A evening gave us the 32 International Festival of Hispanic Theatre of Miami, directed by Mario Ernesto Sánchez, with the premiere of precious Stones, Paul Diaz, with the group at the end of The Out of Marbella, Spain, directed by Andrea Chacón Álvarez, and Raúl Mancilla. The piece narrates the friendship between Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) and Manuel, fictitious name of a real character, a young dancer, in Marbella. Cocteau, a very famous and somewhat eccentric painter –and also a filmmaker, playwright, poet, novelist, and designer, among other virtues–, next to meet the 72-year-old, first came to this beautiful city of the Costa del Sol, in April of 1961. The reason for the trip was to paint some panels for the boutique The Rope, his great friend Ana Pombo, a site that also functioned as a tea room and place of gathering. On that occasion he was working and enjoying the city around a month and a half. Fell in love with the place that she called “paradise”, which motivated him to return in August of that same year and where he remained until the end of September.
The history of the relationship of Cocteau and Manuel is based, in part, on the testimonies of the residents of the city who knew them. The rest is fiction, imagination, fantasy. More than a game, it was a clash between two worlds. Above the physical attraction that I could feel the old man by the young, outside mutual or not, the piece of Pablo Diaz explores the behavior of a teacher trying to show the student how to up a few stones collected on the beach can be transformed by art, in jewelry, in precious stones. Manuel is a young man of raw talent, Polish it, there are that teach that the knowledge base is to look within, to deal with the virtues and all the defects. The clash between these two beings it makes me think of an old zen proverb: “When the student is ready, the teacher appears”. Maybe this teacher to see, almost at the end of his life –he would die two years later, repeated its relationship with Raymond Radiguet, the brilliant teen author of The devil in the body, one of his great loves, whom both helped and whose early death –at age 20, the victim of a vulgar typhoid, nearly destroyed it. There is a moment in the work in which Cocteau collapses into the arms of Manuel and sobbing he says “Jean, Jean”, I think that, evoking another of his great loves, Jean Marais, the muse of the poet in several of his films and who later became famous in the role of Fantomas.
Precious stones premiered, precisely in Marbella, in April 2015, starring Manuel Salas and Rafael Amargo, and since then has been represented countless times in different points of the Spanish geography. Salas is an actor of long and successful career, both in theatre and in film and television. Bitter, a talented dancer, made his debut as actor with this piece. Both form a couple of impact. The direction is supported in a limited set, a couch to the right, a chair with its side table to the left, a dresser in the background with bottles of wine and a couple of hangers with clothes, that will be used by the actors to be changed, discreetly but to the full view of the public, something that could have been avoided without much effort. The result of this assembly, rather than tested, is an excellent start-where surface the inner conflicts of the characters and where it is possible to feel the evolution of the relationship and the passage of time, despite some sharp transitions. Good text, great performances, good direction, multimedia, lights, joining, to give us, as I said at the beginning, a superb overnight.