”
2nd: Up near the end of the performance, when we were to let everybody out, to go through the faked heavy rain, we should alert the audience saying: “If you wish to get wet go this way, if not, take the other way out”
3rd: At the end the actors used to go out to greet the audience from the street. That couldn’t be due to some legislation problems, as for until now, they hadn’t had to deal with a show that started indoors and ended outdoors. What we agreed on was: “Don’t worry, the actors are not going to go outdoors, they are going to greet the audience from the entrance, the windows, etc. They acceded to it.
However, at the end, when we reached an agreement, ten days had gone by, and we were left with a very annoying feeling of disappointment.