WORDS FROM ALFREDO MAÑAS AND ANTÓN GARCÍA ABRIL
It's really very simple: what I want is to make uncomplicated and straightforward theater, like bread and water; that is, like the anonymous balladeer.
There is a chronicler or a cult poet behind every anonymous romance, every popular poem. Behind my works, behind this Don Juan, there is an entire Spanish tradition of cult authors, and what's more, the entire variety of popular poetry on the subject and all the modern poetry by my favorite authors and teachers. Behind this work are Machado, Vallejo, Neruda, Lorca, Alberti, Miguel Hernández, all, those from now, those still to come, the usuals. And there is also Tirso, Zorrilla, Omar Kayan, Fernando de Rojas, Valle Inclán, Lope de Vega, Puskhin, Ortega y Gasset, Unamuno, Azorín, Baroja, Ganivet, Américo Castro...the usuals, the usuals... Luis Buñuel said in the last issue of "Griffith" magazine: "Today's youth are innocent victims of the break with tradition". As you can see, I don't want to be an innocent victim of any break.
Back to what I was saying: following the parallelism of creation between the cult and popular poetry, what I did is the same: that is, to take the myth and the development in cult works and adapt it to a popular atmosphere. On the other hand, it is then that Don Juan, or Don Galán (Rake), as he is called in the first anonymous romance, from whose clay this character seems to be shaped, who everyone says is the most dazzling, attractive and exciting character in Spanish literature, perhaps even world literature, began to gain a reputation. And hence the beginning of this legend:
Pa misa diba un galán (A rake was going to mass)
Caminito de la iglesia (Walking on his way to church).
ni diba por oir misa (he wasn't going to hear mass)
ni por devoción de ella (nor was he going to worship),
que diba por ver las damas (he was going to see the ladies)
las que están guapas y frescas (the ones who are beautiful and young)
This is the Don Juan that I know, that I want, that excites me. That insulting, sacrilegious, anarchic, rebellious boy of the people who goes to Mass to scandalously seduce women, who mocks everything divine and human, but who carries somewhere deep inside him the specter of the religious and of the moral. Because, as Ortega y Gasset said, the moral condition of Don Juan stems from the fact that all his adventures are followed by risk, followed by death, which follows him everywhere he goes, a pale friendship he carries on his shoulder.
One could spend a lifetime talking about Don Juan, trying to clarify who Don Juan is, unsuccessfully, of course, because clearer and more powerful minds than mine have tried and fallen short...so me, little old me...but I'll just say a couple of things...I've always heard it said that Don Juan is a legend about the decay of a class, of its disappearance...I, however, come from a social class that has not yet made its appearance, and yet what I like about Don Juan is the side of the people that appears...Careful, though, it appears with all its vices, its dangers and its virtues...the phrase that could summarize my attempt of Don Juan is this one from Antonio Machado (hail, master): Don Juan is, like the Spanish people, an unknown full of mysterious potential.
So, then, on the other hand, this is the story, so Spanish, of a boy of the people who, by any means necessary, manages to lift himself out of the anonymous people. He is someone who, when confronted with a ruling class or family, and is offered the opportunity to become immortal and part of this family, he prefers destruction and disorder. Nothing else.
And now this one's for you, Antonio Gades: Do you remember, Antonio? Three years ago we were out and about, having a few glasses of wine on credit, because, as you say, we were strapped for cash, and you said to me: "I'm going to spend the first bit of money I make on producing a show together", and I told you, "It will be Don Juan", and you replied "Done". And it's done, Antonio. But what grief I'm in. Since the age of 13 you've been clawing your way up, struggling, banging your head against the stage to be someone. Now, you are...and you can live in peace. But you risked it all: your money, your health, your prestige, this letter from Don Juan you have placed in my hands...I'm grieving...If this doesn't go well, if I make you fail, I will never forgive myself...
One last note: if there is one thing I am at this time absolutely sure about our Don Juan (because it is ours, Anton García Abril and mine), of one thing I am sure, it's the show's music. I'm not sure about the other half of the show, but the score, the score yes...Absolutely sure...all the popular mood, feeling, that touch, that difficult touch that I wanted for Don Juan, I don't know if it will be in the text; but it will be, I'm sure, in the orchestra, in the score by Anton Garcia Abril...
And another thing I'm proud of: the actors. I will never find more enthusiasm for my work than this company. Candida Losada, who has been up for anything: to not sleep, to dance, to move and to receive choreography lessons with a passionate excitement. And everyone, all the others: Paloma Lorena, Carlos Villafranca, Pilarín Sanclemente, Lizarraga, Albert, Pascual, Amézaga. And a girls chorus, their passion is my weakness. And a boys chorus. And a ballet, which the actors also perform. And the singers, who are the actresses. And then, a medieval ensemble, the only one of its kind in the world, I think. And the orchestra. And all those who help me get this off the ground, with tireless effort. Viola, Corberó, Ponç, Sainz de la Peña…All these painters and sculptors, whose work has been more than recognized in international art world and here is done even by house painters. And Gonzalo Sebastián de Erice, my assistant...And Granero, the choreographer, with Gades, who is leaves pieces of his health throughout all the immense choreography that is this work. And nothing else.
Ah, my stage direction is very simple. A entire people of viewers comes to see the show, making life a mere spectacle. For the people who come here everything is spectacle: a mass, an intimate love scene, a beating, a parade, the death of a bride...As for the actors, it is also very simple: I wanted them to be, not to overact...We will see if I have succeeded…
And the last surprise: Gades, Gades as an actor, as a Don Juan, as a classical dancer, as a popular “bailaor”...see it, see it, and tell me…
The way a show is approached, be it musical or theatrical, brings with it a series of problems whose resolution depends the balance and the perfection of the show. But these problems only go one way: in our case, when writing Don Juan, we were asked to let our imaginations fly, unifying the language to make it true musical theater. Musical theater meaning where dialog and music are not performed separately, where the dialog is essential to the music and music, the dialog. In this sense, the partnership with Alfredo Mañas has been complete. Our work together hasn't been too difficult, because a marked musical sense is always lying dormant in Alfredo Mañas' theatrical thinking. We have always worked together and have given shape to the show according to the demands of the dramatic style, giving up both to any situation in which dialog or music slips away from of our initial purpose.
Our lifelong idea has always been to make true popular theater rooted in our best tradition. In Don Juan, actors, dancers, choruses, etc. all blend together, providing them all a great richness of expression. We have adopted a total freedom of language; the sound elements that appear range from the hurdy-durdy, vihuela, Renaissance flutes, etc., to the fusion of different xylophones, within a tone structure adapted to the theater.
It is true that we have had an extremely valuable aesthetic element when creating the show: the dancer/actor, this quality that Antonio Gades had, which has provided extensive possibilities, opening the way to the creation of new forms of expression.
MUSICAL TRAGICOMEDY BY ALFREDO MAÑAS AND ANTÓN GARCÍA ABRIL
- ANTONIO GADES and JOSÉ GRANERO
- Dance Instructor:
- JOSÉ GRANERO
- Resident Orchestra of the Teatro de la Zarzuela. Director:
- EUGENIO M. MARCO
- Medieval orchestra. Director:
- Sketches and scenery and costumes:
- SAINZ DE LA PEÑA
- Figurines in La Danza de la Muerte:
- JOAN PONÇ
- Scenic design:
- MANUEL LÓPEZ
- Costume design:
- MARIBEL, RUPPERT, PAQUITA and ANGELITA
- GALLARDO and BORJA
- 1st Script:
- CONCHA ARANDA
- 2nd Script:
- AGUADO and CARRIEDO
- JOSEFA LUNA
- J. L. PEÑAS
- Set designers:
- VIOLA, CORBERO, PONÇ
- Lighting design:
- SAINZ DE LA PEÑA
- Musical Direction and Music:
- ANTÓN GARCÍA ABRIL
- COLITA and CORES
- ALFREDO MAÑAS
- Assistant Director:
- GONZALO SEBASTIÁN DE ERICE
- Don Juan:
- ANTONIO GADES
- Andrea, death:
- CÁNDIDA LOSADA
- Doña Elvira:
- PALOMA LORENA
- Don Luis:
- CARLOS VILLAFRANCA
- Doña Inés:
- PILARÍN SANCLEMENTE
- Juan Cruz de Pantoja:
- JUAN LIZARRAGA
- Sancho de Pantoja:
- PASCUAL MARTÍN
- Rosendo de Pantoja:
- JOSE ALBERT
- Don Gonzalo:
- JUAN AMEZAGA
Tamara Sie, in the white costume, Marisa Aguado, Mercedes Alba, Asunción Atienza, Judit Cipriano, Isabel Lago, Maruja del moral, María Teresa Muñoz, Raquel Rodríguez, Angelines Santos, Mery Senra.
Goyo Montero, in the bull, Enrique Esteve, Félix Granados, Luis Villa Landa, Rafael Liarte, Marcelo Lucia, RobertoMayor, Rafael Ramallo, Antonio Rivas, Antonio Salas, Ricardo Villa, Paulino Zapatero.
Esperanza Alonso, Yolanda Bal, Beatriz Carvajal, Elena Fernán Gómez, Mari Carmen Gil, Fernanda Hurtado, Teresa Hurtado, Gloria Fuente, Dolores Montero, Julia de la Riva, Inmaculada Sanz, Conchita del Val.
Carlos Alemán, Eugenio Beraciertos, Alberto Blasco, Claudio Crespo, Ignacio Fabián, Laureano Gómez, Mariano Herrán, Manuel Peloche, Antonio Ramallo, Lucio Rey, Fernando Rojas.
Eulalia Muñoz Calera, Sonsoles del Castillo, Marisa Marín, María Angeles Polo, María Luisa Sagrista, Mari Carmen Sinovas, Ester Escribano, Trinidad Escribano, Amalia Rodríguez, Soledad Ruano, Soledad Ruiz, Mercedes Valimaña