230 Kms from Higueruela – 29th and 30th JUNE 2012

The workshop

 In Villarreal, the reception that we received from the students that attended our workshop exceeded all of our expectations. They were theatre loving adolescents, and there was even one that was considering studying in order to professionally engage in performing arts. They welcomed us with great expectation and were very willing to play and learn. We found it very easy as they felt comfortable and participated in all of the proposed activities with lots of dedication. They all expressed what affected their lives more directly and deeply in the current economic crisis. As adolescents eager to go out into the world and blend in without having to hold back their own identity, the majority expressed their disagreement with social discrimination in general. The subject that we chose to work on in the last part of the workshop was ‘Homophobia’. The students finished by improvising a conflict based around this problem and they were very involved at the time of proposing possible solutions. At the end we did an evaluation on the workshop in which everybody expressed their satisfaction. It pleased them to be able to express their concerns without being stopped and we were very grateful for the fact that we were able to remind them that we are all part of this fight towards a better world.

“If you want the world to change, start to make a move”, Caravan Project.

The meetings

In a park full of grandparents playing pétanque and in front of another park full of children playing on the swings, we interviewed William Gundini, in his role as head of the ‘Espai Jove’ centre, an institution belonging to the council and which is above all a meeting place where they attempt to accommodate all of the concerns of young people. It is designed to hold continuous workshops and other intensive workshops which are attempting to unleash young potential, all year round. William tells us that it continues to be a successful centre in terms of the number of students and the flow of ideas that they propose, but a change of attitude in young people towards the recession is also evident. A high level of hopelessness, apathy and insecurity is detected in them and above all the awareness of a problem that they still do not feel to be directly part of their lives, affects much of society.

It was a little more difficult to secure an interview with Miriam Caravaca, President of the ‘Barrio del Hospital’ Residents’ Association, given that the camera makes her very nervous and it is not her usual medium; but we soon managed to relax her and she told us all about her  delivery of humanity and unpaid work to the others working in this association, and that she and the rest of the team are supporting, by using many hours of their spare time. She tells us that in total there are twelve residents’ associations in Villarreal and some of course have a greater delivery and infrastructure than others, but generally, there is a friendly relationship and mutual support between them. These associations are also subsidised by the council and to summarise, the project which they are now attempting to support would be: to recruit a chef to teach cookery, to involve department stores that are able to provide food, and the people that take part in the workshop, who would be people in need, would learn to cook economically and would also be able to take home the food that they have cooked.

We say goodbye to William and Miriam uplifted by the humanity and generosity that both of them give off.

As well as these two meetings, we were lucky enough to go for a few beers with Pau Ayet, the person responsible for the Caravan Project parking up in Villarreal. Apart from working for the council as a planner, this charming youngster is an actor, mainly in street theatre and, in the organisation he is also responsible for several festivals that have been held in town for years. He updated us on the cultural situation in the Valencia region, of the lack of interest and support from government and politics, and of how the cuts made due to the economic crisis were affecting theatre companies. The interesting thing is that he is the pioneer of an action plan with regard to the recession, that interested us a lot, and that is based on the motto, ‘united we stand, divided we fall’, the union of the majority of companies in this case, fed up of the fact that it is always ‘the same companies’ that receive aid and those that proceed to be featured in catalogues, and that it is always, above all, a question of taking to the streets to deliver shows directly to the audience, so that they have the right to speak and vote at the time of choosing a schedule for the festivals, tours, etc. and not always leave it in the hands of a single planner that, unfortunately, in many cases, does not even have the training or knowledge to decide what is best for the people.

The show

 On 30th July at 9:30pm, we performed Despertamos in the main square in Villarreal, a large, but not so busy square, since, as they told us, in summer there is not much ambiance in Villarreal because a lot of people have gone to spend their holidays at the beach. Even so, when the show started people were already arriving, and in the end it would appear that there was a good audience interested in the show and its message. There were mostly youngsters and adolescents, the majority of which had taken part in the workshop that we held the previous day. Some of them had even come from their towns and cities to Villarreal just to see the show. It was a great surprise to see how almost all of them participated, since this secured the success of our workshop with them.

After the show we were chatting with the students about the show and the tour. As some of them want to study performing arts, they also wanted us to talk to them about our experiences as actors. This chat made us realise how fortunate to be part of a project in which, as well as doing theatre, the message is direct and gives rise to the fact that the public debates about it, and reflects on its situation. This work is also bringing us to reflect as actors: Is it always necessary to say what we think or what we feel motivates us to get on a stage? Are we forgetting that initial need to communicate? That adolescent dream in which we believe that we can change the world through art, and also a reflection on, how the recession is affecting us as artists.

Perhaps deciding to be an artist already entails living in difficulty…. And perhaps, what helps us to survive is not forgetting why one day we decide to become artists. “Dream the impossible dream…”

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