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A scene from the play during last year's festival.
A scene from the play during last year's festival. / SUR

A festical to drive you 'Lorca'

  • The 'Me Vuelves Lorca' festival has won a host of Spanish awards and returns this year with more improvised theatre and flamenco performances

The Me Vuelves Lorca theatre and music festival has just started its third year in the small village of Laroles in the Alpujarras.

The festival is the second phase of a project that Briton Anna Kemp, started around four years ago to try and create a catalyst for sustainable tourism in a little known part of the Alpujarra mountains.

“The first stage was to restore an ancient, tumbledown corn-threshing circle in the village of Laroles and transform it into an amphitheatre,” explains Anna.

She says that she was “inspired by the Minack theatre in Cornwall,” where she spent her summers as a child, as well as the figure of Rowena Cade, the woman who created it.

“The work was carried out by the local community using local materials and traditional know-how. We inaugurated the theatre in 2014 and held the first edition of Me Vuelves Lorca, our new theatre festival, in 2015.”

Anna explains that as the name suggests, the festival is inspired by García Lorca’s philosophy of breaking down the barriers to culture in rural areas.

To keep costs down, the village caters for the actors, as well as helping with lighting, sound and other aspects any festival needs. They recently raised 3,000 euros for a new stage as the old one had become too small. The money came from donations made by locals and festival supporters.

According to Anna, Me Vuelves Lorca has gained the support of many key figures in Spanish culture as well as tweets of support from Russell Crowe and Leonard Cohen. It has also won a host of Spanish awards, including an award for good practice in use of public spaces in Andalucía, awarded by the University of Seville in 2015 and sustainability awards.

Anna, 47, is originally from Bath in England and has lived in Spain for nearly 25 years. She first came to the Alpujarras when she worked on Fernando Colomo’s film ‘Al sur de Granada’ about Gerald Brenan. She now runs the festival with the help of her friend Jana Sánchez.

This year’s festival started on the 28 July and runs until 12 August and offers a variety of performances, from improvised theatre to flamenco, comedy and music.

Although last year’s festival included Sudbury Dramatic Society’s production of The Tempest in English to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, this year’s performers are all Spanish. Anna says that the Sudbury Dramatic Society was their “first foray into internationalism”.

Friday 4 and Saturday 5 August are given over to music from Jorge Pardo and Juan Perro respectively. Last Friday the women of El Vacie presented Fuenteovejuna, one of the Spanish classics by Lope de Vega, about the fight against injustice and the abuse of power. This was the latest production by this award-winning group from the shanty towns of Seville.

On 12 August, internationally acclaimed flamenco dancer, Belén Maya will be performing Romnia, her latest choreography. The dance explores different facets of Roma culture and draws attention to the discrimination and suffering of the Roma people. Belén was born in the USA to Spanish parents.