COSA. Intervenir un cuerpo (THING. Intervene a body) is the piece that closes my trilogy on ILLUSIONISM, a research that has led me to think about how illusion connects with the essence of theater, exposing on the stage convention and magic, reality and its double, action and fiction. This research, which began in 2017, involves the pieces !AY! YAY! (2018), a research on perceptual images thought from the body and “The Watching Machine” (2020), a research on perceptual images thought from light, shadow and reflection.
On this occasion, in COSA, we investigate the perceptual images from the scenographic. To do this, we have thought of the body as another material, reifying it to the point of turning it into a prop.
COSA is a dance piece composed by an objective dance body.
The choreography of things.
Original idea: Macarena Recuerda.
Creation: Macarena Recuerda, Jorge Dutor and Maia Villot.
Performers: Macarena Recuerda and Maia Villot.
Choreographic assistant: Jorge Dutor.
Costum Design: Jorge Dutor.
Lighting: George Marinov.
An Antic Teatre production (Barcelona).
With the collaboration of: Basque Government, Azkuna Zentroa (Bilbao), Conde Duque (Madrid), La Caldera (Barcelona), Réplika teatro (Madrid), Harrobia (Bilbao), Zornotza Aretoa (Bizkaia) and D8 Sorkuntza Faktoria (Bilbao).
Macarena Recuerda Shepherd presenta ‘COSA. Intervenir un cuerpo’ at l’Antic Teatre
Oriol Puig Taulé. Núvul, digital cultura.
Critic and chronicler of Performing Arts. Head of L’Apuntador.
We all move, within our possibilities. And all things move, even at such a minimun speeds that they are practically imperceptible. The creator Macarena Recuerda Sheperd has premiered the show COSA. Intervenir un cos a l’Antic Teatre. Illusionism, ballet and cardboard dance in a simple and delicious piece. And we all know that the simple things are the most difficult to do.
Macarena Recuerda Shepherd in a reharsal image of the piece ‘COSA. Intervenir un cuerpo’.
The scenery is a box full of surprises. A scenic box is continent and content at the same time, and generates illusion from the moment the lights are turned on. Macarena Recuerda Shepherd, artistic name of the creator Lidia Zoilo, has completed her trilogy on stage illusionism with the show COSA. Intervenir un cuerpo. The original title is in Castellan, but this wordless piece works much better in its Catalan version: it is not the same to go from “cosa” to “cos” (from thing to body in Catalan) than from “cosa” to “cuerpo” (from thing to body in Catellan) Language stuff. The first part of Macarena Recuerda’s trilogy was ¡AY! YA!, a chamber piece for two performers and red tracksuits, in which, accompanied by Sofía Asencio, she created impossible beings from the multiple combinations of two bodies. The second one was The Watching Machine, where the stage became a thing halfway between a space ship and a watching machine, and where the eyes and the light were used to reflect and create new worlds. Now, this COSA closes the trilogy and becomes a song to cardboard and wrapping paper, a precarious ballet of things.
Creating emotions in the spectator by means of objects is much more difficult than doing it with words and dramatic gestures. Isn’t it? The scenic illusion well executed shows us that it can be much more exciting to see a curtain that goes down than an overacted monologue. A cloth that dances than a forced tear. The talent and the scenic wisdom of Macarena Recuerda Shepherd makes us get excited with a proposal made of cardboard. The first chords of the Prelude to the migration of a faun by Claude Debussy immediately place us in the realm of artifice. Is there anything more artificial than ballet? But we are not at the Liceu, but at the Antic Teatre, and in front of us will not appear Vaslav Nijinski in a leotard that leaves no room for imagination, but two, almost invisible, performers. Lidia Zoilo and Maia Villot are there, but they are not there at the same time, sheathed in the monochromatic costumes designed by Jorge Dutor that confuses them with the landscape. The emotion of a hand that appears, of fingers that unfolds, of a pair of fingers that sputter, of little heads that we don’t know if they are moles or spies.
The piece is calm and monochromatic like a desert, the color of sand. But, like the Sahara, it can also hold many wonders. Architectural formations reminiscent of a ziggurat, mythological beings made of tubes, monster-puppets or puppet-monsters. It depends on how you look at it. Macarena Recuerda follows in the wake of La Claca a Mori el Merma and Joan Brossa’s post-theatre. And all this, with a very thin layer of humor, which runs through the show like a subterranean current. The vulcanian greeting of Star Trek or a nimble ninja’s tombstone are in perfect harmony with kinetic art and rhythmic gymnastics. The cardboard boxes that come to life in the spectacles of Miet Warlop or Diana Gadish are here magical beings, beyond good and evil, to whom our figurative desire tries to put a face. In the end, a baroque theater (and its special effects) can also be reproduced with the poorest materials. Like Cris Blanco, Macarena Recuerda trusts in the power of the stage and of convention. Because, above all, she loves and respects this generator of illusions and absurdities that is theater.
Macarena Recuerda Shepherd’s new show COSA has been presented these last two weeks at the Antic Teatre in Barcelona. It is the work that closes the trilogy on Illusionism, an investigation that the author has been carrying out for some years now.
As she herself explains in the hand program, ‘it is a research that has led me to think about how illusion connects with the essence of theater, exposing on the stage convention and magic, reality and its double, action and fiction’. This research began in 2017 and has resulted in the titles: ¡Ay! Ya! (2018), about perceptual images thought from the body, and The Watching Machine (2020), about images thought from light, shadow and reflection. In the third one he has now released, COSA. Intervenir un cuerpo, ‘investigates the perceptual images from the scenographic. To do this, we have thought of the body as another material, reifying it to the point of turning it into a prop’. And the author ends by saying: ‘COSA is a dance piece composed by an objective dance body’.
As can be seen from reading these words, we are dealing with an artist who likes to experiment. But of all her words, I would focus on one of them, which she repeats at least twice, the word ‘perceptive’, and which gives us a clue as to where her research is going. In my opinion, he focuses especially on something as simple, elementary and complex as the perceptual fact itself: perception. In other words, after seeing the three works of the trilogy, and even at the risk of being wrong, I would say that what is important in all of them, apart from the contents themselves, is, above all, the attention paid to the ‘perceptual fact’. Something that is actually associated with the contents, of course, as these serve to create these ambiguous, almost trompe l’oeil-like situations, designed to the millimetre to confuse perception and force the spectator to focus on something that is rarely the object of attention: looking, the very act of perceiving.
Hence the strangeness that his actions provoke and that force you to look and look again, until you understand that there is a game of illusion and that what is satisfying is to realise how we are perceiving. “Perceiving the perceiving”, such would be the indirect, subtle, ultimate goal, which apparently does not justify a show, but which instead fills it with a strange, powerful intensity, which has to do with time, of course. For this attention to perceiving is stretched in time and ends up becoming just that, in a ‘perceiving time’ that plays at becoming double, at becoming space, thanks to its trompe l’oeil, as if the secret essence of time were this: to be in a constant ambiguity, in ‘being and not being’ at the same time what you see or appear to see or be. But without taking sides, indicating that one image is worth as much as the other, one truth as its opposite. What is important is the game and the in-between, the space that opens up in this awareness of being double, of being two things at the same time.
In COSA, Lidia Zoilo (pseudonym of Macarena Recuerda Shepherd, and vice versa) has stopped to play with a material, cardboard, which shows a curious ambiguity: on the one hand, it is a common and anodyne material that has no mystery in itself. On the other hand, the way it is treated by the two actresses who hide in it makes it something strange. To create strangeness in something that has none would be the ambiguity with which this play plays with. Also in other words: anything, depending on how you look at it, move it or inhabit it, ceases to be what it is and becomes something else unknown.
The genius of the proposal is that, after proposing this ambiguity to the spectator, Macarena Recuerda ends up turning it into the links of a construction that fills and transforms the space, creating a mysterious framework based on a material that has long since ceased to be what it is – without ever ceasing to be purely and simply cardboard. Building in space with the bricks of a material that for an hour has stored time of ambiguous perception, that is to say, attentive to itself, what more could we ask of an artist of the stage?
Macarena Recuerda’s very personal style is truly unique, and it is not surprising that it arouses the interest, if not the fury, of new generations of spectators who are looking for something new, far from the usual macho contents – psychologies, ideologies, catastrophes, psychopathies, anchorages to the past, etc. – and prefer to enter into the adventure of a new perception, open to the unexpected and the unknown.
Premiere on May 4 at Azkuna Zentroa, Bilbao (Spain)
From May 25-28 and from June 1-4 at Antic Teatre, Barcelona (Spain)
May 21, La Mutant, Valencia (Spain)
October 21, El Lizeo Gernika (Spain)
November 2. Teatre L’Escorxador de Lleida (Spain)
November 18-19. Festival de Otoño, Madrid (Spain)
December 29. Tabakalera, Donostia (Spain)