The work of the great Spanish surrealist artist Joan Miró will be brought vividly to life in a spectacular open-air theatre production at the Irish Museum of Modern Art at 3.00pm on Saturday 15 July 2006. Merma Neverdies, a colourful and entertaining critique of the abuse of power, draws on the Catalan tradition of street parades in a visually striking production for audiences of all ages. The play features a series of grotesque characters in the form of larger-than-life puppets, which are exact replicas of those created by Miró for his original production in 1978. Admission to the performance is free.
The production is being staged in the magnificent grounds and courtyard at IMMA for one performance only, as part of IMMA’s 15th anniversary celebrations. It is being presented by the renowned Elsinor Theatre Company of Barcelona – led by the distinguished Catalan director Joan Baixas – complete with their own street band. It was shown for the first time in over 25 years at Tate Modern in May 2006.
Merma Neverdies follows the adventures, and misadventures, of the tyrannical Merma, along with those of the Woman (Mrs Merma) and Merma’s Ministers – Priest Chives, Captain Doghead and Marquis Ofthepumpkin – the Horse and several other supernumeraries. These assorted characters range from giants with monstrous heads and six-foot-long arms to small timid creatures that whisper and squeal, with the entire spectacle looking as if Miró’s famous freeform shapes had suddenly come to life.
As the action begins in IMMA’s Formal Gardens, Merma makes his grand entrance in his chauffeur driven car to the exultation of the crowd. An elaborate parade then begins but, as things progress, misunderstandings and fights break out leading Merma to decree that all present are to be his slaves. Buoyed up by his new-found power, Merma sets off on a triumphant procession, followed by his disciples weeping and moaning in the style of a Spanish Easter parade. Eventually Merma begins his assent of the ceremonial steps – possibly to everlasting glory – only to be tripped and brought low by some of his underlings to the general delight of all.
In its ridiculing of the absurd behaviour of the despotic Merma and his entourage, Merma Neverdies evokes the spirit of Miró’s production, Mori el Merma (Death to Merma), which was first presented just three years after the death of Francisco Franco in 1975. This in turn was inspired by the French writer Alfred Jarry’s famous burlesque farce Ubu Roi, in which Jarry attached the abuse of power as personified by the despotic Ubu. Joan Miró became fascinated by the character of Ubu in the 1920s, resulting in an extensive series of lithographs and several sculptures. But it was when he began to associate Ubu with the dictatorship in Spain that his views found their most complete expression in the form of Mori el Merma.
Elsinor Theatre Company has been presenting cultural events, festivals and spectacles for the past 15 years, working with such distinguished directors as Peter Greenaway, Calixto Bieito and Peter Brook. Joan Baixas is a noted director, dramatist and painter, who has worked with artists, theatre companies and festivals throughout the world for over thirty years. His collaboration with Joan Miró goes back to 1978 when his company Teatre de la Claca worked with Miró on the first production of Mori el Merma in the prestigious Gran Teatre del Liceu in Barcelona and in Paris, London, Rome and Sydney. He is particularly interested in the production at IMMA, as it returns Merma to Miró’s original concept of street/outdoor theatre.
There will be one performance only of Merma Neverdies on Saturday 15 July at 3.00pm. The performance lasts for about one hour.
Admission is free.
For further information and images please contact Monica Cullinane or Patrice Molloy at Tel: +353-1-612 9900 or Email: [email protected]
3 July 2006
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