A interview to Sergi López and Jorge Picó

A interview to Sergi López and Jorge Picó

Interview by Paula Miralles
Translated by Carolina Morro.

You two met while studying in Lecoq’s school and the work that you developed there is clearly visible. What is left from the teacher in your actual work? What do you think he would say about your plays?

Jorge: Lecoq is still very present, so much that he even is at the rehearsals when we work. We sometimes wonder what he would think about what we’re doing. He’s our master of suspicion. When we suspect something is lacking or unnecessary we go back to him. He, together with what we learned in Paris act like a filter.

Sergi:  It’s true that we think about him and what we learned.  He’s above all a presence that inspires us and pushed us to deepen in his idea of theater as something  to discover, to invent. He talked a lot about finding your own theater, your own writing. And that’s what we’re trying to do. We like to think that if he saw what we’re doing he would encourage us to go further.

Can we talk about an evolution from Non Solum to 30/40 Livingstone? In which way? In what path are you headed?..Will we be able to hear Jorge speak in your next production?

Jorge: Both plays are absurd and absurdity helps us denounce and also encourage rebellion, and rebellion is one of the human mechanisms that helps us recognize that we are not alone. Yes, I think 30/40 Livingstone goes further than Non Solum because inside this absurdity there’s a story that tries to make sense. Now we’re looking for texts by other authors to  distance us from ourselves, but I’m not sure if we’ll be able to. I don’t know if I’ll talk in the next one. Sergi is the boss, I’ll ask him and see what he lets me do.

Sergi: To have a man with horns under my orders is one of the realities that confirm that this new show is an attempt to go further than the last one. The man lost in his own solitud that we depicted in Non Solum has found a companion and this makes him see the world from another perspective although we still find him to be quite alone. Actually, not everything is a pre-meditated calculation, creation has brought us to where we are and we’re also trying to find a reasonable explanation. We wouldn’t want to make them to think that it’s just a game and not something serious.

After these two scenic experiences; have you developed your own methodology? With what materials and stimulations do you work in the process of creation?
Jorge: We are the materials and our method consists in confronting reality and then doing something about it. Well, only the part that really grinds our gears. That’s why we read the newspaper just before rehearsing. Sergi’s specialty is people. Mine is reading. In the end we try to embody that reality on stage. Our method consists in making plays that are difficult explain but easy to watch.

Sergi: The method came by itself. I like Jorge’s point of view. He has the gift of opening doors. And I think he’s fond of my point of view too. That’s what makes us move forward. I would say that’s the only way we know how to work. We can’t avoid that what happens on the streets interests us or that what goes on in the parlament makes us angry or that because of the fact that while  a small amount of powerful people are laughing their heads of the vast majority of them  are suffering doesn’t give us particular ideas of the manufacturing  of home-made explosives, even if it’s only on top of the stage.
And afterwards, when we sit down and write, absurdity brings us together  in a natural way, without even thinking about it.  When something makes both of us laugh we take it as a good sign.

In your shows  there is a strong physical component but also a very intentional and convincing script. How does this connexion happen between both of them? What goes first?

Jorge: The situation comes first. Then it needs a body, a dramatic state. The words come later, and we even write them down! Sergi knows how to write well with his ears, he has an oral culture, and I have a more literary one. He’s more intuitive and I was brought up in a private religious school. Nature and intuition versus culture and study creates interesting tensions. It’s funny.

Sergi:It may sound stupid to say that before the word comes the silence, but it’s truth is
disarming. Even so, we tend to treat them both like a whole. We like to think that word and movement are the same. To write movements or to move words, everything is possible when working with improvisation on stage. More than writing about and intelectual idea, the stage gives and refutes reasons. It even hides unthinkable things!

The austerity of your productions calls our attention. The absence of almost all the elements on stage. Could you talk a bit about your style?

Jorge: Austerity means Lecoq: The actor can suggest and create illusions with the essencials. And what is essencial? That what is valuable. As you can see I’m very Marxist. And because we pay our own productions, we can’t afford huge settings. Every element is discussed over and over again.

Sergi: Both of us are fascinated by the power of suggestion in theater and how an empty space on stage can be anywhere. The idea of using very little elements helps us wander through more poetical paths, surreal ones , so we can talk about things without having to put them under the spotlight. It seams like that gives meaning to the pure idea of doing theater.

Most of the time,  lighting  acts like another character. What importance do you give  the rest of technical elements? Do you work with the same team of collaborators or do they keep changing?

Jorge: Lionel Spycher has done all our lighting and has worked with me in five productions. Because he also writes he gives lighting a story of what happens in every space. The same happens with Oscar Roig, he reads the play from the point of view of the music. He helped us find an ending to 30/40 Livingstone talking about the tempo, the musical colour, the feeling it should have. Pascual Peris also came by, with whom I previously had a great experience in The Love of the Nightingale. He believes that in costume design everything is intuitive. We normally work with the same technical crew.

Sergi: We try to work with no complexes. The creative work in a show lets you share ideas with other collaborators without any complexes either who give us artistic points of view that makes ours grow, and the same thing happens the other way round. What we look for is for everyone to inspire everyone. The show ends up having a curious collection of fathers, mothers, uncles and even some long lost cousins.

In your last piece you present, with a lot of humor the daily moments and intimate reflections of the character. How does this relate to your biography?

Jorge: It relates a lot. Humor is what we have in common, it’s our way of expressing our discontent with what’s going on. If we didn’t have the humor, we’d just be two grumpy Fourty year olds. And I get the best part…Sergi makes me laugh! I think that in our pieces there’s more of Sergi’s biography than there is mine, which is normal if you think about  it, his life is much more interesting. My biography is my imagination.

Sergi: Another thing that overcomes us. Without meaning to talk about our lives specifically we end up portraying it. Even though we recognize ourselves in what we write we always have something unexpected and most definitely revealing. Our pieces are biographical in a literal sense. We end up speaking, moving or writing with everything we carry with us and everything that makes us think the way we do.

With the actual outlook of cutbacks and restructuration it looks like the time of  “granted culture” comes to an end. How does this affect you?
Jorge: We don’t ask for grants, what we do ask is to get paid and some Town Halls don’t. We know that we’ll never get paid for some of our gigs. What really affects us is that the ones who do get grants and subsidies are private bancs. It’s just plain robbery.

Sergi: It affects us more as living people, users of public  services in general, than it does as members of a union. The subsidies or grants that are given to culture are understood more often as an expense than an investment. To who you stop giving money and to who you start to is a technical issue. It expresses a type of vision of the world ,an idea of where things are headed. Inside this visibly sick system, to cut back in healthcare, education and culture, that is to say in everything that could cure our body and soul would seem a stupid thing to do, if it wasn’t intended. Someone is not interested in us rebelling and that’s precisely why we have the obligation to do so.

Keeping on the same subject, it seems that the actual government intends to reform the law that is in charge of sponsorship and patronage in order to shift from a culture based on grants to a culture based on private support. How do you feel about that? What do you think culture brings to the actual society?
Jorge: My opinion is that the PP government should leave, they’re doing exactly the opposite of what they said in their campaign. And CIU in Catalunya should too, they’re also cutting back in culture,healthcare and education and on the other hand haven’t been taxing big capital. Do you think that companies will sponsor culture if it doesn’t create benefit? Look at the smaller saving banks, they don’t exist any more. We’re talking about sponsorship at the same time that we’re destroying  the saving banks and all their social work. A patron is someone with no obligation to culture. Otherwise I’m open to study other fair formulas that work in other countries. Theater gives society the sense of community, the audience acts like an assembly. And also gives a a full meaning of being: Who am I, where do I come from, where am I  going, How should I act in order to do the right thing? In a time  when people are getting crushed  by modern capitalism, that’s what they need:The sense of narration, with all it’s values. “Theater screams: Fuck you Nihilists, life makes sense, even if the sense is having to look for it”.

Sergi: Sure it’s an interesting idea to help, encourage stimulate private money in order  to invest in culture but we can’t let culture entirely depend on it. Although it’s evident that it can also be a business the biggest difference is the added value that it has to thought. As intangible as it is necessary for life.  When a private entity concludes that it can’t afford sponsoring culture anymore and stops investing we won’t be able to say no. Theater, culture, education, everything that makes us grow, learn, everything that helps us understand this huge mystery that is live as human beings shouldn’t have to depend on the capriciousness of a private entity. It should actually have to be protected by law. What is there more precious to the human condition than it’s soul?  What is there more sacred than our thoughts?

Quickly name a book,a play and a song that you like.
Book: Albert Camus, elements of a life by Robert Zaretsky. A marvellous book on Camus, who I admire.
Music: Los de atrás vienen conmigo (The ones behind come with me) by Calle 13, the lyrics are very good, they go after everyone.
Play: My name is Rachel Corrie played by Marta Marco made me cry.

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