The first production of the Barcelona International Theatre project premieres in Freiburg

Theatre director Calixto Bieito, who has developed his career in Catalonia, presented a new play in Freiburg based on the masterpiece‘The great theatre of the world’, by Calderón de la Barca, one of Spain’s best theatrical writers from the 17th century. The show is the first spectacle from the Barcelona International Theatre project, promoted by the production company Focus. The show follows the original work from Bieito’s previous production.


November 11, 2011 10:17 PM

Freiburg (ACN).- Calixto Bieito premiered his last production ‘The great theatre of the world’, by the seventeenth-century Spanish writer Calderón de la Barca,  last Thursday in the German city of Freiburg.The play is the first spectacle included in the project Barcelona International Theatre (BIT), a platform for artistic creation directed by Bieito himself. The BIT seeks to increase the international presence of the made-in-Catalonia theatre. Catalan theatre production company Focus, a conglomerate of nine companies in the artistic sphere, has helped to launch the show. Born in the northern Spanish province of Burgos, Calixto Bieito came to Barcelona at the age of 15. His relationship with theatre started back then and has served as a guide for all the projects he has carried out. Bieito is famous for his iconoclastic style, transforming classical plays into into cold, metal, noisy and uncomfortable modern works. His style has earned him international recognition, and has given him the opportunity to work worldwide. His production of Wagner’s ‘Parsifal’, which showed a bloody and apocalyptic stage montage at the Stuttgart Opera House, or ‘Life is a Dream', his of another Calderón de la Barca’s play are a few examples of Bieito’s philosophy of doing whatever he believes as long as it does not look boring.

This is the second text from the Spanish Baroque theatre writer that Bieito uses. Despite the centuries, the Catalan-speaking theatre director assures that it is “incredibly beautiful and ageless”. “It is a very emotional spectacle full of memories of my Catholic period”, said Bieito. He also added that the contribution of composer Carles Santos, who helped turn the classic play into a contemporary cantata, is “fundamental” for a show that “flows in an extremely organic way”.

How do you describe the staging of the spectacle that you premiered at Freiburg?

It is a very emotional staging, I present my second Calderón, ‘The great theatre of the world’, after doing ‘Life is a Dream’, and altogether it is a journey latest fifteen years. It is a very emotional spectacle full of memories of my Catholic period, because I studied with the Jesuits. Over everything I have said, it is a show, although it may sound harsh, about the meaning of life and how short it is.

Have you chosen this play because it allowed you to remember and reinterpret the past?

There is truth in that, but I also chose it because it has a huge experimental component. I wanted to do it together with Carles Santos and create this kind of experimental poem about birth and death.

What is the contribution of Carles Santos?

It is fundamental. The original play already has a lot of fragments written to be sung and Carles has created his personal music, he knows Catholicism and it is a combination of opera singers, actors and text in Spanish and German. I was surprised because everything flows in an extremely organic way.

Has the fact of dealing with a old play from the 17thcentury made it more difficult ?

Yes, bus the text is incredibly beautiful and ageless. There are a few specific references to the time period, but it is ageless. It is an auto sacramental [a specific Spanish dramatic literary genre that explains the mystery of the Eucharist through allegorical characters] that brings a kind of moral, experimental lesson, which Calderón used to write to ask himself many questions.

The play will visit other important cities such as Paris, New York and Madrid; will we see it in Barcelona?

I don’t know for sure, but I hope it can be put on show in Barcelona. As you know, 80% of my job is done abroad and here it sometimes is not very well known, and I would like this to be seen. It would be an honour for me to be able to share it with the Catalan public.