|Teatro Malandro’s History|
Le Garage, a squat in Geneva
After six years practicing street theatre in Paris, in 1990 Colombian Omar Porras settles in a squat in Geneva, called Le Garage, where he starts Teatro Malandro, a place for theatrical research where the first shows are created. In 1991 King Ubu by Alfred Jarry sets the tone of a work characterised by a baroque universe, the mixture of cultures, masked actors, the body's conscience and the presence of music, conceived organically as a whole. The company would soon become renowned and would be scheduled at different places, notably at the Festival des Arts in Nyon, but also at the Festival de la Cité in Lausanne: it begins to emerge from different cultural and artistic local backgrounds.
In this illegitimate place, with material recovered from the streets, Teatro Malandro transforms its precariousness into a profusion of imagination thanks to an explosive ingenuity, and thanks to the poetry of necessity to which Omar Porras has been accustomed since his childhood in his neighbourhood in Bogota.
One year after King Ubu, in 1992, Omar Porras and his partners create The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus by Christopher Marlowe, marking the start of an exploration of the great myths. After reviving King Ubu (1993), the director takes on a Swiss author in that same year – Friedrich Dürrenmant- and an undertaking of universal dimension: The Visit of the Old Lady. This show marks a very important period in the history of Teatro Malandro, which is recognised by the Roman Prize of Independent Shows (1994). The Colombian director settled in Geneva, creates this play iconoclastically to prove its performing force as well as to manifest the radicalism of the Swiss-German author. It is at that moment that the great international stage recognises this company –still in its humble squat origins- launching a Swiss and international road tour through France, Germany and Latin America.
From the Comédie de Genève to Sécheron
Following this great success, Claude Stratz, the director of the Comédie de Genève -main theatre institution in Geneva- offers his stage to Teatro Malandro for the creation of Othello by William Shakespeare (1995). In 1996, a new period begins: the company fits out the old ateliers of Sécheron and transforms them into an authentic space for creation and theatrical research. It is a great space composed by a dojo, a space for the construction of sets and administration offices. It is a space of conviviality that enables the interaction of the different dimensions of the process (artistic, technical and administrative). The first play right after this new settlement would be Strip-Tease by Slawomir Mrozek in 1997. A few months later, Teatro Malandro reaches a new stage: created at the Comédie de Genève, Blood Wedding by Federico Garcia Lorca is performed in Canada and in Japan and criss-crosses France, mainly at national stages and dramatic centres. The power of the text, combined with the interpretation of Omar Porras, results in a show of extremely powerful energy. After three years on tour, the ancient theatre imposes its own artistic necessities and leads the troupe to create Bakkhantes (by Euripides) for a national tour in 2000. The director then would turn towards another mythical figure, haunted by an idealism bordering mysticism. Don Quixote would become Ay! Quijote in the universe of Porras: moments of grace for the company (2001) and for the public, this transposition from the novel to the play highlights Omar Porras’ mastery of language, getting rid of the tyranny of the verb in order to reach other human dimensions. On its international tour the show, adapted from Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s novel, would open Colombia's gates to the prodigal son: This is the first participation of Teatro Malandro in the Iberoamerican Festival of theatre of Bogota, directed at that time by Fanny Mikey.
Théâtre Forum Meyrin
As from its beginnings, the history of Teatro Malandro has been patterned by its settlements: in 2003, by the end of the tour Ay! Quijote at the Barbican Centre of London, the company is forced to leave its location in Sécheron and sets up its new residence at the Théâtre Forum Meyrin, invited by its director Jean-Pierre Aebersold. Even though the space for administrative issues is set there, Teatro Malandro is still in search of a space to bring together all aspects of a company’s routine, including the pedagogical dimension, which is an integral part of the Porras method. From then onwards, show creations are hosted by different theatres. In 2003, Omar Porras and his team are invited by the Théâtre Am Stram Gram (Geneva) to create The Soldier’s Tale by Igor Stravinsky and Charles-Ferdinand Ramuz. It is the first time collaborating with an orchestra (l'Ensemble Contrechamps) and for the troupe, this production would open up the gates of the opera. The show, a small gem of creativity, created in Geneva would then be revived in the Théâtre des Abbesses in Paris. In 2004, Omar Porras decides to revive –ten years later- The Visit of the Old Lady: the title role, performed in the first version by the director, suits him naturally. A timeless fable, this show based upon the play of Dürrenmatt, goes on an international tour, reaching even the most distant regions such as the 'drama centre’ of the Indian Ocean (Reunion Island). Back to the mythic figures in 2005, the troupe starts an exploration of the master-servant relationship with El Don Juan (byTirso de Molina); childish and capricious, but no less cruel, it would fascinate by its pictorial opulence, always intense, mostly looked after by Fredy Porras (stage designer and brother of the director); this play would take the company from Geneva back to the Colombian stage, after having scoured the francophone world in Europe; it is actually the first inroad in Belgium (Namur and Brussels). The script, a huge anthology, nourished by versions of Tirso de Molina, by Molière, and also by the Comedia dell’arte and English cuttings, is an authentic written creation conceived jointly by Omar Porras and playwright Marco Sabbatini. As always, the director feels the need to readapt the script, to apply it deeply, to shake it up in order to obtain a sort of quintessence of the senses, both rational and intuitive. Then in 2007, the first confrontation with the textual and ideological universe of Bertolt Brecht: in Mister Puntila and his Man Matti, Omar Porras explores once more the master-servant relationship, and also the duplicity of the human being, shades and light coexist in the same character of Puntila. This long tour is marked by the first performances in Spain (Theatre Festival of Malaga – Teatro Cervantes) and also by the return of Teatro Malandro to Japan, for the Shizuoka Spring Festival, once more directed by Satoshi Miyagi, who has proposed Omar Porras a recreation of El Don Juan with Japanese actors for 2009.
By means of its shows, authentic musical boxes, Teatro Malandro has opened to Omar Porras the doors of the greatest opera houses in Europe, like the Royal Theatre of the Mint in Brussels, the Théâtre du Capitole in Toulouse, the National Opera of Lorraine, the Grand Théâtre of Geneva and the Opera of Lausanne; in the same impulse, in 2006 the Comédie-Française encouraged Omar Porras in the direction of a show that enabled the prestigious institution to include in its repertoire the play Pedro and the Commander by Félix Lope de Vega.
The creation of 2009, The Schemings of Scapin by Molière, revisits the master-servant relationship. This is also the first show resulting from collaboration between the Théâtre de Carouge and the Théâtre Forum Meyrin; both institutions from Geneva produce and host this play. Even before the first performance, a national and international tour is already confirmed in Japan, France and Latin America.
The production for 2010, a show around the historical figure of Simon Bolivar, celebrates the bicentenary of the starting up of the independence war of the New World. William Ospina, Colombian philosopher and novel writer, is the author of this play. A tour through Europe and Latin America is intended for the season 2010-2011.
Today, Teatro Malandro is the first theatre company in the French-speaking Switzerland that is supported by the City and State of Geneva, Pro Helvetia and a village from Geneva (Meyrin).