“I think there is a mandate from the highest management, those we don’t know, who tell us: stay at home, don’t go out, watch movies on the platforms, which are made by computers and are not really good. They are like giving a kiss through glass. Theater is flesh with flesh, person with person. That’s never going to change. And that is the magic of theater, which is still alive: blood, sweat and tears,” says Lía Jelín, who at 89 years old directs “Life Doesn’t Come Alone,” a café-concert comedy with dramaturgy and performance by Alex Pandev. It debuts tomorrow at El Tinglado and is the story of a disappointment in love that transforms into a conquest of life, with original music by Minino Garay. We talked with Jelín.
Journalist: What is this kind of Almadovarian trip and the nods to that cinema like?
Lía Jelín: Alex is like an Almodovar Girl. Her personality is one of humor crossed by pain. She has a lot of this dichotomous way of the great director’s girls, in which these extremes are mixed. This comes directly from Carlitos Chaplin, when she walks down the street where they throw garbage. She hears a baby crying and looks to see where he was thrown from. Also, for example, the laughter caused by stepping on a banana and falling: an accident seen as ridiculous and not tragic. Alex has something transgressive and cosmopolitan, due to the mix of cultures that live in it. Her “political incorrectness” is super valuable in these times, because it opens paths towards understanding others from an intelligent perspective.
Q: What attracted you to working with this playwright, columnist, actress and singer?
LJ: Alex arrived from Europe with a “baggage” of culture and prosperity and fell in love with Argentina. She perceives us with a unique resilience, and she loves that side of us. Not for nothing, her love is from Córdoba (Minino Garay), also the composer of the music for this work and a great world-famous percussionist. I was captured by her unique energy and charm. I believe she is a unique artist with a wealth of talent worth enjoying.
Q: How do tangos come in?
LJ: The show written by Alex is about the difficulty and frustration in life of finding the right soul. That person with whom you can spend years, and with whom with one look, you can know what the other person thinks. That happens very few times in life. There is the deep intellectual connection that involves guessing what the other is feeling. Tango talks all the time about the frustration of love: she left him, he left, because once the first fever has passed, what remains is understanding and empathy with the other. I believe that tango is the music that narrates those disappointments of abandonment and betrayal: what happens when the soulmate has not yet been found. The music composed especially for this work perfectly synthesizes the passage from heartbreak to empathy. I think it’s something similar to what happened in Confessions of Women of 30. This café concert has something of that spirit, but in a musical version.
Q: Do you talk about women then and now?
LJ: The feminists, Madame Curie; There were always strong women who were fighters and examples of strength and leadership. I think there were so many years of subjugation that women have a brutal ability for conspiracy. That is to say: getting what we want, not directly, but thanks to certain somersaults that are done in the air. I think that the social structure apparently puts a limit on the development of women, but each woman has the strength and talent to assist her. The idea is to jump over the fence of the allowed limit. It is necessary to do it autonomously, without waiting for the consent of society. In the work the limit that the protagonist manages to cross is that of not being tied to a convention of a couple “as it should be”, “how children should be raised” to the morals and ethics of the moment. Do not confuse these two: ethics is immovable. Morality changes with the times.
Q: How do you see the threat of cuts to culture?
LJ: Culture deserves to be free. State support, for example with the FNA, is essential. Without the bandoneon that he bought from Piazzolla I don’t know what would have happened. That is why I wish that talented people are subsidized and that we can continue advancing in theatrical research, beyond ideologies.