Mónica Almirall Batet
Mónica Almirall Batet participates in Rencontres Internationales, a 11-day seminar as part of the Festival TransAmeriques in Montreal, from May 25 to June 4, 2019.
During this French-language seminar, young professionals from different artistic disciplines discuss and compare various approaches to contemporary art, confronting their own, often radically different, artistic realities.
Tell us a little bit about you and your work: how is the relationship between the two of them? Explain to us the journey that brought you to where you are professionally? What do you love about your work?
I initially approached performing arts through dance. It is my great passion. Working with the body and its expressive possibilities are always present in what I do. But little by little I became more interested in the theater. So I studied drama as an actress at the Insitut del Teatre de Barcelona. That’s quite a classical background.
There I discovered that the traditional way of doing theater (a role, an old work of fiction, the hierarchy of a company…) didn’t suit me and I became interested in staging, in different and more personal ways to build pieces.
I have created, together with two other artists, a theatre project called ATRESBANDES and since 2008 we have been developing our own work. We are a slow and chaotic company, we need the long-term processes of a laboratory, but I cannot approach the work in any other way. My journey as a performer and playwright is linked to the journey of the company. We began in a narrative field but right now we are interested in more abstract and suggestive staging. We view the stage as a landscape of pictures.
It is cliché to say that theater is not actual work for me, that it is a way of being. And that changes my relationship with planning, with money, with the holidays, with the others…
Tell us an anecdote about your initial stages as an artist.
It ocurred during a performance for a museum. The dancers were performing a choreography and we, the actors, had to wander around as if we were lost in the space. A lady touched my back and told me to move away as I did not let her see the show!
Describe your workspace? What could we find in your “workshop”?
I don’t have my own workspace. With my company we work in a small cultural center in a Barcelona neighborhood that has become our home. It is a space with big windows through which we can see a nursery school and the playground where we started training.
What is unique about your work?
Unique? I don’t think my work is unique. Or only because it’s me who is doing it. I think everything has already been made. So my work is only a filter, a synthesis of all the references and daily life experiences that shock me, that I’ve had and I will continue to have.
What brought you to Canada? What is your relationship with this country?
It will be my first time in Canada. The opportunity to participate in the FTA Festival came by chance. I didn’t expect it, it was a surprise for me. “Cosas del azar” as you would say in Spanish. Canada has always been a country that has sparked my curiosity. The cultural background, all the music and groups from Canada, the films from Xavier Dolan for example. The cliché of Canada (or what my friends have told me) is that it’s a fascinating and unique mix between the European and the American ways of life. We’ll see.
Do you have any new projects in mind? Professionally speaking, which direction are you taking?
I’m working right now with my theater company on two projects that will be released almost simultaneously in July and in October 2019. The first one is our new piece called CODA, inspired in Shostakovich’s life and music, and in collaboration with a string quartet and a pianist. The second one is a commission from a dance company, so we are just starting to work on the concept and dramaturgy.
Which object would you bring to a desert island or a secluded cabin in the forest?
An unlimited device with all the music I like plus a good and fun (not deadly) poison.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be on stage, playing or singing or dancing. It was clear from the beginning, since I can remember. Now, when I grow up, maybe I’d like to become a…
A special place for you in Spain?
The views from the balcony of my parents’ home in Barcelona, where I grew up. You can see the mountain of Collserola and Tibidado’s church.
What song is stuck in your head?
Right now, I’m completely absorbed in salsa music, concretely in all the US-based Afro-American musicians and groups from the 60s and 70s, when salsa appeared for the first time under this name. For example, I’m listening a lot to the percussionist Ray Barretto. One song? Acid.
Which book do you carry in your backpack?
I just finished The city and the house by Natalia Ginzburg.
Tell us about a special movie for you?
I absolutely love the trilogy of Ulrich Seidl Pradise: Love, Faith and Hope. I’m fascinated by the way he represents human rawness.
Tell us about a special show/performance for you?
I still remember a show of Joel Pommerat called Cercles/Fictions that I saw when I was finishing my theater studies. It’s a jewel of theater, a masterpiece. A sequence of different scenes, from the past, the present and the future, separated by many blackouts, ranging from dream images to daily life scenes.
And an artwork piece?
Goya’s black period and the Nenuphars by Monet. I’m never tired to see them again.
If you could change something –anything– what would you change?
The color of my room’s walls.