30.05 — 02.06.2023
Ça marche Barcelona
We see little kids playing. They seem unaware that we are watching on, which makes us all the more aware that we’re watching. With Los Figurantes, the young Spanish theatre company Ça marche – presenting outside of Spain for the first time – challenges the way we look at children and the innocence of childhood. Projected quotes and excerpts from Goethe’s and Schubert’s Erlkönig directly address our watching and our preconceptions of childhood. With this singular performance, Ça marche reminds us how children were not always viewed in a loving, protective way, and instead refers to 19th-century fairy tales and bedtime stories rife with violence. The children on stage ultimately turn out to be extras; the spectators are the true protagonists who, from the darkness, spell out signals, decipher clues, and fabricate omens. In this performance reflecting on the theatre as a machine of observation and witnessing, we are confronted with the fact that there is no watching without responsibility. Los Figurantes is an impressive, sometimes even uncanny visual experience capable of exposing and questioning with its brilliant structure the power dynamic between adults and children.
The King of the Alders
Who rides so late through night and wind?
It is the father with his child.
The man holds the boy tight in his arms,
He keeps him warm and protected.
— My son, why do you hide your face in fear?
— Father, don’t you see the King of the Alders?
The King of the Alders with his crown and cape…
— My son, it is just a trail of mist.
— Dear child, let’s get away together!
I’ll play such lovely games with you!
So many flowers colour the river bank!
I shall read books to you.
— My father, my father, don’t you hear,
What the King of the Alders promises me in a whisper?
— Be calm, be still, my child,
It’s the sound of the wind in the dry leaves.
— Do you want to come with me?
My daughters will take good care of you.
They who dance in rings at night,
Will rock you with their dance and song.
— Father, father, don’t you see how they dance,
The King of the Alders’ daughters in the shadows?
— My son, my son, of course I see,
And those grey shadows are old willows.
— I love you, your beautiful body tempts me,
If you don’t consent, I’ll make you by force!
— Father, father, he’s taking control of me!
The King of the Alders is hurting me!
The father shudders, he spurs his horse,
He squeezes the groaning child against his chest.
After much effort, he reaches the farm.
In his arms, the child was dead.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1782
Los figurantes In the company of ogres
Los figurantes is an observing machine. For observing children. And for observing oneself observing them. Los figurantes is a machine for dismantling the tutelary status of the new spectator: the one who safeguards childhood and amends theater; or the one who protects childhood in theater; or the one who infantilizes theater to protect childhood from theater; the one who, ultimately, protects oneself from both – childhood and theater – because of the mirage that both represent. It reproduces the filters of an adult gaze that, invariably biased by guilt and desire, addresses childhood as the most projective, delirious, and ultimately enigmatic – perhaps the darkest – of spectacles. In this loving fiction in which an entire adult audience longs to recognize itself, children are only figurants: instead, ogres and bogeymen are the ones who watch and feast from the darkness, spelling out signs, decoding clues and fabricate omens; they are the protagonists, the interpreters, the profaners; they are the ones who expunge the tautology of childhood. The new ogres nest in the multitudinous gaze of a loving, attentive, and scrupulous adult world that, like Saint Christopher, seeks to save childhood so that childhood may save it from its cynicism; that takes care of it, carries it, and finally burdens it: that carries it passionately towards disaster; that, in order to make it sacred, sacrifices it.
- Roberto Fratini Serafide
- April 2023
- Roberto Fratini Serafide is dramaturge.
Presentation: Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Les Brigittines
Direction: Nico Jongen | Dramaturgy: Roberto Fratini | Performers: a group of extras accompanied by Mariona Signes | Set design and lights: Marc Salicrú | Music and sound design: Aurora Bauzà | Costumes: Mariona Signes | Movement assistance: Joaquín Collado
Production: Laura Viñals | Thanks to: Víctor Molina | Coproduction: Teatre Lliure, Festival TNT, Conde Duque, Nau Ivanow, Ça marche
With the support of: TenerifeLAV, Terrassa Crea, Estruch Fàbrica de Creació, Festival Escena Poblenou, Centre Cívic Can Felipa-Felipa (Lab), Centre Cívic Barceloneta, Graner Centre for Creation of Dance and Performing Arts, Generalitat de Catalunya
Performances in Brussels with the support of the Spanish Embassy in Belgium and the collaboration of the Instituto Cervantes Brussels