Last night, when Metro Manila was feverish, Miguel de Cervantes’ memorable characters, Don Quijote and Sancho Panza came alive as títeres or marionettes.
In 60 minutes, the talented and efficient duo of Àngel Fígols as Don Quijote and David Durán as Sancho Panza electrified the more than 100 people inside the Sálon de Actos at Instituto Cervantes Manila (ICM). Dressed in black, and with the venue cloaked in darkness, they opened the show with the deliberate lighting of candles and then the drama started. With a stack of books, two marionettes and an original language that sounded gibberish yet profoundly understandable at the same time, they succeeded in showing the vital parts of Don Quijote. They started with Don Quijote’s madness, his wanderings and misadventures with Sancho Panza, a cameo role of Dulcinea, the beatings Don Quijote received for being chivalrous, the dramatic appearance of the windmill, and the emotional deathbed scene. It was a virtual journey through the pages of Cervantes’ masterpiece, enhanced by the muted music in the background and the spectrum of emotions shown by the faces of the actors as they conveyed the inner struggles of their wooden marionettes.
It was my first proper marionette show, and I was dazzled by the performance. It did not have fireworks for props but the simplicity of costumes, props and stage made the overall performance far more eloquent. It was a little ironic that they used only one or two Spanish phrases and the rest might have been borrowed from a distant cousin of Elvish languages, yet the audience remained enraptured. Moreover, I did not expect the level of physicality involved in a marionette show. Àngel and David did not use long strings to control Don Quijote and Sancho Panza respectively because they were Don Quijote and Sancho Panza. The puppets were parts of their bodies and they moved and felt as a fusion of man and marionette.
Àngel and David are members of Bambalina, “a vibrant Valencian puppetry company that retells the classic Spanish epic, Don Quijote, for adults”. The performance might have been geared for the mature audience, but there was a handful of children in the audience, and they enjoyed it as much as their elders did.
According to Àngel, Quijote by Bambalina is visiting Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and New Delhi next as part of their Asian tour. Quijote by Bambalina’s music is by Joan Cerveró and under the direction of Carles Alfaro.
For more information about Bambalina, please visit www.bambalina.es.
To know more about Instituto Cervantes Manila’s upcoming activities or if you want to learn Spanish, visit its website at http://manila.cervantes.es/en/default.shtm or its facebook page at www.facebook.com/InstitutoCervantesManila.