A Barcelona full of theater, music, dance, and circus
The Grec Festival opened its doors this weekend to a total of 102 performances, including one that tells the story of Catalan and Japanese chefs Ferran Adrià and Hiroyoshi Ishidam
Greece, the Mediterranean, travel, and immigration are the main themes at this year’s Grec Festival in Barcelona. The festival opened its doors this Saturday with the performance 'Programa Mixt' (‘Mixed Program’) from Jacopo Godani’s Dresden Frankfurt Dance Company, which is “one of the best dance companies in Europe,” according to festival director Francesc Casadesús. On Monday, the emotional story of chefs Catalan Ferran Adrià and Japanese Hiroyoshi Ishidam premieres. The Grec Festival, which is named after its main venue, the open-air Teatre Grec theater, built for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition, includes 102 different performances in a total of 412 shows. 40 of the acts are theater, 43 are music, 15 are dance, and 4 are circus. 27 performances at the Grec are premieres and there are 32 international productions. The Grec Festival lasts the entire month of July and has a budget of €3.3 million, €300,000 more than last year.
The festival’s program also includes prominent names such as flamenco dancer Israel Galván, singer Mayte Martín, Italian musician Vinicio Capossela, Catalan band Mishima and musician Joan Miquel Oliver. In addition, there are theater performances such as com Camus’ 'Calígula', directed by Mario Gas; Stefan Zweig’s 'Beware of Pity' directed by Simon Mcburney, and Wajdi Mouawad’s 'Inflammation du verbe vivre' and 'Les larmes d'Oedipe (Des mourants)'.
Among the first week’s premieres at the Grec Festival in Barcelona is Kaiseki Teatre’s multidisciplinary spectacle ‘El tigre de Yuzu’ (‘The Tiger of Yuzu’) directed by Roger Julià. The play, which premieres this Monday, is the story of the relationship between two chefs - Catalonia’s Ferran Adrià and Japan’s Hiroyoshi Ishidam - their restaurants, El Bulli and the Mibu, and Western and Eastern cooking. Eight actors explain their story in a scenography representing the places where the real story took place. The set blends together video art, music, and audiovisual effects. The play explores the fine line between cooking and art, and runs from this Monday until Wednesday at the Mercat de les Flors.
The two chefs: Adrià and Ishidam
Adrià and Ishidam first met in Tokyo in 2002, during Adrià’s visit to the city in which he was invited to Ishidam’s restaurant Mibu. This restaurant in the centre of Tokyo only serves eight people at a time and the menu is based on stories and legends from Japan. Adrià was soimpressed by Ishidam’s restaurant that he then invited the Japanese chef and his wife to eat at his restaurant El Bulli. It was the first time the Japanese couple left Japan to go to Catalonia, and Ishidam was astonished by the experience at Adrià’s restaurant. According to Roger Zanuy, a member of the production of the play, Ishidam’s clients at his restaurant in Tokyo told him that things had changed in his cooking after meeting Adrià and that “he had rejuvenated.” Ishidam decided to give Adrià a week of his cooking in Roses for El Bulli’s clients. At the performance, “the past meets the future,” Zanuy said.
“It was the first time that Western gastronomic culture had a dialogue with Japan"
Ferran Adrià · Catalan chef
Ferran Adrià said that his visit to Japan in 2002 was iconic. “It was the first time that Western gastronomic culture had a dialogue with Japan. It had never happened before,” he explained. Adrià admitted that understanding Japan “is very difficult, it cannot be understood. It is such a different culture that you cannot understand it unless you go live there for many years.” Adrià pointed out that the theatre company did the show entirely on their own terms. “We haven’t said anything at all, because what I like about creating is the freedom.”
Hiroyoshi Ishida, who will be at the premiere together with Ferran Adrià, said that it was unforgettable meeting the Catalan chef. “Just seeing his expression made me feel something nostalgic. I was very surprised when I saw Adrià’s kitchen for the first time.” There was a before and an after, he recognized. The idea is that the performance will travel around the world starting in Tokyo before traveling to different corners of the globe.