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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: "Le plateau est un champ de combat"

by Marie-José Sirach

Angelica Liddell Or The Stage As Battlefield

Translated Tuesday 20 July 2010, by Isabelle Métral and reviewed by Bill Scoble

A few hours before her second show, l’Humanité’s correspondent at the Avignon Festival met with the Spanish author, stage director and actress Angelica Liddell, who makes her début in Avignon this year with two new works: La Casa de la fuerza and El Año de Ricardo. The interview, published by l’Humanité, was a translation from the Spanish by Marie-José Sirach.

Enough to say that Angelica Liddell is this year’s shock-discovery. She took up residence here without warning, and the consensus is that this festival makes sense only because it makes such signal discoveries possible.

L’HUMA: I’d very much like to know how you set about creating those pieces.

LIDDELL: I let all the outside world in. The stage does not break off the social pact: you just tell the truth out loud. From this space of absolute freedom comes the monster that is capable of telling what is going on around you. This is where the barrier of decency blows up. Decency is an obstacle to this kind of work. What I do is some kind of pornography, the pornography of the soul; for I tell what cannot be uttered or confessed to. Strength is one of life’s main driving forces, like fury, anger, indignation, suffering. These give me the energy that sets me working. And I am in my element wherever a conflict, a struggle, a fight is on. The stage is a battlefield.

L’HUMA: You’ve been working in the underground so far…

LIDDELL: I am part of the underground because I work on the fringes of society and the stage-world. For more than twelve years I worked in critical conditions but with great conviction. Things have been changing these last five years. But marginality has more to do with one’s outlook on the world than with one’s economic circumstances. Theatre’s place is on the world’s periphery, which asserts its conflicting otherness as it struggles for existence. Audiences are consequently divided: some spectators will boo, others will not. And I have to put up with that: contempt on the one hand, and strong complicity on the other.

L’HUMA: Feminism in la Casa de la fuerza is a fight…

LIDDELL : We have had enough of being victims; what we need is anger, to raise Cain, and the idea is to piece together all the various daily humiliations inflicted on women (even in love), which result in solitude and culminate in the revoltingly macho society of Ciudad Juarez. The impunity of those murders, the silence around them, the systematic elimination of the women might be called a “feminicide”, the fruit of an established macho culture. These things take place in Mexico but we too, in our western societies, must remain on the alert. Official statistics in Spain say a hundred women are beaten to death by their partners. We just cannot sit still in the face of this situation, this disease of our societies.

L’HUMA: Tell us about El Año de Ricardo.

LIDDELL: It’s a political text in the sense that Brecht defined it when he said that evil is concrete. Richard III here embodies absolute evil. I wrote this text at the very beginning of the occupation of Iraq, which enforced democracy upon the country.

I felt deeply upset by that corruption of the spirit that takes cover behind the mechanism of democracy. I still feel indignant that Bush, Blair, and Aznar were never called to account after this, that they were never summoned before an international court. How ever could such a cruel and destructive war be embarked on in the name of democracy? Richard III is the best pattern ever for all those democratic presidents that have slipped into totalitarianism. Even as concerns the relation between the body, the corporeal being, and power itself. How far is the physical frustration [1] compensated for by the exercise of force and power?

L’HUMA: Any projects?

LIDDELL: Creation with me is always a long and slow process. I am now engaged in a new adventure. It’s all very unclear as yet, but I am moving toward the “project of a moral literacy course” which will take me back to school. I have been taking French classes for a few months and the alphabet symbolizes human beings’ loss of confidence. Right now I have not gone beyond the stage of drawing and writing.

[1Richard III, who reigned from 1483 till 1485 (see Richard III, Shakespeare’s first tragedy), was a hunchback

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