Mercè 2020: a local festival for everybody

[ 15.09.20 ]

People of Barcelona: everybody, whatever their age and whatever disabilities they may have, is invited to enjoy the city’s annual festival to the full from 23 to 27 September. Check the detailed information provided in the programme, where you will find plenty to choose from, including some events with artists who are well acquainted with diversity.

If you have a disability that affects your mobility, things will be easier than ever for you this year. As you know, you need to book in advance to actually attend events at venues, and capacities have been reduced in audience areas to ensure safety distances. With seating already separated, there is no need to set aside specific areas for people with reduced mobility like other years.

First, tune your TV so you can see and listen to the opening speech that will be given by Jaume Mateu Bullich (the clown Tortell Poltrona) on Wednesday 23 September in Plaça de Sant Jaume, and broadcast to everyone by betevé, La Mercè’s official channel. As usual, there will be sign language interpreting and transcription.

The speech marks the start of a large street arts celebration, with music and traditions suitable for all audiences. You can follow the event  in person if you book in advance. Alternatively, you can watch it on your TV or computer, since many of the concerts and activities will be broadcast on TV or streamed on social media.

If you want to start with street arts, the Mercè Arts de Carrer (MAC Festival), you won’t want to miss the show by Yurdance in the grounds of Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau. This integrated dance company are performing as part of the El moviment emociona shows , breaking down stereotypes by testing the apparent limits of their bodies and showing that an obstacle can be an excuse to create extreme beauty.

This isn’t the only MAC Festival show that will move you. There are all sorts of others. For instance, have you seen El silenci d’Hamelin, by the Farrés Brothers? Well, there’s no time to waste in discovering their version of this tale, where a girl who has no hearing becomes the protagonist of a universal story.

More options? Make a note of them, because among the shows you really mustn't miss are productions as interesting as Oyun, a display of juggling and sculpture (yes, you read that right) by the artist El Fedito: Liov, a dance production by Diego Sinniger's company IN-motus Co. about love and abuse; modern-day versions of classic narratives such as Els Tres Porquets, La Rateta and La Caputxeta by Estaquirot Teatre; the impressive hair-hanging choreography by Laura & Francesca in A Beautiful Surprise; companies like La Industrial Teatrera, who will show you how to start over again after turning you into shipwrecked souls in Naufrags; the documentary created in real time Excalibur i altres històries d’animals morts, by Hermanas Picohueso; and the traditional circus show by La Bella Tour.

Big names in circus and contemporary movement such as Manolo Alcántara (Asimetria i Perpetua vigilia); not-to-be-missed names from the Barcelona dance scene such as Mar Gómez, who will be presenting the theatre-dance piece on sexism Sempreviva; such successful companies devoted to the art of the clown as Rhum & Cia (don’t miss Gran reserva); and groups like Parking Shakespeare, who have brought us the English tradition of performing Shakespeare’s works in public spaces, all forming part of this year's MAC Festival programme .

In an even broader programme, the list of recommendations also includes little gems such as Rojo, the hugely fun show by the ineffable Mireia Miracle; the highly unusual and unclassifiable New Zealand clown Trygve Wakenshaw (whose Nautilus will leave you lost for words); the theatre and music production ¡Play! by Ual•la!: and the balancing and circus acts of Sociéte LPF events and the young Ukrainian artist Veronika Goroshkova. These are just some of the shows to bear in mind when it comes to choosing a street arts show, to which we can add Violeta Iriberri's delicate dance show (Ese pájaro no puede estar en esta plaza) and the many performances by the artists of Pallassos Sense Fronteres (Fin Fan Fon, Maite Guevara, Els Barlou, and Pallasses del Món., among others) in different quadrangles in the Eixample district.

Interested in music? If you want to discover something new, check out the programme for the Barcelona Acció Musical (BAM Festival), with shows brought to us by the singer and keyboard player Lu Rois, Siwo and their Afro-futurist electronic sound, and Victor Herrero with his captivating songs. 

Performances by well-established musicians include a premiere of the new style rumbero Joan Garriga and his Mariatxi Galàctic; the Majorcan singer Maika Makovski; Maria del Mar Bonet, who after many years once again teams up with guitarist Toti Soler ; a tribute to Xavi Turull, the now departed creator of the “Barcelona sound”, with the participation of some notable performers; the marvellous voice somewhere between tradition and modernity of Maria Rodés; and new voices on the urban music scene such as the rapper Jazzwoman and Tribade. But if you're a jazz lover and you want to see something exceptional, we recommend you don't overlook the Barcelona trumpet player Raynald Colom who, with the help of a symphony orchestra made up of young people from the Vozes project, will be offering the first live performance in Spain of the legendary Miles Davis disc Sketches of Spain. It will be quite a special occasion for trumpet lovers.

However, the city’s annual festival wouldn’t be complete without some traditional notes. Hence our recommendations, which include the Toc de la Mercè in Plaça de Sant Jaume on 23 September (replacing the classic Toc d’inici this very unusual year), and the three days of Dansa tradicional performed by dance groups and cobla music formations at the Palauet Albéniz (24, 26, and 27 September).

Do you want to see a really traditional exhibition? Come along to El Born CCM on the festival days to see the city’s fire beasts and dragons at the Exposició de Dracs i Bèsties de foc; visit the City Hall foyer and see the figures from the city’s popular entourage in the Exposició del Seguici Popular; or go and see the giants on display at the Pati Manning (Mostra de Gegants), or other popular cultural favourites (Mostres de cultura popular) making their way around the city’s districts over the coming days, including Ocellaire, an asexual giant symbolising freedom and the first city giant to be adapted for people with reduced mobility to carry. This is just one example of how inclusion features in the city’s festive imagery. In a similar vein, last year’s Mercè also christened Normag, the city's first giant with Down's Syndrome.

Enjoy the festivities to the full, in a celebration that's for everybody.