“God, what a good vassal if there were a good lord!”, says the troubadour of ‘Cantar de mio Cid’. The verse of the epic poem reverberates in the ears in line with the current debate between the monarchy and the republic in Spain. What does the actor and academic José Luis Gómez think about it, who gives voice to the adventures of the Campeador? For the founder of the Teatro de La Abadía, the dilemma “between monarchy or republic is a debate brought out of time at a time of anxiety.”
For the member of the Royal Spanish Academy (RAE), it is true that the King Emeritus has incurred «serious errors of personal conduct », mistakes that deserve “public censure.” “But it is not appropriate – he argues – to censor those behaviors and forget the previous ones.”
Gómez made these assertions during the presentation to the press of three passages from the medieval book on the adventures of a warrior, a character that has fascinated writers and filmmakers. Dressed in a black suit and with the sparse accompaniment of a piano and a few percussion instruments, Gómez unfolds in his 80s with smooth and measured movements, barely taking your feet off the ground to recreate the horse’s trot and bridle it.
El Campeador rides again, this time in a show directed and performed by the Spanish theater totem. From October 20 to 29, viewers will be able to enjoy the adventures of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, “A man loyal to his lord, King Alfonso VI”.
When 23-F happened, Gómez remembers that he was director of the National Dramatic Center (CDN). That day in 1981, ‘La velada de Benicarló’, an original text by Manuel Azaña, president of the Second Republic during the Civil War, was performed at the María Guerrero. “At that time the King rendered an invaluable service to democracy. Both the successes and the mistakes of Juan Carlos I are part of the same person and no citizen can confuse the public figures, who pass, with the State institutions, which remain.
Azaña and blush
Gómez is enervated by the sullen manners and the anger in the parliamentary seat like those experienced this week, nothing chivalrous actions that have caused him blush and shame. In a calm man like him, the words that Azaña said in Congress during a particularly stormy session are always present. “Since you are not blushing, let me do it for you”, evoked the giant of the scene to quote the leader of Republican Action. “Many of us blush when we saw the debate a few days ago; it causes me great regret. Normal citizens see leaders as people obliged to demonstrate a certain exemplarity.
He is not surprised by this attitude in a union, that of political and social forces, which blatantly displays their prejudices. «People of the live arts call us ‘pedigüeños’, or ‘los de la ceja’When the theater people are very hard-working, tenacious and hard-working people, ”he says indignantly.
The actor regrets that a country like Spain, with more than 46 million inhabitants and pretending to believe itself to be a cultural power, is looking at the policies concerning the performing arts with blinders. «Our cultural managers have not seen our theaters. Portugal has two state theaters with a fixed cast for several seasons. The same is true of Eastern Europe. ‘
Many have been written about the Campeador, a character subject to all sorts of historical distortions. Was he a warrior hungry for riches? A clever strategist? A traitor? A mercenary? José Luis Gómez is clear: «He was a man loyal to his king. And it is already known that when loyalty is broken there is an internal bankruptcy. Do not forget that in the times of Mio Cid what really existed was a civil war between Spaniards against Spaniards ».
As a literary document from the 11th century, the anonymous deed singing deserves to be listened to with the expressions and pronunciation of the Middle Ages. The meaning of some words may be lost almost a millennium later, but Gómez believes that the resonance of an ancient language is a “sensory experience.” «Just to hear a beautiful and rich language you have to go to La Abadía », sentence.