Working too much in order to survive, not enough time to think, and the pressure of the entertainment industry are some aspects which make us wonder what life will be like in a few years’ time.
Juanjo Andrés Cuervo
This is the idea that brought about “Guerrilla”, the theatre production which “is born of the existence of a silent war, despite living in the Welfare State,” says Tanya Beyeler, the play’s director.
Beyeler and Pablo Gisbert have devised a story which takes place in an imaginary and chaotic future, which has come about due to the problems caused by human activities.
Some of these are: technological development, social discontent, and electoral results in different countries.
Giving examples of this reality, Beyeler recognises that there exists “a sense of being over-worked and under-paid. But what’s it all for?” she asks herself rhetorically.
According to Beyeler, the answer is simple, yet tragic. “We’re slaves to money, living in a time when everything has a price. We need it to be able to live.”
In fact, she believes that “the economy dictates everything,” leaving political doctrines as “obsolete concepts”.
Furthermore, she regrets the impossibility of being a rebel nowadays. “They don’t allow us to revolt, because we don’t have time to think – we’re all too busy.”
This frenetic rhythm of life is partly due to “the pressure of the entertainment industry” declares Beyeler.
“The time we used to talk all together, we now spend looking at our mobiles, travelling, surfing the Internet, going to parties or social events, or spending time on social networks” she states.
In part, it is due to technological advances and their global importance. Regarding this topic, Beyeler believes that “it’s important to be informed”, but also “we have to be alert and rational, in order to distinguish between what is just a waste of time and what is really food for the soul”.
All of these problems could well lead to the apocalyptic future which is foretold in “Guerrilla”.
In an interview with The Prisma, Tanya Beyeler speaks of her experience as the play’s director, as well as her opinion on the political and social problems which have an impact on society.
“It’s all a lie, a bubble which is going to burst and nobody knows what’s going to happen”, declares Beyeler emphatically.
Testimonies of war
But is it possible to plan for this catastrophe? While the play was staging in Brussels, Beyeler spoke with some of the volunteers there. These conversations all indicated a clear idea: the same pattern which had appeared during the World Wars was repeating itself, when the majority of people who lived through them never expected them to happen.
In conclusion, Beyeler states that “war happens when it’s least expected”, although “in hindsight, it seemed obvious that it was going to happen.”
However, she highlights that “when you’re living in the moment, you’re not aware of the magnitude or of the consequences of it all.”
Beyeler declares that “we trust that the State will protect us – we behave well and obey the rules of the system – although it’s evident that we won’t be protected. We have no idea what a World War would be like in current times.”
Recently, the play was performed in the United Kingdom and before that in countries, such as France, Belgium, Greece and Ireland. All of these different audiences have been shown that this hypothetical, yet terrifying future “can never be foretold”.
According to Beyeler, “it’s fine to think and speculate” about it, just as is done in the play.
She states that one of the problems of this topic is that “they paint us a very dark future in order to manipulate us.”
“In this way, you think of the present and not of the consequences of things, or of your own actions. You stay in a childlike state.”
In order to make “Guerrilla” a reality, they work with 80 volunteers from where the play is being staged. Even though some of those volunteers are not actors, the project works fine.
Furthermore, before the play is staged, the production team send out a questionnaire to find out about personal war-related stories which happened to the volunteers, or their ancestors.
They then select 3 or 4 of these narratives and incorporate them into the play.
“It’s really interesting. The people come from all kinds of places. For example, in Dublin you meet somebody from Lebanon, or who has Croatian and Irish roots,” explains Beyeler.
One of these tragic stories is of a young girl from Indonesia who, at the tender age of 8, had to flee her country due to the internal conflicts that were happening there under the Suharto regime. On the very night when she escaped with her family, more than 1000 people died in the Asian nation.
Beyeler states that “the drama consists of presenting the conflicts of the twentieth century which the family members of the volunteers lived through, and then speculating on the future, in 2023, through which the volunteers themselves will live”.
Equally, “Guerrilla” is presented as one of today’s big issues, mixed together with fiction. In this imaginary reality, events – such as China’s invasion of the rest of Asia, or the limited participation of the United States on the world stage – take place.
The play is divided into three parts. Initially, the people are introduced and their stories are told, in relation to the conflicts that took place.
The second part portrays a Tai Chi class, while in the third; all 80 of the people who appear in the play are seen dancing at a rave. Throughout the play, on-screen projections are displayed.
Regarding her work, Beyeler admits that “all the parts are difficult,” especially when one scene ends and “in 30 seconds we have to change everything onstage.”
But she is satisfied, because it is a play which “caters to a wide range of tastes,” and she is surprised by the “good reception of the play by older people,” because of the Techno music used.
Obliged to migrate
Despite coming from Valencia, Beyeler works in Barcelona, because in her hometown it is more complicated. She believes that Catalonia undoubtedly offers “a more supportive environment” in order to develop her project.
Aware of the difficulty of finding work in many parts of Spain, due to the crisis, many people decide to move to Madrid or Barcelona to try their luck.
Put simply, it is the reality of a country which has spent years drifting along. Despite this, the Partido Popular (People’s Party) won again during the latest general election, even if some of its members are currently under investigation for embezzlement of public funds.
However, this problem does not surprise Beyeler. “Spain is a country with an aging population. Many people of older generations believe that life was better under Franco’s regime,” she states categorically.
What is more, one of the reasons that people fear change is because “human beings tend to be conservative and it’s difficult to trust in revolutionary ideas,” she highlights, while also recognising that even she finds it “difficult to imagine things any other way.”
Bearing in mind that “Guerrilla” portrays political and social reality in a hypothetical future, its performance is adapted, depending on where the play is performed. For example, in June the play will be staged in France, where there has recently been a change in government.
“If Le Pen had won, the significance of the play would have been far greater,” comments Beyeler, given that the play portrays the advance of the extreme right.
In the end, Macron won, but Beyeler is not convinced. “It’s no great joy at all. He’s a 21st century right-wing banker,” she says.
As her artistic projects gather momentum and keep turning like an unstoppable wheel, Beyeler is already planning her next project, which will debut in Switzerland, in March 2018.
Photos: Facebook, Free sources, Twitter – (Translated by Phil Keesing)