Elon Musk’s words are heard on stage in his famous speech at the International Astronautical Congress 2016 in front of hundreds of engineers and scientists. Musk says: “History will branch into two directions: one of them is to stay on Earth forever. The other is to become a space civilization. And this is the right way for me. Indeed, we have only one option left. And that variant is Mars,” the words are part of the play “Song of the Mineral,” which premiered this week at the Teatro Lliure in Barcelona. Chalo Tolosa-Fernandez speaking. It uses the verbatim technique typical of documentary theater, in which the actor listens through headphones and reproduces the tone and spirit of the speaker as accurately as possible.
“The problem we have today is that the optimistic cost of a mission to Mars would be about $10 billion per person. And you can’t create a million-strong civilization, which is the threshold for a completely self-sustaining city on Mars, if that’s the price. But if we get a value of about $200,000, the average price of a house in the United States, the likelihood of a civilization on Mars is very high. And for this we need from 40 to 100 years, 1000 interstellar ships and 10,000 flights of 80 days each. A fairly reasonable length, considering that in the old days it took six months or more to sail across the ocean. A trip that will also be very fun and exciting! I promise you will have a great time! (…) The first ships are almost ready and can accommodate 100 or more people, with their luggage and everything needed to build everything we can imagine on Mars, from iron foundries to pizzerias.” The future has already arrived, as Radio Futura used to say.
AzconaToloza has opened new horizons. Where it used to be the Pacific Trilogy, a six-year theatrical journey through documentary theater about the indigenous peoples of the Amazon and their struggle against colonialism before and neo-colonialism today, now they have taken off with the energy of Major Tom to Bowie. to uncharted territories. “Song Mineral” is a mixture of documentary research, speculative reality and sci-fi series B. The work is about the future of the colonies. We want to open a trilogy about the following territories for colonization, which are essentially two: space and the seabed. Non-renewable minerals are sought in undeveloped places with the same colonial ideas of five hundred years ago,” explains Txalo Tolosa, a Chilean who has lived in Barcelona for a long time and after a theatrical career as a fine artist with well-known creators such as Sonia Gomez or Roger Bernat, ten years ago we decided to start a company together with Laida Ascona, a Navarran dancer.
The work begins with a dream reminiscent of the final image of Fight Club, a David Fincher film, in which, to the music of the Pixies, you can see the skyline of a city being bombed. There is no music here, only words, we are not in the USA, but in Santiago de Chile. There is no terrorism, just the birth of an imaginary volcano in the Pacific ring of fire. At the window is not Edward Norton, but Chalo Tolosa, locked in his old student apartment, to which he returned years later, imagining that the skyline of Santiago, the one that now prevents him from seeing the Andes, is giving way.
“The trilogy ended with the phrase: “Now it’s time to stop and listen.” I had to do a new job, a new project. We left with all the baggage of the trilogy, where we learned to listen to the indigenous peoples. And we decided to listen to what we do not listen to, to the inert, to the earth, to the stone. The work represents, without animistic will, a different relationship between man and mineral. A relationship that we also learned from the indigenous peoples who listen to the land and are grateful to it, do not want to control and subdue it,” Laida Ascona explains about this new work that they have created as permanent artists of the Theatre. Lliur.
futuristic documentary theater
The product stands on three legs. On the one hand, a futuristic, rather mocking sci-fi text that begins with the words: “60 years ago, in the spring of the first year of the invasion of Mars by earthlings, a couple of explorers and their young daughter undertook one of the first interstellar journeys from the Montjuic launch pad in the city of Barcelona.” Thus, throughout the work, we will witness almost nine hundred days of travel to Mars, ironic and sad, which will end with this family trio wandering in the bowels of Mount Olympus on Mars, a giant mountain and a suffocating journey. reminiscent of Cormac McCarthy’s harrowing novel Highway. The second leg is a theatrical space, inhabited, a visiting card of the house, in an anti-dramatic key. The space, which at first looks like a collection of large-scale minerals, gradually becomes an archaeological area, to eventually become a vector image and a dream mountain. A space that never ceases to be sonorous in the hands of Rodrigo Rammsey, a musician on stage who develops a concerto with sound extracted from stones and minerals throughout the piece.
And the third part consists of five mountains: “Volcano San José in the Andes, the Belagua Mountains in the Navarre Pyrenees, a new unnamed volcano called La Palma, the Paricutin volcano in Mexico, artificial mountains created by man, such as the garbage mountains in Medellin , the mountains of used clothes in the Atacama or the mountains of Jingshan, formed from excavated earth to create the forbidden city of Beijing; and a future mountain on Mars, Mount Olympus,” Ascona sums up. During this trip, the viewer is introduced to other ways of thinking, such as that of the Navarrese highlanders, where other ways of thinking about the land, rooted in Basque mythology, are valued.
There is also an approach to the figure of Dr. Atl, a genius and artist of the early 20th century, who saw the birth of a volcano in front of his home of Paricutin: “This is how we discovered Dr. Atl, his paintings, his volcanoes and his fiery palette. And his idea is that volcanoes should not be drawn from below and far away, as has always been done, but, on the contrary, from above and very close. And not only in order to change the perspective, but for the artist to be part of the landscape,” they say about this wonderful muralist, politician, intellectual, chemist, revolutionary, who eventually became an anti-Semite and a Hitlerite, and write letters to President Kennedy, urging him to the conquest of space, but through the mind, and not those toys that are called spaceships. A complete anti-Elon Musk. And so, we see a dense dramaturgy, full of information and with a poetic and playful flight, in which, for example, we see that family of the future who listens to the song of Ursula K, a fictional group that sings the poems of the writer Ursula K. LeGuin. The theme is interpreted on stage by João Lima, the fourth member of the troupe, a Brazilian actor living in Barcelona, better known as a dancer, but in this work demonstrating deep acting training.
In short, this is how the documentary, anthropological and political theater of revelation is touring, thanks to which this troupe tours the world and gains recognition in the great theaters of Europe. And he turns, clinging to his convictions and his language, towards a more poetic, more fragile place, less based on comprehensive documentation and reminiscent of the first work of his previous trilogy, the beautiful Burn of Strange Seas. “We are starting a theater that we want to make in the next five or six years. There is still no huge documentary research, as in the previous parts, there is no such huge research. In this case, everything is much more fragile, a much more individual approach, openness to the poetic,” admits Laida.
The work, however, continues to maintain a deep critical vision of the future, and already in this first part it provokes a clash “between the most violent capitalism and the telluric movement” on which the world is based, explains Tolosa. “It shows how small this capitalism is in front of the volcano. These two forces are on the scene. We started to do a lot of research in the field of subsea and offshore mining. And we will work on it in the next parts,” he adds. “There has never been such appropriation of undeveloped territories as in recent years. At one point in the sci-fi portion of the piece, there is an apocryphal quote attributed to an adviser to the Spanish Ministry of Aerospace Affairs in 2036. It reads: “Attracted by the treasures of rare metals, we have carried out the largest land grab operation in history. For those who mourn the loss of the old colonial empire, it can be said that our country has never been as great as it is now.” This is actually from an adviser to the French Foreign Office talking about deep sea mining. Every time France captures an island, it also captures the 200 submarine miles that surround it, and all that territory becomes French. In the 1970s, approximately 70% of the sea belonged to no one, now less than 30%. That’s the problem,” explains Toloza.
“We want to talk about a supposed technological turnaround that is said to be greener and dematerializing, but in reality it requires incalculable mineral resources, more than ever before. While the article may seem less than optimistic, with all the money already invested and the scam going on, there is some hope for being able to rethink this in a different way. Between today and 2050, more land will be moved than has been moved in the entire history of mankind, something will need to be thought about and said about this, ”says Ascona. “Elon Musk’s concept of terraforming Mars, for example, is terrible. They want to populate Mars to do the same thing we did to Earth. There is no approach to come and think about what we can do, but rather, we will do the same, we will have the same houses, we will exploit the resources, like here, where we destroyed what was there. ” adds Toloza.
The work, which will last on the stage for most of May, is of an initial nature, with an imbalance of density and movement on the stage. But it’s great to be able to access this original project moment of these two divers of the theatre, with great visual and poetic possibilities, at the same time political and reflective. His documentary theater started before the genre was introduced in Spain just over five years ago. The Latin American origin of this company and its close association with Mexican bands such as Lagartijas tiradas al sol is not accidental. Documentary theater in Latin America, from Vicente Legiero in Mexico to Yuyachkani in Peru, has deep roots. Now they are abandoning it, looking to the future, hybrids, with a dream of building: “When all this is really over, the Sagrada Familia will be a super-beautiful mountain, and the Agbar Tower will be different, and the Lliure Theater will become part of the mountain. In the end, this is what we leave, the mountains, we pass and leave the landscape behind us,” concludes Tolosa.
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