Remembering Karl Valentin

You do not have to explain to a German who he is Karl Valentin, the cabaret clown, the man of the popular theater, rubber face, a “walking joke” according to Bertolt Brecht. It would be like explaining to an Italian who he is geek. But here it must be said that while in the Weimar RepublicBetween two world wars, expressionist monsters were created and the egg of the serpent of Nazism was hatched, Valentin, skinny, skinny, caricature profile, was dedicated to making the inhabitants of Munich laugh (yes, the same city in which Hitler would coin his power) in cafes.

Now Tangarog Theater, under the direction of the also actress Lluïsa Mallol, recovers a handful of short pieces of the comedian under the title of ‘Oques cretines’, pure absurdity and a whole opportunity to know his work, which is easy to place in our imagination with Liza Minelli and Joel Gray in ‘Cabaret’, while a how far away an ominous ‘Tomorrow belongs to me’ sounds.

Three actors, Josep Maria Mas (with a silhouette very similar to Valentin’s), Ferran Castells Y Blanca Pàmpols, on a checkered floor in the tiny room Frégoli of La Seca Espai Brossa, embody the different characters of the 12 short pieces and a song, although Castells and Pàmpols reserve in the play the role of masters of ceremonies while Mas is the clown “to whom things happen & rdquor ;.

The montage begins with a monologue that, although written in the 1920s, is very topical: ‘Why theaters are empty. The obligatory theater ‘, an ironic declaration of intentions that pleads, humorously, for the state imposition of theatrical works. “Karl Valentin’s plays are usually worked on a lot in theater schools because they are short, very absurd, very funny and leave a great deal of freedom for interpretation. You can imagine anything with these characters, what matters most in them is the language & rdquor ;, explains Mallol, who was trained by interpreting the author’s works at the Institut del Teatre.

San Karl Valentin

Next Tuesday, February 14, is not only Valentine’s Day, the Goethe Institut is preparing a Karl Valentin day, for that of the saint of the day, in which the author’s texts will be read in German and in Catalan and in which The participants will be Lluïsa Mallol, director of Oques cretines, Thomas Sauerteig, German director and actor living in Barcelona, ​​and Feliu Formosa, poet and translator.


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Language is one of the keys that Feliu Formosa, translator of a work loaded with puns, has defined as “Speaking people don’t understand & rdquor;. And it is that in the works of Valentin, as in the case of Toto or Cantiflas, talking does not exactly mean communicating but rather messing it up, talking and talking in order to say nothing. “These works were represented with fascist propaganda in the background,” says Mallol, “and it is inevitable to think about the use and double meanings of words in the mouth of politicians, which in these times of post-truth and alternative events is in full force & rdquor ;.

Brecht deeply loved Valentin’s theater, which he defined as one of the “most penetrating intellectual figures & rdquor; of his time. But the comedian, man of the people, sure that the intellectual would give him a rash, despite the fact that he involuntarily opened the door of modernity for Beckett or Ionesco to pass through it. These readings can be done but Mallol prefers to talk about “a nonsense that gives a lot of laughter & rdquor ;, a definition that surely Valentin would like very much.