Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel, Fora de Quadre
Directors: Andrea Bel / Recaredo Silebo Boturu
Teatre Lliure Montjuïc - Espai Lliure 16/07 - 18/07
Annobón is an island located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean that belongs to Equatorial Guinea. The island was used by the Portuguese as a place where their slave ships stopped to take fresh provisions on board as they sailed between Africa and the coast of America. It was colonised by Spain at the end of the 18th century, and was Spanish territory until 1968. In 1973, there was a cholera epidemic on Annobón that wiped out half of the population. Equatorial Guinea had just won independence from Spain, and what was happening on this African island seemed to be of no importance either to the dictator or to the former colonial power. The novel By Night the Mountain Burns (2009) takes us back and tells the story of the beauty and violence of the island at that time, as seen through the eyes of a child. It is the most critically acclaimed work by Annobón writer Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel, a refugee living in Sant Cugat del Vallès since 2011. Translated into several languages, the book is out of print in Spanish, the language in which it was originally written, and has never been published in Catalan. Nor is it easy to find in Equatorial Guinea, the seventh country with the least freedom of expression in the world.
Ávila Laurel is the protagonist of the 2019 documentary L’escriptor d’un país sense llibreries, presented at the most recent edition of the Frankfurt Book Fair (Germany). The film chronicles the trip he made back to Equatorial Guinea, despite the risk he was taking as one of the most important intellectuals opposed to dictator Teodoro Obiang. Obiang, a soldier who trained in Zaragoza, has governed the country with an iron fist since 1979, thanks to the complicity of Spanish business and cultural elites.
Annobón will premiere at Barcelona’s Grec Festival, portrayed by Afro-Catalan actor Ricard Boyle. It is co-directed by Andrea Bel and Recaredo Silebo Boturu, from Bocamandja, a company that is one of the leading lights of the Guinean theatre scene.
The script takes us to a tropical setting where everything revolves around fishing and community life. This is an intimate journey to the only African country where Spanish is the official language, and that until 52 years ago, was just another province of Spain.
After independence, Equatorial Guinea was erased from the history books and became a classified subject. This work seeks to recover this forgotten memory by bringing a post-colonial perspective to the theatre. The body, through movement, words, and images, creates a dialogue with the colonial representations imposed, establishing resistance through voice, language, traditions, and the indigenous cultural heritage, which still survives despite centuries of oppression and oblivion.
A necessary reminder of the enduring impact of the Franco regime, and the imprint of colonialism left on Equatorial Guinea, a country for which Barcelona was the principal metropolis.
A Grec 2021 Festival de Barcelona, Institut del Teatre and Fora de Quadre co-production.
The show was awarded the 2020 Adrià Gual prize by the Institut del Teatre de la Diputació de Barcelona.
The 17 July show will have a sign language interpreter.
With the backing of the Sant Cugat del Vallès City Council, the Generalitat de Catalunya, the Sala UREF in La Floresta, the Parc Sandaru Civic Centre and the Drassanes Civic Centre in Barcelona.
Original script: Juan Tomás Ávila Laurel Adapted and dramatised by: Esteve Mulero Co-directed by: Andrea Bel, Recaredo Silebo Boturu Playwright: Joan Escrivà-Escolà Performed by: Ricard Boyle Scenography, lighting and costume design: Sara Espinosa Sound space: Ubaldo Visuals: Georgina Surià Technical coordination: Oriol Mestre Lighting: Gabriela Bianchi Social networks videos: Norma Nebot Adviser: Mar Garcia, Celeste Muñoz and Aina Juanet Student intern (MUET): Adeline Flaun Produced by: Marc Serena Photography: Sol Bela Mele
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