For the various processes planned for each production, the isolation in the countryside and the daily proximity of all those who participate, enhance the concentration, the efficiency and the continuity of the creative process by cutting out external interference. When preparing the production of Mary d’Ous in June 1972, the company installed themselves in the village of Pruit, establishing a system of work which has become definitive.
In 1976 a geodesic dome, the cúpula, was built in Pruit (100 km from Barcelona) which offered a space that met the artistic needs of the group. La Torna was the first work prepared there.
In 1983 the company bought El Llorà, a property in Pruit-Rupit (3 km. from Rupit and 6 km from the cúpula). The house dates from 1930 and was designed by the architect Francesc Folguera for the bourgeois Tecla Sala family. The house accommodates the group while a production is being prepared.
The rehearsal space is a polyester dome that stands just to the west of the church and cemetery in Pruit. This sacred spot stands on a rise that gives views in all four directions over the magical setting that is Collsacabra. Since the dome does not have any internal supporting structure it offers a completely clear round space, without any preconceived orientation; this in turn determines the spatial correlation of the working method, which does not have any directions marked when work begins. The cúpula is an empty space, a creative womb impregnated with possibilities that progressively appear out of the actors’ improvisations.
The existence and the characteristics of this space demonstrate clearly the importance of the concept of space in the work of the company. Or to put it another way, the cúpula reveals Albert Boadella’s special sensibility with regard to space. And here I am not referring to his sensibility towards the spaces his productions require, nor to their final staging. Rather I am speaking about the importance he has always given to the place where the creative work is done.
The geodesic dome is a space in which the centre is the actor, the real source out of which the drama must flow. Clean, at the moment of beginning the creative process, the space throws up questions at the same time as encouraging the magical confluence of the multitude of interactive spatial possibilities. It is a space without pre-established stage directions that determine and shape the movements of the actors nor does it present a pre-set perspective for the person who has to conduct the work with the double vision of both miracle worker and spectator, that is, the director. The outside world, when necessary, disappears, though the constant evidence provided by the technological installation that is also the cúpula ensures that reality remains healthily within reach. A technological installation capable of meeting all that is required by the production process, from the initial emptiness to the progressive composition of spatial directions, the introduction of elements and the incorporation of lighting and sound when necessary. In fact, when an Els Joglars production leaves the geodesic dome it is finished and rehearsed down to the finest detail, both artistically and technically (though the distinction between these two is difficult to define in this company) and ready to be loaded onto the lorries that will carry the show to its first destination.
The idea that the spaces within which a production is created condition, with their atmosphere and their dimensions, many of the ideas that spring from the inventiveness of the actors and the director is quite easy to accept when you see Els Joglars at work in the cúpula. The frontality, the real three-dimensionality, the verticality of a space determine even more than might be thought the results of the group’s dramatic inventiveness. Leaving imagination to one side, the physical space conditions the physical disposition of the creators.
Las condiciones físicas que uno determina para el trabajo dice mucho del concepto que uno tiene de este trabajo. Uno puede apreciar hoy en los distintos espacios diseñados ya expresamente para el trabajo teatral en nuestra casa, a menudo con muchos medios, una buena distancia conceptual con el de Boadella. Entre la cúpula geodésica en medio de la naturaleza y, por ejemplo, las aulas de interpretación del nuevo Instituto del Teatro de Barcelona, ubicadas en un subterráneo cuatro pisos por debajo del nivel de la calle, sin ninguna conexión con el exterior cercana, hay una visión distinta del tempo de la creación.
The physical conditions one sets for theatrical works speak volumes for the concept one has of this work. Today, it is possible to appreciate in the custom-built theatre spaces in Catalunya, often lavishly conceived, a substantial conceptual distance between them and the theatrical conception of Boadella. Between the geodesic dome surrounded by nature and, for example, the acting classes of the new Institut de Teatre in Barcelona, set in a basement four floors below street level, totally cut off from the world just outside, there lies a difference in the vision of the tempo of the creativity. Between the black box that leaves the actors permanently subjected to the power of spotlights, and always with a wall nearby, in a space whose depth is tangible and ever present, as in the outlandishly designed theatre spaces of one of the most important schools of drama in Europe, and the luminous space, with its complete absence of directional coercion that is the cúpula in Pruit, there is a gulf in terms of the possibility of finding the creative tempo of the actor and the director.
Seeing the work of creating within the dome one can’t help thinking that what seems like the living space of ‘B’ film extraterrestrials is an excellent place in which to recreate the world with a perspective that is distant yet at the same time seriously committed. With the distance, why not, of an orbiting space station, with Els Joglars reviewing the world from within their dome, perplexed like the MIR astronauts who while circling the Earth saw their country disappromear. Seeing the world as some distant thing that is continually changing in order to continue, God willing, the same as before, or worse.
— Joan Abellan
With time, the work complex of Els Joglars was completed with the setting up of a residence not far from the cúpula, where the team live during the process of creating a new production. El Llorà, with its comfortable rooms, spaces for relaxing and for working meetings, with a large open space around the house for sports and other outdoor activities, has made Els Joglars into an international point of reference. At El Llorà, Els Joglars have given courses and even, as we shall see in later chapters, produced hyper-realistic dramatic simulations of matters connected with some of the company’s productions.
Sharing everyday life with the members of Els Joglars at El Llorà during periods of creative work one glimpses the value of time and space as ‘natural’ elements for the regulation of mental and physical energy required by their working methods.
— Joan Abellan
On arriving on the upland plateau of Collsacabra, the road descends gently towards Rupit; three kilometres before the village, where a broad track leads off to the left, there is a sign indicating El Llorà. The track runs through woodland until, on reaching a clearing, a splendid mansion appears surrounded by enormous spruce trees, sequoias and cedars.
In early 1983 el Bufón was offered the chance to buy the property by one of the sons of the owner, with whom he had a very good relationship. This man’s grandmother, Doña Tecla Sala, a wealthy widow with substantial textile interests, commissioned the architect Francesc Folguera to build the house, completed in 1935, as well as the landscaping of the surroundings which were transformed into an immense park. The architect, an enormously cultivated man, responsible in later years for the Mussolinian façade of the basilica at Montserrat, took his inspiration for this commission from the theories and works of his Czech counterpart, Adolf Loos, taking great pains to produce a highly comfortable, though austere, house.
The design of the rooms and installations is a paragon of good sense. El Llorà is built on a small rise, giving the house incomparable panoramic views from the massif of Montseny to the Pyrenees. The rear façade presides over a broad swathe of lawn, with small ornamental ponds in the middle and rows of majestic cedars on either side forming a splendid avenue. At the end of this miniature Versailles is a tennis court and a large swimming pool surrounded by spruce trees.
Memories of a Jester.