We wanted to be a gang. A gang of anarchists keen to take justice into our own hands. Our jokes are the result of the battle we have been waging with society for the last forty years. Just like our theatre.
Els Joglars. La guerra dels 40 anys. (The war of 40 years)
1977. Organisation of various street performances in the village of El Pla de Santa Maria (Tarragona) where a referendum was being held into changing the names of the streets (Plaza Francisco Franco or calle Carrero Blanco). The event ended up with the village divided just as in the Civil War and the referendum was suspended. Pla de Santa Maria was one of the last towns and villages to change the street names.
The intention of the organisers was that we should represent in each street a brief history of its old traditional name, but rather than do this we chose to perform a ferocious parody of the names the streets had at that time. Naturally the names were the same as everywhere else: Francisco Franco, Carrero Blanco, José Antonio, General Aranda, etc.
The stage was set up on a trailer drawn by a tractor, which moved through the village while the villagers followed. (…) I still can’t understand how it was possible to finish the acts without the Guàrdia Civil bursting onto the scene, for the climax of this cathartic witches’ coven took place before two thousand people in the Plaza del Generalísimo, where an incredibly camp General Aranda conversed with “His Excremency”, who from out of his tomb gave demented instructions and complained of the ingratitude of those ’yokels’ disposed to wipe them off the map. At the end some figures danced joyfully with the coffin of the dictator, to the rhythm of “Mi jaca galopa y corta el viento…”, while he was threatening to return.
Naturally the names could not be changed, because our intervention re-ignited amongst the people of the village the hatreds of the Civil War.
(Memòries d’un Bufó. Albert Boadella)
Monsenyor Antonio Mª Rouco, archbishop of Santiago de Compostela in 1987 did not like the work Teledeum (1983). Thus, we handed over to him a cheque for 10,000 pesetas so he could buy a new censer. Mystifyingly, he never cashed the cheque.
Later, we sent a fridge to a critic, Sr Benach, because he said that Bye, bye Beethoven was a very cold production. It was an enormous, enormous fridge. So big that the concierge opened the door to the house and we left it in the hall. When Benach discovered the origin of the joke he wanted the Museu del Teatre to come and collect the fridge. That was good.
La Vanguardia, 03/10/1987
Bye, Bye Beethoven in the fridge
The last 45 minutes of the show are, it seems to me, the most successful, the most charming and also the best structured minutes of an excessively cold work which unfolds in front of the spectator without amusing (as in M-7 Catalònia), without unnerving (as in Olympic Man Movement) and without the fascinating breath of Mary d’Ous. Boadella has crammed his contaminating Beethoven in a fridge.
The La Vanguardia journalist Oriol Domingo acted as inquisitor of Albert Boadella and the company for a certain time. One day he received this missive addressed to the general fax of the paper.
SEXGOLD PARADISE OF TEMPTATIONS SEXGOLD
DISTINGUISHED AND DISCRETE
C/ Tuset, 1
209 42 13
Sr. Oriol Domingo:
Having tried unsuccessfully to contact you via the address and telephone number you left in the clients’ index card of our establishment, which on further checking correspond to a certain Sr. Jordi Bonet, we have managed to discover through the efforts of an information agency that you work for this newspaper.
Before taking the matter any further we are making one final effort in order to convince you to settle the outstanding debt you have with our establishment. The old trick of availing yourself of the services of our young ladies and subsequently claiming to have left your credit card at home you have resorted to repeatedly, abusing in this way our trust and goodwill towards our clients.
No doubt you recognise that it is in your best interests to pay off this debt promptly, for the treatment meted out by yourself to the young ladies Raquel and Bea, could well be the subject of criminal charges; for while ‘golden rain’ is one thing, obliging them to keep their heads in the toilet bowl while you defecate is quite another. You may rest assured that we are in possession of documentary proof of this for we are a highly professional company, who will not tolerate vexatious behaviour, particularly in cases such as yours where no payment has been made.
Once more we urge you to settle your outstanding debt. Otherwise you may be quite sure that we shall take such step as we consider opportune (judicial, naturally).
VISA, EUROCARD, AMERICAN EXPRESS, MASTERCARD
The newspaper ABC always distinguished itself with its apocalyptic articles deriding the works of Els Joglars. In the case of Yo tengo un tío en América the review they published (in which the public were ridiculed as being unbalanced) in the programme for the performance.
Boadella presents his most boring outpouring in El Albéniz
(…) If with such resources his intention is to impress and he achieves it, our compassion stirred by the draining away of the always limited ingenuity of the mystifier and callow scandal hunter that Boadella has always been must be transferred to those few unhappy souls who cry out “bravo!” when offered such an inept work. In short, “Yo tengo un tío en América” is the most appalling piece of humbug that Boadella, a specialist in humbug, has yet produced. The boredom it provokes is only comparable to the fatigue engendered by sitting through it. Inconceivable if it is not done under obligation, the case of this reviewer, of for reasons of mental illness, the case of those members of the audience who witnessed the latest scandal-mongering defecation of this astute Catalan. It is to be feared that most will simply be bored and only the naive will be scandalised. Are there any left?
Lorenzo López Sancho
Vic, 4 de febrero de 1992
Sr. D. Luís Mª Ansón
Director de ABC
Deeply moved by the review which appeared in the newspaper you edit, which dealt with our production “Yo tengo un tío en América”, we have decided to reproduce and distribute it together with the programme to all those members of the public who attend, since being qualified by the text as being mentally ill they will swiftly appreciate the objectivity of your newspaper and urgently seek medical treatment.
This literary piece, of great value, is undoubtedly one of the best of those your publication has for many years now been bestowing on us. For us these pieces have come to form an authentic literary anthology, reaching, or almost, the heights of those dedicated to us by the much mourned newspaper “El Alcázar”, (R.I.P.)
We would only like to express our desire that the writer Lorenzo López Sancho enjoys many centuries of life for the greater glory of Hispanic literature.
Director de Els Joglars
The season of performances of Yo tengo un tío en América at the Odeon Theatre in Paris turned out to be so unpleasant as a result of the arrogant and bureaucratic treatment we received from this institution that it subsequently inspired the creation of the following production, El Nacional. However, before leaving the theatre the company made its feelings clear in a message left on the walls.
The road that leads to Pruit is not too bad now. Very good in fact, considering the state of the country as a whole. But it has not always been thus. At one time it was more potholes than road. We lent our voices to the protests of the council and the local residents, we drew the matter to public attention, the usual things. Until one day we got fed up. In fact it was one night. Out of papier mâché we made some life-sized gravestones and inscribed on them the names of the members of the Government of Catalunya. We phoned the TV stations and they all came. Even TV3. On the gravestone of the Secretary General of the Presidency of the time we added the name of his lover. When the news, and especially this gravestone, appeared on TV, it certainly had quite an effect.
1985. Earliest protests about the deplorable state of the Vic-Olot road, the road used by Els Joglars to get to La Cúpula and El Llorà.
1989. Second protest action about the state of the C-153 road between Vic and Olot. 16 gravestones were installed bearing the names of the members of the Government of the Generalitat and prominent political personalities connected with Convergència i Unió (the governing party).
1990. Els Joglars undertook a third protest, together with local residents, calling for repairs to be made to the C-153 Vic-Olot road. A campaign of painted slogans such as: “Roman Road”, “Cart Track”, “Danger! Holes!”, “Safer on Foot”.
Finally the road was repaired and upgraded with the work being done in 4 phases, and at a total cost of 53 million pesetas, by the Roads Department of the Generalitat. More than sixty people attended the grand supper organised by Els Joglars to celebrate the asphalting of the road. All the guests were nominated Knights of the C-153 and received a medal that represented a pothole.
Els Joglars register the name of TEATRE NACIONAL DE CATALUNYA and invite all Catalan theatre companies to become part. Support for the action is quickly received from Comediants, La Cubana, La Fura dels Baus, Dagoll-Dagom, Tricicle and others. This initiative aimed to take the wind out of the sails of the project to build the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya, to be directed by Josep Mª Flotats, promoted by the Generalitat. In this way it set its face against the idea that the artistic line to be followed in Catalunya should be that laid down by the politicians.
Letter sent to the newspapers:
WE ARE MORE SOLVENT THAN THE EXISTING GENERALITAT
In recent times the frivolity of the political classes when dealing with cultural matters has begun to produce indignation. Apart from putting up with the arbitrary doling out of public resources in this area we are also expected to sit back and watch the creation of prestige projects, for the justification of which any banality will do so long as it involves appearing in the media, the only reason the politicians of today are interested in culture.
All of which is done with flagrant disregard for the real necessities, most of which are obviously not so spectacular.
Today, the only contact between the cultural administrators and theatre professionals is when they make us pass through the hoop, often in a denigrating way, of begging for money, as if we were members of the governing party; these bureaucrats have never understood that in fact it is they who are supposed to serve us, and not the other way around.
The so-called Teatre Nacional de Catalunya forms part of this initiative, drowning beneath the astronomic sums of money bestowed on it and setting out on the one hand to bring greater glory to its creators, and on the other, to synthesise, to homogenise and to officialise Catalan theatre or rather, one concept of theatre.
Els Joglars, as a clearly independent creative group, are not prepared to sit back docilely and accept the brilliant ideas of our politicians in the artistic realm. We do not want the future of the theatre in this country to lie in the hands of a bunch of politically appointed civil servants who, from their offices, will set out to interpret the wishes of their megalomaniac bosses by dedicating themselves to inventing generously funded initiatives that compete unfairly with those funded by private initiatives, the only form of truly free creativity.
(…) Faced then with a new threat to monopolise Catalan theatre, we believed it to be appropriate to register and occupy the name ‘Teatre Nacional de Catalunya’, which will, from now on, accompany the name ‘Els Joglars’. Our proposal is an open one and we thus offer access to all those groups that create genuinely Catalan theatre. The need, or not, for a National Theatre is doubtless open for discussion, but faced with the possibility of the exclusive usurping of the concept by the Government, we have decided to make our opinion felt in a practical way.
Our proposal offers great advantages in comparison with the official initiative: firstly, it is much more economic, since there is no need to invest any money at all. It is also more secure since it can represent the exact dimension of present day Catalan theatre. It is broader given that many of the groups who might form part travel abroad, becoming in this way true cultural ambassadors for Catalunya. It is a proposal of proven solvency, at least in our case we have been running now for 28 years, quite a few more than the Generalitat itself.
If the politicians, then, wish to construct a pharaonic edifice to display their favourite artistic works, they should know that it will not be called the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya, it will only be a building; the Teatre Nacional will be all of us who produce Catalan theatre.
Punt (Girona) 8/11/1989
ELS JOGLARS AND SEVEN OTHER GROUPS ADOPT THE NAME “TEATRE NACIONAL DE CATALUNYA”
Albert Boadella says the initiative is a mini ‘coup d’êtat’ against the theatre policy of the Generalitat. He considers that the Catalan national theatre is made up of all those groups that produce original theatre in this country. Neither Xavier Bru de Sala nor Josep M. Flotats wished to make any comment regarding the proposal presented in Girona.
Els Joglars renounce the National Theatre Prize 1994, worth 2,500,000 pesetas, for the creation and production of El Nacional, because they consider that the recognition came too late.