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The passion of the puppet

The passion of the puppet

A lot has happened since the Nao d’amores company, led by Ana Zamora, debuted the car of passion for the first time. Mystery of Christ of the Gascons, one of the greatest rarities within a theatrical career full of atypical and risky projects. That happened in 2007, in the church of San Justo, the Segovian temple that guards the Romanesque carving of the Christ of the Gascones that gives its title to the function. Curiously, it is that articulated carving from the 11th century or, rather, a life-size replica of the sculpture, also endowed with movement, the true protagonist of this show that has continued to be performed inside and outside our borders throughout these 17 years and that now the National Classical Theater Company has included in its programming.

Taking dramatic-religious texts from various authors of the 15th century (Gómez Manrique, Alonso del Campo, Diego de San Pedro and Fray Íñigo de Mendoza), the work tells the life of Jesus Christ from his birth to his death and subsequent resurrection. But the most interesting thing about the proposal is how that life is told, since the entire show is conceived as a spiritual ceremony, where, more than the dramatization as we understand it today, the symbols, the poetry – both verbal and visual – and the music – collected and selected, as was usual in the works of Nao d’amores, by the late Alicia Lázaro–; everything is aimed at awakening emotions in a primary, sensory way. And Zamora achieves his objective, regardless of the faith that the spectators have or do not have, due to his treatment of Jesus Christ as a character. Converted into a puppet, and so skillfully manipulated in ordinary scenes and situations that they may even seem naive to us, the protagonist – supported by a cast of seven actors – is revealed to the audience as the most plausible incarnation of innocence and purity that can be imagined. This is also what the director herself understands: «We must keep in mind that the character is a replica of the Romanesque carving, and that Romanesque Christ is characterized by his pinion mouth and his astonished face. You can’t work with him as if he were a bloody baroque Christ. Instead of creating a heroic or savior Christ, we choose to create a Christ who accepts what he is given, as we all have to accept in the end. “I think that helps the audience empathize with him, which is precisely what the show is looking for.” However, as always happens in Nao d’amores productions, each decision is also based on the historical-artistic context itself: «I did a lot of research on what these ceremonies or paraliturgical acts could be like. and about how these articulated Christs were used in them –explains Zamora–. The result is a free approach that reinterprets those ceremonies by reformulating universal questions, for which, after so many centuries of staging, we have no answers. Regarding the combination of the paraliturgical with the world of puppetry, the director has no doubt that this fusion was already present in the Middle Ages. «Faced with a theater not regulated by rigid realist paradigms, nor concerned with anachronisms, we chose puppet theater as a resource that accumulates all possible implausibilities. And the fact is that the Christ of the Gascones himself is actually a life-size puppet that for centuries has remained recumbent, separated from the purpose for which it was created.

Conceived by and for Holy Week, the Mystery of Christ of the Gascons It marked a before and after in Ana Zamora’s professional career. «I had been working at La Abadía and at the National Company –recalls the director–; At that time I left everything to find my own path. That coincided with the fact that death, due to a simple matter of age, began to be present around me. A person who died around that time was my grandfather (he was the famous philologist Alonso Zamora Vicente), who had been very close in all my artistic processes and had become my on-call advisor in working with the texts. I needed to find a way to reflect on death, and I wondered how a person in the 21st century, an atheist like me, could find comfort in the face of it. Reviewing the figure of Jesus Christ as an agrarian myth that since the Neolithic tells us that life and death are parts of the same circular process, and that death is a generator of life, I found the background I needed to address that great existential question that “Sooner or later, it will affect us all equally, believers and non-believers.”