Saturday, 29 June 2019


a play by Marius von Mayenburg
directed by Alejandro Tortajada

I went to see Perplejo (Perplex), a delightful absurdist comedy by von Mayenburg interpreted by amateur actors at Espai Cultural of Albalat dels Sorells. Just like the short film screening, it was a cosy, almost a family event. The director sat in the penultimate row of the stalls (I was in the ultimate) and from time to time helped the actors who kept forgetting their lines. The ending, I should admit, was a bit anticlimactic: I was expecting something really crazy.

Featuring Daniel Catalán, Pilar Trenco, Felicidad Muñoz, Manuel Fernández, Fina Cortina, Llorenç Albarracín, Dolores Trenco, Carmen Cortina, Julia Navarro and Sara Moreno.

Friday, 28 June 2019

Two short films

Yesterday, I went to Castillo de Albalat dels Sorells, which currently hosts the Town Council, to see two short films dedicated to LGBT pride. A man in a white shirt approached me and introduced himself. “I am a mayor”, he said. “Welcome.” Obviously, in all the gathering I was the only new face for him.

Before the screening, the mayor (named Nicolau) greeted everybody in Valencian and councillor of Ayuntamiento de Albalat Javi González read the LGBT+ manifest. The projection was followed by tertulia (here’s my chance to use the word I learned this month) led by Luisa Notario, city councillor of Ayuntamiento de Valencia, and Eley Grey, a teacher and writer. As the discussion was in a mix of Spanish and Valencian, I understood about 70% of it. After that, we were offered ice-cold horchata with fartons. Nice.

Eran otros tiempos (2018)

a film by Alejandro Talaverón

Director’s granny talks about her secret love.

Vestido nuevo (2007)

a film by Sergi Pérez

A boy likes to dress up for carnival. So what?

Thursday, 27 June 2019

Tell It to the Bees

a film by Annabel Jankel

I discovered this film yesterday, and quite by chance. The original intention to check out Toy Story 4 and Dumbo (yes, the double bill) in cine de verano, after spending some time in an enormous queue there, was replaced by plan B, viz. to watch a movie in VOSE in the queue-less and highly commendable Cines Babel. And what a great decision it turned out to be.

The title was misleadingly translated to Spanish as El secreto de las abejas — no, the film is not about bees’ own secrets. There are human secrets, of course. As it happens, too many secrets for a small Scottish town in the 1950s. I hope things changed by now there. But you never know.

The plot is very much believable (apart from one scene closer to the end involving, quite predictably, a lot of bees); the acting is superb, beyond the main triangle of Jean (Anna Paquin), Lydia (Holliday Grainger) and Charlie (Gregor Selkirk); and the end is not exactly happy but not unhappy either. I loved it.

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Eight Polish animation shorts

I went to Teatro Guiniguada yesterday to see a programme of Polish animation shorts, the second event of the Polish animation retrospective organised by Animayo, Instituto Polaco de Cultura and Filmoteca Canaria.

  1. Slodkie rytmy (Sweet Rhythms) by Kazimierz Urbanski (1965)
  2. Solo na ugorze (Solo in a fallow field) by Jerzy Kalina (1982)
  3. Cserwone i czarne (Red and Black) by Witold Giersz (1964)
  4. Syn (Son) by Ryszard Czekala (1970)
  5. Ziegenort by Tomasz Popakul (2013)
  6. Sztuka spadania (Fallen Art) by Tomasz Baginski (2004)
  7. Dokument (A Documentary) by Marcin Podolec (2015)
  8. Tajemnica Góry Malakka (The mystery of Malakka Mountain) by Jakub Wroński (2012)
Unfortunately, I missed the first event of the cycle last week. With all respect, the yesterday’s programme was dominated by depressing and/or disturbing films, with notable exception of Cserwone i czarne and Tajemnica Góry Malakka. In the latter, the Boteroesque six-year-old called Junior embarks on a journey to China to solve the mystery of his father’s disappearance. Marvellous.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

The Navidad Incident: The Downfall of Matías Guili

by Natsuki Ikezawa, translated by Alfred Birnbaum

I never heard about Ikezawa before. I took this book from the library purely on the strength of its translator’s name. Could it be as good as anything by Murakami, I wondered.

I was not disappointed, although there’s no need to compare the two authors. The story is captivating and I even developed some sort of feelings towards its protagonist, President Matías Guili (undoubtedly, a criminal, but then all dictators are) and his long-time “secret partner” Angelina but, strangely, more yet towards his perpetually merry (hench)men, Ketch and Joel. The history of the fictitious Navidad Archipelago reminded me of that of equally fictitious San Lorenzo from Cat’s Cradle (“When England claimed San Lorenzo in 1706, no Dutchmen complained. When Spain reclaimed San Lorenzo in 1720, no Englishmen complained” and so on). The acute accent over the third a in “Baltasár” is never explained.

On the island of Gaspar, passengers are forbidden from drying their laundry on bus windows. During the Japanese occupation, when bus service was introduced between Baltasár City (then Shokyo, the “Showa Capital”) and the village of Diego (Dego), a rumor spread among the womenfolk that laundry hung on bus windows dried more quickly, so buses came to be used more as clothes driers than as transportation. The sight of brightly colored clothing fluttering from every window, however, conflicted with the aims of a modern conveyance, so the gravely concerned bus staff adopted a strict ban on “boarding the bus with wet clothing”. The phrasing “with wet clothing” failed, however, to specify whether the people were carrying or wearing the clothes. And in a land of sudden tropical showers, what use are buses that refuse service to someone who happened to get caught in a downpour? Thereafter, the rule was amended to read: “Passengers are forbidden from boarding the bus with wet clothing, except for what they themselves have on”.
Discussions were held between the women and the transport company; the drivers maintained there was no plausible reason why laundry draped out of bus windows should dry any faster than elsewhere, and the housewives claimed from personal experience that it most certainly did.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Free live music and other cultural events in Las Palmas, May 2019

Another month, another great choice of live music and more.

  • 1 May: Canarias FeelGood! by Arehucas @ Plaza del Pilar, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
      Sponsored by Arehucas (yes, the rum distillery), this one-day festival presented seven bands from seven Canary islands. I saw the last song Abel Cordovez & Benahoare Reggae Band (naturally, reggae, from La Palma), the complete performances of Barrabass Sound System (also reggae and dub from Lanzarote) and Guineo Colectivo (Afro-beat from Fuerteventura) and the first two songs by El Monstruo de Funkenstein (as you can imagine, funk, from La Gomera).

  • 2 May: Aubrey Logan @ Auditorio Alfredo Kraus, Avda. Príncipe de Asturias
      Before playing two dates with Perinké Big Band, Aubrey Logan (of Postmodern Jukebox fame) gave an illuminating masterclass of jazz vocal and jazz improvisation.
  • 4 May: Rocío Márquez @ Parque Doramas
      The cantaora from Huelva was accompanied by Canito (guitar) and Agustín Diassera (percussion).

  • 16 May: Jonay González Mesa @ Teatro Guiniguada, Plaza F. Mesa de León, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
      I heard Jonay G. Mesa some three years ago as one-half of Touché! and last month with Althay Páez. I have to say that his masterclass, like the one by Javier Sánchez in January, was heavy on content — scales, harmony, rhythm — and light on interaction. There was very little of the latter. I loved the way Jonay plays samba/bossa nova and the fact he does not use any pedals or effects. In the end of the class, Jonay was joined on stage by his bandmates Ruiman Martin Leon (double bass) and Amilcar Mendoza Pros (drums) for a beautiful rendition of Someday My Prince Will Come.
  • 18 May: Noche Europea de los Museos @ Museo Castillo de Mata, Calle Domingo Guerra del Río, 147
      We’ve never been to Castillo de Mata before, and this year the European Night of Museums provided an opportunity. It was a free event but we had to get the tickets in advance (two tickets per person only). Altogether, there was eight one-hour long shows/installations/whatever you call it, four on Friday (21:00, 22:00, 23:00 and 24:00) and four on Saturday, with up to 150 people attending the show. The programme included:
      • La compañía Pieles: Barco y Acequia
      • Ana Alcaide with Bill Cooley and Rainer Seiferth: Luna Sefardita
      • Arte corporal: Los esclavos en la Isla del Azúcar
      • Ludovica Rambelli Teatro: 23 Tableaux Vivants of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio
      • Jeringonza & Ballet del Atlante: Danzas del Canario y de las Hachas
  • 19 May: Moonlight Benjamin @ Auditorio José Antonio Ramos, Parque Doramas
      Last month I was wondering how better to call “the venue” in the Parque Doramas where I almost religiously go every week or so. Well, now it’s officially called Auditorio José Antonio Ramos, after the celebrated Canarian musician José Antonio Ramos (1969—2008). The Haitian-French singer (and Voodoo priestess) Moonlight Benjamin was the first to play in the newly christened auditorium. She presented her fascinating “voodoo-blues-rock” fusion in a company of Matthieu Vial-Collet (guitar), Yohann Marra (guitars), Quentin Rochas (bass) and Bertrand Noel (drums).

    More photos of Moonlight Benjamin @ Shutterstock

  • 29 May: Cristina Ramos @ Plaza de Santa Ana
  • 31 May: La Noche de Cuba @ Auditorio José Antonio Ramos
      Originally scheduled for 11 May, this concert was postponed until yesterday. Absolutely fabulous night of son, guaracha, salsa, mozambique and timba performed by vocalists Diamela del Pozo, Edulman Aragon Gonzalez and Sofiel del Pino and the band of Totó Noriega (congas, vocals) featuring Yoriell Carmona (tres cubano), Osvaldo Hernández (timbales), Fofi Lusson (bass), Armiche Jonay Moreno Suárez (percussion), Josue Santana (piano), Arístides Sosa Benítez (trumpet) and Fran Suárez (saxophones).

And so, May is over.