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À louer
© Herman Sorgeloos À louer

The best of the Grec Festival 2015

Barcelona's biggest cultural festival sees dance, music and theatre take over the city throughout July

By Time Out Barcelona Editors

The Grec Festival is Barcelona's largest cultural event of the year, with dance, music and theatre filling the city's venues. We've taken a look at the huge, month-long programme, and below you'll find our picks.

Vorònia, La Veronal
© Edu Pérez

1. Dance: Vorònia


La Veronal. Dir. Marcos Morau. Dramaturgy: Pablo Gisbert - El Conde de Torrefiel. Dancers: Joaquín Collado, Jony López, Joachim Maudet, Lorena Nogal, Shay Partush, Manuel Rodríguez, Marina Rodríguez and Giacomo Todeschi.

After transporting us to Siena, Russia, Iceland and Japan, dance company La Veronal plunges into the darkness and shadows that hold sway in the depths of the Voronja cave, an underground cavern more than 2,000 metres deep, located in Georgia in the Western Caucasus. It’s the ideal setting for an exploration of evil such as the one embarked upon by La Veronal – a company with an international reputation that is directed by Marcos Morau – which was formed in 2005 by a group of artists from the worlds of dance, film, photography and literature in search of new forms of expression.

La voix humaine
© Jan Versweyveld

2. Theatre: La voix humaine ('The human voice')


Author: Jean Cocteau. Translation: Peter van Kraaij, Halina Reijn. Director: Ivo van Hove. Dramaturgy: Peter van Kraaij. Actor: Halina Reijn.

Barcelona audiences got to know Ivo van Hove and his company thanks to the performance 'Tragèdies romanes' (Grec 2013) and, the following year, in 'The Fountainhead'. This year, however, they will get to see a more intimate approach from this stage director in a classic 20th-century play written by Jean Cocteau. The Dutch actress Halina Reijn is the sole performer in this story of a woman talking on the phone with her lover, who she is desperately trying to convince not to leave her. She's a great theatre, film and TV actress who, in Van Hove's vision, is seen behind a window. As such, the audience is invited to spy on the intimacy of a sentimental tragedy, a dialogue in which the breakdowns in communication create a heart-breaking monologue. This production has not been seen in Barcelona before and demonstrates a new aspect of Ivo van Hove's work, far from the spectacular, large-scale creations that he's brought to the city in the past – instead it's intimate, intense and captivating. (In Dutch with Catalan surtitles.)


3. MiniGrec: Faboo

Kids Performance

Simplicity is the key in this show created by a specialist in theatre and television programmes for children. All he needs is an empty plastic drum to create the head and face of an innocent, curious character with a child-like spirit, who explores his surroundings and interacts with various objects. Two actresses give life to Faboo, a unique being and the protagonist of this 'theatre of objects' show where the imaginations of the spectators play as important a part as the figure on the stage in front of them. See how Faboo discovers the world around him and learn about how many things can be explained with just a few objects and a lot of creativity. From five years.

2015 com a possibilitat
© Emilia Stefani Law

4. Theatre: 2015 com a possibilitat ('2015 as a possibility')


Concept and direction: Didier Ruiz. Choreography: Tomeo Vergés.

This is not the first time that stage director Didier Ruiz and choreographer Tomeo Vergés have created a show based on their work with groups of teenagers. They did it in Paris in 2013, in Avignon in 2014, and now come to Barcelona with an event that involves pupils from three of the city’s secondary schools. Over the last three months, students have voluntarily attended workshops, learning to move on stage, to project their voices and to master the techniques they need in order to express their thoughts. They will talk to us about the city and their neighbourhood, their relationships with each other, their dreams and their daily lives, becoming at once actors and witnesses of their own transition to adulthood. Do they feel accepted by others? What do they think about love? What do they expect from the future? We will find out in a stage show in which young people speak directly to the audience, but also listen and make themselves heard. The city, the world and life, through teenage eyes. (In Spanish and Catalan.)

Diego el Cigala
© Anya Bartels-Suermondt

5. Music: Diego el Cigala

Music Latin and world

It’s no accident that El Cigala has chosen a piano-only accompaniment for his show at the Teatre Grec: the piano marked a turning point in his career. He encountered it in 2000, thanks to the great Bebo Valdés, with whom he recorded one of the most important albums of his career, Lágrimas negras. Meeting the legendary Cuban pianist was a gift, above all because Valdés revealed to the singer the vast potential of a musical instrument that he has rarely been separated from since. After Bebo, El Cigala enlisted the musician’s piano-playing son, Chucho Valdés, and then Caramelo de Cuba. Since 2005, however, he has been accompanied by Jaime Calabuch, 'Yumitus', from Barcelona’s gypsy community. He will be helping him revisit his greatest hits, playing styles from zambra to tango and bolero.

En avant, marche!
© Phile Deprez

6. Music & Theatre: En avant, marche! ('Forward, march!')


Director: Frank Van Laecke, Alain Platel. Dramaturgy: Koen Haagdorens. Actors: Chris Thys, Griet Debacker, Hendrik Lebon, Wim Opbrouck, Gregory Van Seghbroeck (tuba), Jan D’Haene (trumpet), Jonas Van Hoeydonck (trumpet), Lies Vandeburie (flugelhorn), Niels Van Heertum (euphonium), Simon Van Hueting (horn), Witse Lemmens (percussion), and the Barcelona Municipal Band.

Bands, orchestras and musical associations have a long history in Barcelona and Catalonia. The same is also true of the Belgian city of Gant, where, in 2012, a local musician created an exhibition on the subject entitled 'En avant, marche!' ('Forward, march!'). This show in turn provided inspiration for theatre directors Frank Van Laecke and Alain Platel, who decided to create a performance about this world with the collaboration of composer Steven Prengels. The three men have produced a stage show that looks at a diverse group with a common aim: to maintain a single rhythm. Isn't that the perfect metaphor for our societies? Four actors and seven musicians, plus the Barcelona Municipal Band, bring this innovative production to life in which the participants exchange roles, acting and playing different instruments, sometimes ones that the audience might least expect. (Multilingual performance.)


7. Music: José James

Music Funk, soul and disco

In this centenary of the birth of Billie Holiday, a voice from the new generation pays tribute to her, proving that Lady Day’s star shines as brightly as ever. José James has described how Holiday's voice, ‘magnificent, warm, intimate and absolutely unique,’ could be heard in his childhood home. Interestingly, these are all adjectives that can be applied to his own versatile baritone voice, distinguished by its rich, expressive quality. James rediscovered the voice of Lady Day during his teenage years, when he was also listening to Nirvana, De La Soul and A Tribe Called Quest. So it’s no surprise that he mixes contemporary beats with the musical legacy of an artist who, as he says, opened the doors of jazz to him and showed him the path he should follow. After a career in which he has fused sounds ranging from neo-soul, jazz, hip hop and funk to experimental rock, James  performs here, in his inimitable style, nine songs that were written or popularised by Billie Holiday.

Kyle Eastwood
© Sylvain Gripoix

8. Music: Kyle Eastwood

Mystic River, Million Dollar Baby, Gran Torino – just a few of the films this musician, composer and actor has provided music for, although his work is not limited to soundtracks. The son of Clint Eastwood, Kyle grew up listening to jazz greats like Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Miles Davis, and it’s no surprise that this music resonates in all his compositions. In his latest album, Time Pieces, he pays tribute to jazz from the late '50s and early '60s.
La mesura del desordre
© Benjamin Sommabere

9. Dance: La mesura del desordre ('The measure of disorder')


Concept and creation: Thomas Hauert, Cecilia Colacrai, Mireia de Querol, Natalia Jiménez, Iris Heitzinger, Xavi Moreno, Federica Porello, Anna Rubirola. Direction: Thomas Hauert, Group La Bolsa. Dancers: Cecilia Colacrai, Mireia de Querol, Natalia Jiménez, Iris Heitzinger, Xavi Moreno, Federica Porello, Anna Rubirola.

The choreographic language of Thomas Hauert (who presented From B to B with Àngels Margarit at Grec 2011) can be seen as an extension of the abstract dance tradition. His highly polyphonic writing comes to life on stage in the fullest sense through improvisation. Group La Bolsa was founded around a shared interest in movement based on musical scores. These establish concrete, fully developed frameworks whilst also allowing space for performers to use their creative intuition in encounters with audiences. La mesura del desordre is a piece centred on a complex organism that is constantly reorganised and reinvented, drawing on individual initiatives and different degrees of mutual influence.

À louer
© Herman Sorgeloos

10. Dance: À louer ('For rent')


Concept and direction: Gabriela Carrizo, Franck Chartier. With: Jos Baker, Leo De Beul, Eurudike De Beul, Marie Gyselbrecht, Hun-Mok Jung, SeolJin Kim and Simon Versnel.

Theatre-goers who saw 32 rue Vandenbranden at Grec 2012 or Vader (Father) at Grec 2014 will be looking forward to submerging themselves once again in the parallel universe of memories, visions and nightmares that Peeping Tom so brilliantly evokes. The company returns to Barcelona with a major production that is having its Spanish premiere. The story follows a bourgeois family in decline, its eccentric members groping their way through a kind of labyrinth that symbolises a tangled maze of thoughts from which they cannot escape. A metaphor for life and the theatre, and for a stage that belongs to the artists only fleetingly, a provisional space that is always ‘for rent’ (À louer), and which actors and dancers are constantly compelled to reinvent and transform. The space itself, defined by a clever trompe-l’oeil effect, is once more the driving force behind a work that takes the ephemeral nature of art and, by extension, life, as its central theme.

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