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Eloy Fernández Porta

Well Blow it offGranite of the new worldtheatrical monologue byEloy Fernández Porta,inspired by his book En la confidencia (Anagrama)
With participation by Ana M. Palomo

Thursday 6th December at 7.30 pm 
in ACVic Centre d’Arts Contemporànies (Sant Francesc, 1 Vic)

Event organised byLlibreria Foster & Wallace

 

worldis the title of the initial section of the book - which has been adapted as a graphic novel by Valencian artist Carlos Maiques, in a version entitled Sub Rosa. The essay, written in an autobiographical register, refers to a dramatic situation that took place the morning after my arrival in the town of Durham (North Carolina), where I spent a year for work reasons. This situation, which in the text acts as a trigger, and occupies two pages, has been re-imagined, expanded and converted into a theatrical venture conceived as a piece in three acts, with no interval, though there is a short pause for costume changes. In acts 1 and 3, I recite, with alterations, three sections of the book; the central act is new.

The work is conceived as a performance on stage and in front of a projector which will display 33 images, all of which are artworks related to the text, and which clarify it at some points – see the list at the end. The elements on stage are small, but also numerous and striking, ranging from the successive changes of costumes and the appearance of the single actor (myself), to a long series of objects, which include, among many others, a recorded musical cassette tape, and a collection of merchandise from Subway sandwich shops, converting the stage into the exterior terrace of the restaurant.

The performance has several notable changes of register. It begins in a dramatic tone and evolves towards a comic tone which lasts a good part of the play, until it arrives at a brief closure in a more elegiac tone. Beginning with the scene of an unforeseen encounter between two strangers who come from different cultures - a Spanish and a North American from the South - several themes are connected; the New World myth, serious illness - of the North American’s wife -, the topic of native cultures - with various references to the Guanche and Mohican cultures -, the expressive power and emotional confidence, which is the subject of the book in question, and, above all, culture shock, which provokes a detailed satirical dialogue about the received cultural imaginaries regarding “Americans", "Europeans" and "Spaniards".

In order to perform this thematic repertoire, I open myself out throughout the piece into three characters, through successive changes in costume, gesture and language. The first act is the most autobiographical, that of the Spaniard who narrates his arrival in the New World realistically, and who occupies the entire first act in the form of a monologue, with an odd interruption by another voice. The second act, on the other hand, is organised as a lively dialogue in which I interpret two other characters. The first one is like a derivation of the previous one, turned into a displaced and satirical version of "the European in the United States." The second is a Southern Europhobe, with whom a conversation, starting out with extreme differences and discrepancies, arrives at points in common, including two scenes with a decidedly poetic character.

In order to develop the two characters in the second act, I have worked particularly on the English language, making a number of tests with audiences of various ages who have a rudimentary and limited level of the language. The work consists, on the one hand, of reducing the vocabulary to terms and expressions which may be easily understood by a relatively unschooled audience; while on the other hand, of developing a tone of "English spoken poorly by a Spanish-speaker", with literal translations and a very marked accent, resulting in a text that a North American could not understand well, but which a Spanish speaker, regardless of level, may follow perfectly. It also consists, of course, of using gesture to explain things that would otherwise require a more sophisticated vocabulary, and, continually, in the insertion, by the Spanish character, of phrases in Spanish, and on the part of the American, of badly understood but understandable Spanish expressions. Finally, in the case of the American character, there is an imitation of the real accent and a linguistic restriction which, combined with the support of the images, makes the dialogue understandable, as well as fun or  poetic as and when required.

So, the second act "is not in English", but in one of the dialogues, which ends up in Spanish, English tones and words which any Spanish person may hear through the media are very consciously used, drawing upon my 25 years of teaching experience working in both languages and with students of very different levels. One way to explain this process would be as follows; it is as if the "method" with which the famous Toreros Muertos song On The Desk was written, had been further developed, expanding the lyrical possibilities, along with the comic possibilities, of speaking a foreign language badly but understandably, always mindful of a general audience with a certain level of comprehension, but which has not necessarily studied English at school. Not forgetting that the extended use, on the street and on the Internet, of the English language in its basic forms, is today, obviously, far more widespread than it was in 1987, when Pablo Carbonell presented, with great success, On the Desk.

I have made the above comments in order to specify, as much as possible, the dynamics of the performance. I do not think it is necessary to announce it as "a performance containing a section in English" because this would give an erroneous idea of what really happens. In fact, if a North American were drawn to the performance by that phrase, they might say afterwards that the language I used is not English itself, and that sometimes the English is lost, something that would not happen with a member of the audience for whom English is their third language. 

Eloy Fernández Porta (Barcelona, 1974), Doctor in Humanities at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, he has published ten books: the short story collections Los minutos de la basura andCaras B, l'antoligia Golpes, the thesis Estética del relato posmodernoand, for Anagrama, the essays Afterpop, Homo Sampler, €RO$, Emociónese asíEn la confidenciaand, in CatalanL’art de fer-ne un gra massa. His series of articles on the subject of art, Nubada en prosa,is published byJot DownNúvol: http://www.jotdown.es/author/eloy/. He has been awarded the Special Recognition in the Doctorate, the Premi Anagrama and the Premi Ciutat de Barcelona, and his texts have been translated into English, French and Portuguese. In 2007, versions of his books were published in spoken word format. In this context he has developedAfterpop Fernández & Fernández(with Agustín Fernández Mallo) and Mainstream (with Jose Roselló) and has collaborated with artists such as Mireia Saladrigas, Diana Pornoterrorista and Aggtelek. He has appeared at festivals such as Yuxtaposiciones, Cosmopoética, Kosmopolis, SOS, Alhóndiga, Coruña Mayúscula, Spoken Word (Montpellier) and the Oaxaca Book Fair, and also as part of the networks of the Centro Cultural de España at México DF, Buenos Aires and Córdoba (Argentina), at the Institut Cervantes in Chicago, at the Bijou Theatre (Iowa) and at the Trans Atlantic Project (Providence). His work in performing his essays also led him in the direction of working in video: with Natxo Medina, La vía diplomática https://www.facebook.com/AnagramaEditorial/videos/1711428038896086/ i, amb Carles Congost, Quien busca a la Humanidad hallará la muchedumbre https://www.facebook.com/AnagramaEditorial/videos/1695851900453700 ambdós concebuts com a recital filmat de En la confidencia.

Actions done (february-september 2018)

Auditori Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona), Llibreria Calders (BCN), Libreria-galeria La Casa Amarilla (Zaragoza), IVAM (Valencia), Espacio B (Madrid), Antic Teatre (BCN), La Térmica (Málaga, La Noche de los Libros), Centro Niemeyer (Avilés), Espacio Fundación Telefónica (Madrid) and ACVic (Vic, 6 de setembre).  

Chronicles of performances

‘El pensador espectáculo’, per Ramón de España (El Periódico de Catalunya, Barcelona)
https://www.elperiodico.com/es/distritos/20180302/articulo-ramon-espana-pendsador-espectaculo9-6663597

‘Confidencia en la UCI’, per Ignacio López (Zero Grados, Zaragoza)
http://www.zgrados.com/confidencia-en-la-uci-tratado-de-la-agonia-grabada/

Crònica dibuixada de Carlos Maiques (València) 
https://www.facebook.com/pg/AnagramaEditorial/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1742909889081234

Escena amb documentació gràfica (Pliego Suelto, BCN)
http://www.pliegosuelto.com/?p=25157

 

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