It would be necessary to begin by specifying aspects of the subject. Most of what we can call new trends, have been with us for years. Some hovering and reappearing while waiting to assert themselves and others, more fortunate or better directed, already consolidated. The theater reflects or tries to reflect the way that human beings have to see the world. In addition, with more force in recent years, it seeks ways (words, actions, spaces, contacts …) that change the way we see that world of ours. Modes that adapt, on an equal footing, to what the world lets see of itself in its constant change. Trends that should be kept in mind and remembered.
How should we start? Perhaps in another time it would be appropriate to start with a logical, ordered relationship and separating functions. It would have started with the authors of the text, followed by the directors who decipher it, the actors who interpret it, the various artistic and technical trades that cover it …, up to the viewer who receives it, and hopefully, with the desire to be caught and seduce by the end result.
Today, the various functions tend to tear down the old watertight compartments. It is not uncommon for anyone who moves in this world, seduced by a real human event, or a theatrical text or another literary genre, …, manage, promote, translate, adapt and strive to bring it to the end. They take on the task alone or seek complicity, but they go ahead. It would be better, perhaps, to see together …
Authors, directors, actors …
There have always been initiatives that have come from different points, but today the old borders are blurred and tend to be less rigid. Of course, it is a constant, they confront their ideas more and continue to face risks.
The proliferation of theater schools, official and private, the greater ease and, above all interest, of completing training in several of the own country or outside it, the promotion at university level of some of their studies; the creation of theatrical writing schools, and the long tradition of some theatrical groups in this task … are all calls for creativity, latent in the human being. All this has paved the way for show professionals who are increasingly prepared and with more fields for creation.
Years ago, too, that the young authors found more facilities (never all the desired), to show their works in stable theaters. It is noteworthy that, although still slowly, the entry of women into the different creative and technical fields of the theater is a fact. The authors have never been absent, more or less disguised according to the times; Today women directors, choreographers, scenographers often. Translators proliferate, there is no shortage of composers and musical performers, alone or in the increasingly frequent orchestras with live music. There are very interesting promoters and promoters of alternative projects, creators in dance-theater, in performances …
Sometimes the list of the technical team may seem excessively detailed in the program of a show, but it is a symptom of their integration before the public and, in that team, as well as in the artistic one, women abound more and more. Yes, it is true that the titles of author or director or translator or promoter seem more prestigious …, but the spectators are realizing that in organization and technique, those tasks that facilitate the work of art from within, we are increasingly in your effective hands. And it is good, as we see.
The groups of creators that are permanently established and form teams and centers of reference are consolidating. And it is showing that it is good.
Themes, arguments-ideas …
It is constant in the theater of all time, the search for human subjects. Borders and horizons have been expanded, taboos have been unblocked. The new trends are appreciated, at first glance, more in the way of presenting and versioning these themes, in the treatment of old and new themes with new perspectives,
Classical works are not abandoned: tragic Greeks and Romans, centuries of Spanish and English gold … Moliere and Goldoni are not lacking, nor are sporadic samples of German romanticism with Schiller. Most of these works are revisited, versioned, manipulated (sometimes very well), musicalized …, etc. All these actions have brought the works closer to an audience that already has more than just the verse in its theatrical experience. In some cases they are enriched by a sober scenography that enhances them, or by a symbolic space that reveals more than it says, or by a change of era that throws the validity of the problem in our faces, or by a crazy party that tells us about the joys of the human being, without hiding his ridiculous nonsense.
The so-called modern classics remain present: Lorca, Rodoreda, Sagarra, Benet i Jornet, Koltès, Ibsen, Norén, Bernhard, Weiss, Cocteau, Pinter, Beckett, Eduardo de Filippo, Chejov …, in Europe. O’Neill, Miller, Mamet, Bolaño, in America, among many others. Fortunately, creation grows with authors who are already mature but still active or with values that never cease to be born.
The presence, by free choice, of committed works that we need to see and accept grows. New works, but also those of some authors silenced while still alive and now recovering.
Among these themes, which we are discovering, there are three strong aspects in the treatment of some of the most current topics:
– One of them revolves around the unfortunately eternal theme of war: its continuous and growing presence, and its aftermath of repression, death, internal and external hatred, historical blame, rejection of refugees. I remember quickly and briefly, Purga, by Sofia Oksanca, about the Stalin purges in Estonia; Incerta gloria, by the novelist Joan Sàles, and Más ceniza, by Juan Mayorga, on the Spanish civil war; The night of Elver, by the Polish Ingmar Villgist, staged by the director of Sarajevo Dino Mustafiá, about the cruel fate that awaits those who are special in a militarized and totalitarian country; Nadia, Nadia Ghulam’s struggle to survive in the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, as a woman; Cain and Abel, by Marc Artigau, on the migratory avalanche and the merciless reception of Europe to the victims of the same situations that the West has helped to create …
– Another topic is developed around terrorism, past and present, without forgetting state terrorism, such as the one shown in Stéfano Massini’s Woman not reeducable, about the persecution and murder of the Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaia for denouncing government interventions on the population; or in Creoenunsolodios, by the same author, on the tragic human stupidity (almost eternal) of killing each other in the name of God, here for example in the Gaza Strip; Pure Hearts, by Joseph Kessel, dramatization of Mary de Cork’s short story, an almost dreamlike memory of how ideas can kill love in the Ireland of the IRA; o In a low voice, by Owen Mccafferty, where it is intended to attempt the still impossible dialogue between victims and executioners, in today’s Ireland.
– Another strong theme that prevails is the one that deals with political and economic corruption, or political-economic corruption that seems to be all the same. Specifically, on this topic, the last thing I have seen in the past few months has literally thrown itself into The jugular of these two institutions: I highlight the hilarious but effective Become a banker, about Bankia’s economic disaster and its protagonists in banking and politics; Lehman Trilogy, a study by Massini that, through three generations of the Lehman family, tries to understand the recent fall (2008) of the apparently safer American bank, the Lehman Brothers and its serious and still valid consequences. Two examples, but there are more. The monologue Confessions of a former president, which I have not seen but which promises to be juicy, also runs through some rooms and cities.
Mounts and diversified looks …
Cinema and television have looked at the theater since its inception, especially in search of themes. Today the theater benefits from advances in film and television, especially in staging techniques.
In one way or another, music has not been far from the stage. Expressly musical works fill the story, are increasingly present live in the non-expressly musical and take the stage, as one more character, instead of hiding. Today, in addition, following the example of cinema, own music for theater is created, the same as choreographies or dance-theater or theater-circus are introduced and created … The cinematographic projections have long ago entered to illustrate theatrical scenes, sometimes as a reference , or as a setting, or as a nod to the viewer: for example, in the last theatrical version of Etore Scola’s film, A private day, a scene starring Sofía Loren was wisely introduced, it did not distract the action or diminish it but it supported its meaning; the same as zenith projections on naked space in The Orphan of the Zhao Clan. Also prevailing in the multi-colored orgy of the monologue, Seuls, written, directed and performed by the Lebanese writer Wajdi Mouawad (Littoral, Fire, Forest, Heavens).
I remember the delicate and skillful projections of the last show offered by the Chilean Theater Company, La contadora de films. It tells the harsh history of the saltpeter communities of the Atacama desert, and it does so with an extraordinary interaction of the image and the actors of the company. I also remember the attractive designs of Robert Lepage author, designer, director, interpreter that, with his Ex Machina Company, I have seen and enjoyed in 887.
Computers for help and technical support are already widely used, but in Wajdi Mouawad’s work, Heavens, which I saw a couple of years ago, they are introduced as characters and windows to other characters and places. That use overwhelmingly enhances the fact of terrorism and, above all, the question we ask ourselves today: to what extent have we contributed to this? Everything helps reflection, that’s what it’s all about, mister theater?
Regarding much of what has already been said, it is perceived that the theater has not been immune to the growing cultural globalization. Theatrical creators of many fields have done their homework towards their audience and strive to broaden horizons, to cross and make borders cross, to denounce what separates and strengthen ties of humanity. The look at the value of the near everyday has been opened to the everyday of the neighbor and the farthest. Topics and techniques have been exchanged, ideas have been enriched, and theatrical groups are saying to their own and distant viewers: these are our common problems, this is our common humanity.
Awards, seasons, summer, publications …
In 2016, the XV Europe Prize and the XIII New Realities Prize were awarded. The last Europe Award was for the work of a choreographer and stage director, the Swedish Mats Ek. New Realities, which seek and publicize innovations in stage practice and dramatic writing, have awarded, among others, the Frenchman Jöel Pommerat, who only stages his own works, and the Spanish Juan Mayorga, author and director with a long career and that he has also begun directing his works.
Local, national and international prizes often take place. Texts are published, magazines are kept, on paper or digital, although others have disappeared. We continue to fight in many ways, to consolidate and stimulate the creation and permanence of an art that must compete today with many to win the public’s favor every day.
Seasons and festivals coexist, compete and collaborate. To end this section, I would highlight the consolidation in some spaces and the start in others of the most daring trends. In order to seek the complicity of the public, wide and attractive seasonal presentations are made, information is offered through television, information arrives on time and quickly through the mail, the websites of many theaters are active and updated …, cultural activities are scheduled , for all ages, around works and authors and, above all, the great idea of discussions with the public has been consolidated after some performances.
The theater world is increasingly clear that the audience (which is expected and desired as an attentive-active-prepared spectator) is not only the end of the creative process of many actions and committed people, but the purpose of their efforts. When that is achieved, the viewer feels truly part. Hopefully this trend will become a reality.