George Rexstrew speaks to 'Cuentos Cruentos' producer Dustin Guerri, as well as professional actors Mariona Ginès and Joan Rigat, about their latest theatrical venture.
Tell us about your show and what it is that makes it unique.
Dustin: Written by Dino Lanti, Cuentos Cruentos is an original Spanish musical that offers a contemporary twist on a number of our favourite traditional tales. The Seven Dwarves are on unemployment benefits, an overweight Cinderella can’t pay for her glass slippers, the Three Little Pigs can’t find affordable housing and Alice gets lost in Wonderland after partying a little too hard. These classic childhood characters are thrust into the daily struggles and complexities of modern-day life. It is the marriage of these two things—traditional stories and contemporary social issues—that makes our show unique.
What can audience members expect to see?
Dustin: First of all, they’re going to see an unconventional musical, as Cuentos Cruentos is a show that truly turns the conventions of the genre on its head. The music, both composed and played live by V.O. Quartet, is also fantastic. The audience will come out feeling energised, thrilled and inspired by the sheer energy of the separate stories.
Is the show purely to entertain or does it carry a particular message?
Dustin: There’s totally a message. Through exploring these modern-day issues, we’re adding a contemporary spin to a set of very traditional stories. We don’t want the show to seem too preachy, however, so we have incorporated some funny stories to counterbalance the more serious ones. The issues explored include: being on the dole, the current precarious nature of work, the housing crisis and the economic crisis. There’s a part where Alice gets lost in her party underworld, though, which is one of the lighter and funnier tales. There’s a moral to every story, which is revealed through some audience interaction… nothing to be scared of, though!
What is it about Cuentos Cruentos that makes it appealing to both adults and children?
Dustin: Let me start by saying that there’s no hard and fast rule. The musical wasn’t originally designed for children, but at the same time it’s definitely not inappropriate for them. There’s no scary or sexy element to the production. Its meaning is easily accessible for children over the age of 10, and I think we are actually taking a fresh approach by raising awareness of social issues through theatre. I mean, where else would you see somebody referencing Spain’s housing crisis whilst singing in stripy black and white stockings?
Can you tell us some more about your theatre company, Teatro Calánime?
Mariona: Well, I co-founded Teatro Calánime in 2007 alongside our director Hugo Guzmán. We first met at the Instituto de Teatro in Barcelona, where I studied musical theatre and he studied directing. So far, we have produced four shows, including The Tremendous Adventures of Captain Gazpacho and an adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. Our productions often have a magical quality, coupled with a relatively dark approach.
Joan: For me, Teatro Calánime produces shows that are a mixture of German expressionism and Tim Burton.
Can you describe the show in three words?
Dustin: Comical, unconventional and gothic.
Joan: Ingenious, original and innovative.
Performed in Spanish, this fourth cycle of ‘Cuentos Cruentos’ will be showing at Poblenou’s Utopia 126 from March 17th-20th. Tickets are available for €11.20 using the discount code ‘barcelonametropolitan’ (valid until March 13th). More information here.