Why is the Almagro International Festival of Classical Theatre held here?
Almagro: Just over two hours drive from Madrid. Almagro is a historical city along the Don Quixote route. A place where you can also practice wine tourism, since it is located in the environment of the Denomination of Origin of La Mancha wines.
Almagro International Festival of Classical Theatre
Did you know? Almagro International Festival of Classical Theatre is one of the most renowned ones in the category of Theatre all over the world. Consider it a ‘go to’ event every year by millions of Theatre lovers! Visual Arts is something not everybody understands and feels the beauty it holds; like that is pretty much a known fact right? Not everyone understands the depth and meaning this kind of art holds and well, for those who do; they for sure know it is beyond words… This year, it’s taking place from the 5th of July till 29th of July 2018. Yes, it’s happening, and you don’t want to miss it!
Now, let’s take a look at the origin of this popular event that takes place in Spain and how it gradually evolved. The first Jornadas de Teatro Clásico Español (Spanish Classical Theatre Conference) were held in 1978. Promoted by Rafael Pérez Sierra, who was the General Director of Theatre and Performances of the Ministry of Culture at that point in time. In those days of the conference in Almagro, we could see relevant figures of various fields of the theatre industry; ranging from the critics to the poetic creation.
The very purpose of this conference was to ease the gap between the academic sector and theatre on stage, as well as to give continuity to the summer performances that took place in the Corral de Comedias; but that’s not all! The main reason was to showcase an entirely new revived image to the Spanish Classical Theatre and hinder rejections which were initially made by the progressive critics and the diverse spectators. Well, now we see they had their own way of regeneration and guess what? It worked!
Corral de Comedias
The reason why the Almagro International Festival of Classical Theatre is celebrated here comes from the moment Golden Age playhouse was declared to be the Historical-Artistic Monument in 1955- along with its restoration between the years 1953 and 1962. Well now that’s interesting to know isn’t it?
In addition to the Conferences, the symbolic setting of El Corral de Comedias includes three Performances:
- Medora by Lope de Rueda, accompanied by the Real Escuela Superior de Arte Dramático de Madrid (RESAD)
- La estrella de Sevilla by Lope de Vega, directed by Alberto González Vergel.
- El despertar a quien duerme by Lope de Vega, directed by José Luis Alonso.
Together with The Spanish dances of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, directed by Gregorio Paniagua.
As a result of the success of the Conferences and Performances, the Almagro International Classical Theatre Festival was born one year later. El Corral de Comedias continued to be the main stage. Even more, the festival has become important after the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the death of Calderón de la Barca in 1981. It has thus become the backbone of the attraction of a larger number of spectators.
The National Classic Theatre Company
It’s also true that due to the backing by the Festival and the importance and popularity acquired, the National Classic Theatre Company (CNTC) was then formed in Almagro, being inspired by the Festival and with the purpose to continue the means of staging the Golden Age authors. The Festival and the CNTC share common goals, mutual recognition, and complement each other working together within cohesion for the sake of the Classics.
The festival led to the creation of yet another cultural landmark, which is the National Theatre Museum. In 1989, Almagro is designated as the hosting location of a museum dedicated to the history of theatre. The Festival has evolved in such a way that it has now acquired an international identity until it became a world-class showcase for international companies.
Moreover, it is a spectacular opportunity for the Festival’s spectators to witness the finest stage-plays of a map which trails the classical and contemporary views on the Baroque theatre.
As there is a diversity regarding award distribution; a myriad of artists have visited Almagro and given their share in spreading beauty and significance of the Baroque heritage. Adding more to knowledge; Since the year 2005, these awards have changed their names into Premios Corral de Comedias. International celebrities like Michel Piccoli, Vanessa Redgrave, Norma Aleandro, Declan Donellan, José Carlos Plaza, and Francisco Nieva have have opted for the award.
It is exciting to note that in the most recent editions, more than 50,000 people on average come to the Festival each year to visit and well of course; enjoy performances, exhibitions, events and awards ceremonies or to attend workshops, conferences, meetings, or various other activities.
The Festival has led to important works of rehabilitation and renovation being practiced, which are of symbolic means of the city for the enhancement of its Historical-Artistic Heritage. Presently, there are 19 different spaces such as; Corral de Comedias, Hospital de San Juan, Silo, Plaza Mayor and others. These are the areas for; exhibitions halls, meetings, representations, workshops and other events. Well, now isn’t that astonishing? Different venues and each providing the audience with its own unique exposure.
Today, we can see that Almagro has been transformed into this amazing world theatre stage. whereby the life of baroque is quite evident as it shines on every part there which highly reflects the diverse culture, wisdom, and emotions. As in previous years, the Almagro International Classical Theatre Festival brings together theatre directors from Latin America and Europe. The aim is toto forge networks and encourage the internationalization of Spanish Theatres and to promote exchanges and Spanish plays globally.
The 41st edition of the festival this year aims to foresee the international managers attend various shows. They are part of the official program as well along with those featured in the international children’s Baroque competition and the 6th Almagro Off competition. This year-round, the theatre Managers invited with much delight are; Marion Potts, Australian Council and Shakespeare Bell Company, Carlos José Reyes, Colombian Academy of History and Colombian Language Academy (Bogota), Norbert Rakowski. Director Opole Theatre (Poland), Lembit Peterson. Director of THEATRUM, Karl Hegemann (Volksbühne Berlín).
The event successfully brings together over 60,000 members for an exciting cultural experience. Now it has become a distinguished summer festival that is held every year in July for 25 days and begins in the historic centre of Castilla-La Mancha, the land of Don Quixote.
Now let’s head over to the objectives of this Theatre Festival that is so popular across the globe.
- Highlighting the mains; to rescue, preserve, praise, revalue, modernize and disseminate the vast heritage of the universal classical theatre of the 16th and 17th centuries, with immense focus on the Spanish Baroque theatre.
- Then, to promote the meeting; the exchange of ideas and reflections among creators of various performing arts fields.
- The third is to contribute to the creation of new audiences. A child or an elderly individual, facilitating their approach and encounter with the classics and so on.
- Fourth is to develop an adequate space for excellence. By selecting numerous productions to showcase a wide national and international spectrum.
- Fifth is to carry out works for and by theatre professionals, from young professionals to well-established artists. To bring the Golden Age closer to the modern-day thinking, and sensitivity.
- Sixth is to pay various tributes through the Premio Corral de Comedias. To those acclaimed artists who have contributed to the projection and the concern for the Baroque Theatre.
- Seventh is to encourage the development of new performance venues. This refers to getting involved in their restoration. Finally, the last objective is to highlight the presence of baroque theatre throughout the world, along with promoting the Festival’s role worldwide. There is also a selection in each of the editions of a Guest of Honour Country. India, Italy and Germany have been Guest of Honour Countries in previous editions.
Creation of a new audience is what the Festival strives to achieve each year, buzzing up millions of potential spectators around the world. This is of course when those individuals adhere to the importance of liberal arts itself. The festival authorities affirm that measures have been taken to improve accessibility. Taking into account the wide range of spectators coming from all over the world.
Firstly, there is access for people with relatively less mobility. All the venues of the Festival are adapted for people with the issue of mobility.
Secondly, the Almagro International Classical Theatre Festival offers a theatrical audio-description system for specific performances for the visually impaired.
Therefore this facility enables visually impaired people to have a deeper understanding of what is happening on stage. The audience, already visually impaired, are able to hear a voice-over describing the relevant visual content of the performance. . This way, an individual can enjoy the best surround sound comfortably. It’s certainly a perfect measure for such individuals and a matter of happiness that they don’t have to lose out on the whole experience.
Subtitles – captions
Not only this, but they also have Subtitles captions for deaf and hard of hearing people. The Almagro International Festival of Classical Theatre offers a service of captions and subtitles for specific performances. This service allows deaf and hard of hearing spectators have a deeper understanding of what is happening on stage.
Moreover, the caption-presentation system provides character identification through colors as well as information about sound and the dialogue intonation. In this case, the best viewing option will depend on the venue seat plan. Furthermore, there is a magnetic hearing loop for deaf and hard-hearing people. This means that the users of hearing aids (hearing aid or cochlear implant) can hear the sounds of the performance through the use of an individual loop system. A digital radio frequency system provides sound transmission to all the individual headphones. Cool, isn’t it?
Plays such as Hamlet, Macbeth (in the image), Julius Caeser and The Phantom Lady have been performed in the pas, and many well-known classics are more in store this year. This festival has been phenomenal over the past years and continues to be by its ever-lasting hinge of creativity and art. A living fantasy…yes!
There’s also a great hotel located within the vicinity of 2 km of the festival, namely Parador De Almagro. It has air conditioning in communal areas, Cafe/bar, located in the Central location. They accept credit cards, have a garden, a lift, a Picturesque location. Nearby you can get a Public transport, a Restaurant, Shops, Swimming pool, Terrace and much more. Yes folks, you don’t have to worry about a place nearby to head over and clamp your feet to relax!
The Festival not only contributes to the preservation of traditions of the historical heritage but also caters to open windows of new proposals, always from a perspective of excellence. Well, no wonder that it enjoys prestige on an international level, becoming a leading cultural event without any doubt. The Festival continues to be a fundamental instrument in the course of artistic history; it is a significant reference and a networking spot for creators, academics, and visitors of a myriad of age groups, nationalities, and profiles.
The event forges the dynamics of urban spaces through culture spectacularly! A mix of color, mess, drama, applauses, critics, emotions and hard work, it’s all bestowed on us by this event which makes many go in awe.
So here’s advice for all of you out there, aiming to head over to European region for vacations or are a Spanish Couch Potato or are simply passing nearby; Just stop right there and go to this once-a-year event and witness the astounding visuals and a . And guess what? They are offering some discounts too. So, what are you waiting for? If you bleed the art of drama and visual art, you are surely going to love it, and yes you won’t regret. That’s a promise!