NEO, Barcelona’s alternative theatre festival

The New Open Scenes Festival celebrated contemporary performing arts created in Catalonia. Over five days, NEO opened up new artistic experiences at different theatres in the Catalan capital and presented 15 different theatrical proposals of emergent artists established in Barcelona.

CNA / Javier Domínguez

May 16, 2012 11:01 PM

Barcelona (ACN).- Defined by its artistic director, Jordi Fondevila as a “personalised scenic creation” festival, NEO presented last week, over four days, singular plays created from a very particular point of view. “The artists start creating their works from scratch and build them directly in the scene, that’s why the proposals have a lot to do with their particular way of feeling,” comments Fondevila.

Common arts, such as acting, dance, acrobatics or body language, are complemented with alternative techniques: video, plastic arts or robotics are a normal resource in NEO’s plays. “El Circo de las Penas” (The Circus of Sorrows), for instance, is a mechanically narrated drama that shows the soul expressed through machines built out of objects with memories of other worlds. To tell the public this story, the company Antigua i Barbuda invented the sole inhabitant of this world: a gadget maker who misses the innocent charm of creating objects and now seeks magic in his creations. “The play explains a story through machines which express sensations and emotions,” says Jordà Ferrer, builder of stage machinery and founder the company. He considers that this innovative project “fits the festival’s way of understanding performing arts very well”.

Apart from multimedia and new technologies, the alternative essence of NEO is also presented through a social and political approach. In “Pendent de votació” (Pending vote), the theatre becomes a parliament where, armed with a remote control for voting, each spectator governs the theatre in a hemicycle where the political colours are yet to be defined. “The play is an analysis of today’s politics: it begins as an assembly which becomes a representative democracy and ends up being an authoritarian regime”, explains director Roger Bernat. Roberto Fratini, the playwright, describes this corruption of modern-day politics presented in the play: “the purpose of words is not to convince anyone while things constantly change, driven by unstated powers that won’t even engage in dialogue”.

A great success

According to the Festival’s artistic director, the turnout of the festival has been really positive and tickets for most of the plays were sold out. “We have managed to show this kind of theatre to the general public and now the city’s commercial circuit of private theatres and international programmers will be interested in it,” celebrates Fondevila, who thanked the total support of Barcelona’s institutions. NEO Festival was organised by four public theatres (Teatre Lliure, Mercat de les Flors, Institut del Teatre and La Seca-Espai Brossa), and all performances have been held at these four venues.