The Mérida International Classical Theatre Festival is presenting the fourth edition of the Festival of Mérida in Madrid. On this occasion, the pieces chosen to participate in this extension of Mérida’s festival in the capital city were performed at the 64th and 63rd editions held in 2018 and 2017, respectively.
For Jesus Cimarro, director of the Festival of Merida, “It is essential to maintain this extension in Madrid as it allows us to emphasize and perform some of the most interesting Greco-Latin or Greco-Roman productions performed in Mérida for the audiences who are not able to travel to Extremadura”.
At this edition, the La Latina and Bellas Artes theatres will be opening their doors to three tragedies (‘Nero’, ‘Hippolytus’ and ‘Viriathus’’), a comedy (‘The Crazy, Crazy Story of Ben-Hur’) and a musical (‘La belle Hélène’).
Teatro Bellas Artes
27th to 31st March 2019
By Eduardo Galán
Nero could be considered the artist emperor who loved culture and all the arts. But this does not mean he was not at the same time a cruel tyrant and despot, as was usual in his time, capable of murdering his mother Agrippina, her British stepbrother, his first wife Octavia and, in some way, his second wife Poppaea. He then married a slave whom he ordered be castrated and dress like the recently deceased empress. This was because of his wish to survive history’s judgement of him as an artist: he sang, played the lyre, composed verses, recited and performed plays. And he brought the Olympic Games back to participate in them. He was also responsible for the first major persecution of Christians, whom he blamed for the fire in Rome. This piece shows how throughout history people have always made the mistake of allowing the tyranny of bloodthirsty madmen due to the actions or omissions of those who are close to these tyrants.
Cast: Dani Muriel, Chiqui Fernández, José Manuel Seda, Diana Palazón, Francisco Vidal, Javier Lago, Daniel Migueláñez, Carlota García.
Direction: Alberto Castrillo-Ferrer.
3rd to 7th April 2019
La belle Hélène (Beautiful Helen)
By Jacques Offenbach
Eris, the goddess of “discord”, provokes a tournament to discover which of the three goddesses of Olympus is the most beautiful: Athena, Aphrodite or Hera. The judge is a shepherd named Paris. In order to win the title of the most beautiful, Aphrodite promises the shepherd to grant him the favours of the most beautiful woman in the world: Helen, Queen of Sparta. Conflict comes when Eris plays with everyone’s destiny in order to fulfil the goddess of love’s promise. Paris will have to fight beautiful Helen’s husband: Menelaus; but also the high priest Calchas and the kings of Greece Agamemnon, Achilles and the two Ajaxes… and yet the worst happens when he ends up absolutely in love with the unique and sensual Helen.
Version by Miguel Murillo and Ricard Reguant.
Cast: Gisela, Leandro Rivera, Silvia Martí, Tamia Deniz, Graciela Monterde, Patricia Arizmendi, Joan Carles Bestard, Javier Enguíx, Lorenzo Moncloa, Adrián Salzedo, Raquel Martín, Noelia Marló, Joan Codina, Pablo Romo, Guillermo Pareja, Marta Castell, Daniel Balas.
Direction: Ricard Reguant.
10th to 14th April 2019
Hippolytus is a contemporary classic, a reading of which is radically interesting in modern times. The confrontation between the love Phaedra feels for Hippolytus leads her to suicide, pushed by Hippolytus’s intolerance and what people might say. The defeat of a woman embarrassed for loving versus the intolerance of a man who’s known to say about women, “I wish you’d all die”, clearly expresses the battle between men and women where women are always fighting at a disadvantage. Common sense is brought in by the nursemaid, a woman who represents unconditional love and reflects the exact opposite of all the goddesses who are much less concerned about the happiness of their children than the dispute between them to prove who is more powerful. In this version, all the tragic burden falls on Phaedra. She can’t not love Hippolytus.
Version: Isidro Timón and Emilio del Valle.
Cast: Juan Díaz, Camila Almeda, José A. Lucia, Cristina Gallego, Mamen Godoy, Amelia David, Rubén Lanchazo, Javier Uriarte, Raquel Bravo, Sara Jiménez, Estefanía Ramírez, Guadalupe Fernández, Álvaro Rodríguez, Fernanda Valdés.
Direction: Emilio del Valle.
17th to 21st April 2019
By Florián Recio
Rome names Viriathus amicus populi romani as a reward for the mercy the Lusitanian leader demonstrated upon pardoning General Servilianus and his men from death. A period of peace begins for Viriathus and his people. But Caepio, the new consul, is not willing to consent to a barbarian bursting with pride at having forced Rome to sign a treaty. With the Senate’s connivance, he breaks this peace treaty. Viriathus becomes a symbol for Rome’s enemy tribes and Caepio tries to demonstrate that there is no symbol strong enough Rome can’t break, even if by treason…
Cast: Fernando Ramos, Ana García, Pedro Montero, Manuel Menárguez, David Gutiérrez, Jesús Manchón, Juan Carlos Tirado, Paca Velardiez, José F. Ramos.
Direction: Paco Carrillo.
Teatro La Latina
28th March to 26th May 2019
La loca, loca historia de Ben-Hur (The Crazy, Crazy Story of Ben-Hur)
By Lewis Wallace
Nancho Novo and Yllana join forces to create an insane, wild and really fun version of Ben-Hur, inspired by the mythical 1959 film. With a fast pace and visual ingenuity they’ve defined as TEATROMASCOPE (theatremascope), the staging allows them to bring such an epic story to today’s audiences without losing an iota of grandeur thanks to a constant play between cinematic and theatrical language.
Ben-Hur is full of ingenuous visual gags, sarcastic and absurd dialogues and an interesting reflection of the truth, love and the gender battle. Four actors and two actresses in a state of grace bring a number of characters to life to once again tell what nobody dared tell about Ben-Hur and, this time, uninhibited. Because, in this story, things aren’t what they seem. Better said, in this story, things are what they seem…
Version: Nancho Novo.
Cast: Victor Massán, Fael García, Agustín Jiménez, Richard Colins-Moore, Elena Lombao, María Lanau.
Artistic direction: David Ottone and Juan Ramos Toro.