Another post-show Q&A first for me. Due to a last-minute scheduling conflict, Spanish playwright Guillem Clua had to cancel his flight to London to attend last night’s performance of his acclaimed two-hander The Swallow at the Cervantes Theatre, but he desperately wanted to take part in the post-show discussion – so the game team at the Cervantes slung up a big screen onstage and Guillem Skyped in from Madrid.
Guillem sent his apologies and told us more about his inspiration for the play. The 2016 terrorist attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which left 49 people dead, sparked headlines across the world. In the out-and-proud, metropolitan gay community in Spain, Guillem was shocked to realise that, as liberated as he and his friends, such virulent homophobia still existed. His touching two-hander, in which a mother and a young man come to realise that they are grieving, in very different ways, for same loved one lost in the city’s recent terrorist attack.
The custom-built, 75-seat Cervantes opened last year in Union Yard Arches in Southwark, just two doors down from the Union Theatre. Founded by the Spanish Theatre Company, its resident company, the Cervantes aim is to promote Spanish and Latin American drama to the wider London theatregoing community. Every production has alternating performances in both Spanish and English, with two separate, often cross-cast companies, under the same director.
THE SWALLOW had its world premiere, in both Spanish and English versions, at the Cervantes Theatre, last September when it headlined the venue’s first New Spanish Playwriting Season, sponsored by Accion Cultural Espanola. (For coverage – including audience reactions – from the play’s premiere run in 2017, visit MyTheatreMates.) This year, it’s returned to London’s new home of Spanish drama as part of a second new writing season, with David Luque and Jeryl Burgess reprising their roles in the English version (with David and Amparo Climent now having completed the run of the Spanish version, La Golondrina).
For the post-show discussion, I was also joined by David and Jeryl as well as translator Tim Gutteridge and director Paula Paz, who also co-founded the Cervantes Theatre and the Spanish Theatre Company. After the Skype with Guillem, the discussion turned to the challenges of translation and differences in cultures and performance as well as the mission and bi-lingual practices of the Cervantes. There were some fantastic contributions from the audience too, a few of whom had seen both versions of the play, and the majority of whom seemed determined to see many more shows at the Cervantes in future.
Check out livestreams from THE SWALLOW Skype and post-show discussion below, as well as event photography by Peter Jones and live-tweeting from the Cervantes Theatre and others.
Event photography by Peter Jones.
David Luque and Jeryl Burgess as Ray and Emily in the English version of THE SWALLOW at the Cervantes Theatre.