Multiculture, Our People

Germán D’Jesús: word and art combined on stage

The Venezuelan German D’Jesús, recently turned 32, makes his debut as a solo director with his play “Love and terror in the wind”.


Javier Duque


Germán D’Jesús has always had the theatre as part of his life. However, two years ago he decided to immerse himself in the theatrical world, in which he feels complete, thanks to projects such as the one he is currently undertaking.

With his ‘exciting’ play, “Love and terror in the wind”, D’Jesús puts himself forward as sole director, having co-directed the same work when it was first performed last September.

The play is a fusion of two stories. It tells the tale of a scientist who is injured while exploring the Venezuelan jungle, and of a parallel universe that is opened. In this new world he discovers an abandoned town devastated by the false hopes of oil exploitation.

The Prisma found a space in this real universe to speak to D’Jesús.

How did this project come about?

The project was first suggested in an interview I had in Mérida with the Venezuelan professor Briceño Guerrero. He is a philosopher who, despite not being very well known, is nevertheless brilliant. His books, though philosophical, also contain some dramatic elements and they have always greatly interested me.

Was the purpose of the interview to adapt one of his books to the theatre?

Well, I had always contemplated doing something of his, such as adapting one of his works to the stage. During the meeting I proposed the idea to him and he said it was a brilliant one, although at that moment I didn’t know how much he would help me.

So what did he do?

He put me in contact with the person who translated his books into English, who also liked the theatre, which was perfect for me as I was planning to write the play in English. Together we started to research which book to use as the foundation for the play, until we came up with “Amor y terror de la palabra” (“Love and terror of the word”), from which we took some characters on whom we were going to base the play.

And so it was finished…

No. The book wasn’t a dramatic work and we needed to make it more suitable for the theatre, so I focused on the Venezuelan playwright, César Rengifo, who is famous in his own region despite his name and work not being known to the wider world. I started to leaf through his works looking for someone who could be combined with the other characters. I chose “Las torres y el viento” (“The towers and the wind”) and from the union of both works came the play, “Love and terror in the wind”.

Now it was finished…

It only lacked financial backing. I sent the project, with a clear statement of what I intended to do, to the Venezuelan Embassy. Once they have approved a project, they do everything they can to help you carry it out.

So you also received some level of financial help, didn’t you?

As they supplied the venue, the Bolivar Hall gave a small contribution towards the actors and the costs of advertising, pamphlets, etc.

Are they professional actors?

They are actors who are entering into the professional world. Nearly all of them have finished or are studying drama.

Charity

The ticket for the play is free, but people can make a donation. Where is the money going?

The money is going to a charity called “PumpAid”, which builds sanitation facilities to provide clean water in Africa.

Is this a condition for holding the play in the Bolivar Hall?

No. It’s something that I decided to do because I have been raising money to build water wells in Africa for years.

Are you concerned about this issue?

I am interested in the water crises in the poorest areas in the world, particularly in central Africa where there are many people who do not have access to this most basic resource.

Have you been involved in any other initiatives to help people in need?

Two years ago I cycled around part of England for four days collecting money which was also used to build wells. Since then I have carried on campaigning.

Changing topic, this play is being advertised as somewhere people can get to know the arts of Latin America in London, is it not?

The basic argument is that Latin-American theatre is not very well known in Europe. Furthermore, the idea is to make known as many Latin-American writers as possible. For example, the work of César Rengifo was only available in Spanish, so I had to translate it. One of the main reasons I am writing and working in English is to share it with the London audience.

You are going to debut as director, what are your plans for the future?

For the time being I’m going to continue showing this play in different locations. In September, if possible, I would like to take it to different Venezuelan embassies in Europe and to other theatres in England. I would also like to start to create short courses about Latin American theatre here in London to continue raising awareness.

“Love and terror in the wind” is playing at the Bolivar Hall (54 Grafton Way, W1T 5DL) on the 6th, 7th and 8th April. More information: http://loveandterror.moonfruit.com.

(Translated by Harriet Payne)

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