For the last three weeks the sleepy village of Santolaya de Cabranes (pop. 174) has been home to 26 university students drawn from the four corners of Spain, participants in a summer theatre workshop camp which culminated in a hugely successful performance of ‘teatro en la calle’ on Friday night.
The picturesque village served perfectly as the set for the performance, with a total of ten ‘stages’ dotted throughout, hosting ten different set-pieces that were reprised time and again as the audience was guided in carefully timed groups round the theatrical trail.
The theme of the show was ‘retratando el pasado’ – portraying the past. An apt theme for a production in a locality that is very much rooted in tradition, despite having some not inconsiderable modern trappings (e.g. the fastest fibre-optic broadband I’ve ever come across anywhere in the world!)
The show itself is only one part of the story however. The three week programme as a whole also tells a more contemporary tale of Spanish culture – a tale of collaboration, community and cross-generation co-operation.
The theatre camp (for the third year running) is sponsored by the local council. The students spend the three weeks of the camp sleeping in bunk beds in the village sports hall, being fed in the local bar, visiting some of the outstanding local attractions and learning about Asturian tradition from the very heart of elderly Asturians. In addition to all this, from 5pm – 7pm every day they offer their services as child entertainers for the very young in the village square.
The final show, product of this cross-generational collaboration, showcases the talents of the local children and old folk as well as the visiting students who all contribute to the set, costume and poster production in addition to performing. The players in the performance itself number 80 and range in age from 8 to 80.
Even those without a theatrical bone in their body willingly contribute their time and skills. My elderly neighbour Julián, for example, manned the sidra (cider, the typical Asturian tipple) stall, pouring ‘culines’ gratis for footsore and thirsty street theatre-goers. Contributing something, whatever you have to offer, is the name of the game.