I was treated to a tremendous cultural experience at Teatro Campoamor during the start of Festival de Teatro Lirico in the beautiful Spanish city Oviedo. However with the only other person in the theatre bellow the age of twenty three, playing the role of ‘young boy’ on stage, it was evident the disconnect of cultural theatre and youth, that I had been previously warned about is still present and continues to go unrecognised by the organisers to the concern of some of the locals.
Jaime Garzón Noriega, the Organiser of events in the local Cultural Foundation of Oviedo, who is in charge of bringing plays to this theatre to please all of Oviedo had informed me that there had been a significant push and more open welcoming approach to the youth and a hopeful increased presence…“the attendance at the theatre of youth will be noticeable”
The youth presence was noticeable during the spectacular performance of Dona Francisquita, but regrettably it was noticeable due to the sheer lack of it. This supposedly wasn’t unusual. Leticia Remis, a teacher who leads the English department in one of the largest primary schools here in Oviedo, didn’t seem surprised at the lack of a diverse audience, but her concern was clear after she too was told more youth had been invited.
“…seeing such a nostalgic tone of an old age displayed on stage in this lively art form was tremendous, from the delicate voice of Dona Francisquita to the loud fandango dance in the final moments, it was much needed here in Oviedo, my only criticism is the promotion…with continued English and American traditions influencing Spain through social media, television etc. these opportunities are crucial in displaying show off our culture, they are vital for its preservation, it is a concern that there was a noticeable lack of younger persons present especially after the opposite was inferred before hand”.
Teatro Campoamor hidden away in the centre of the picturesque city of Oviedo is grand yet modest, with its neoclassic exterior it’s nothing too dissimilar to that on the West End and is rich in cultural history, a showpiece for any city. It was perplexing to think if organisers had presented the opportunity that there indeed wouldn’t be more of a varied group.
Sonia de Munck triumphantly led the performance with Francisco Lopez artfully directed the performance, with a production holding true to the traditional direction, which fit perfectly with the vibrant score and comical story of multiple love triangles. This was a tremendous poster for Spanish culture here in the north.
It was a tremendous coup for Teatro Campoamor and the city to get this performance and in turn the local news praised the performance. La Nueva Espana led with the headline “Dona Francisquita seduces the Teatro Campoamor…the acceptance of the work was spectacular” yet they too didn’t comment on the audiences clear lack of youth presence.
The promotion to reach out to a wide audience remains a concern. There had been an attempt to …“approach schools, high schools and musical schools to attract them to this traditional genre” Noriega commented, but evidently this had unfortunately fallen short.
“Our hard work and efforts were rewarded by the standing ovation that the audience gave us at the end of the play. This is the most gratifying thing for all professionals who carry out the daily work for everything to be perfect during the performances” Noriega
Opportunities like this one are already adored by the older generation, who have grown up with these performances, and the standing ovation was deserved but these performances need to be appreciated by new eyes. With this special event it was a chance to put to rest long standing criticism towards this now standard disconnect between the theatre and the youth of the city, but was sadly missed.