The House of Spirits takes on new life on stage. An adaptation of the novel that gave Isabel Allende immediate fame when it was published in 1982, also made into a film by Bille August in 1993, It will premiere this Saturday at the Spanish theater from Madrid under the direction of Carme Portaceli, who also signed the half version with Anna Maria Ricart. It is a monumental three-and-a-half hour show that brings the fragrance of magical realism to the stage and is at the same time a distillate of the history of Chile from the early twentieth century to the seventies through four generations of a family.
It is not the first time that Portaceli and Ricart have undertaken the challenge of bringing a novel to the theater together, since in previous seasons they have already adapted Jane Eyre (2017) and Mrs. Dalloway (2019). So they already have a method. “First we read the book separately and then each one points out what she thinks cannot be missing. From there we select the scenes and configure the structure ”, explained Portaceli on Thursday at the presentation of the show. It is a kind of distillate to get to the core of the work. “On The House of Spirits We consider that two things could not be missing: on the one hand, the contrast of two families with totally opposite visions of life that end up being united by a marriage and, on the other, the passage of time. The latter has been the most difficult: letting time and feelings develop organically during the performance ”, adds the director.
Of course, there was also the goal of catching the fragrance of magical realism that permeates the novel, where the wonderful merges with the real and the living speak to the dead. According to Ricart, language has been key in this process: “Beyond the clairvoyant powers of one of the protagonists, Clara, Allende’s gaze is what makes magic appear. I have tried to maintain that different way of looking that the author has and with which she builds a universe. Although I have focused mainly on what happens and on the dialogues, it is true that some of the descriptions cannot be ignored, since they largely contain the magic that is in the novel ”.
Fantasy and reality
Important in this transposition of magical realism to the scene is also the coexistence between reality and fantasy. This is reflected in the scenography, signed by Paco Azorín, which clearly divides the private and the public. That is to say, the house where the family scenes and the political background that underlies the novel take place. Three large screens project documentary images of historical events that shook Chile in the last century, especially the Pinochet coup, which has a direct impact on the life of the protagonist family. In addition, sound documents are heard with voices of real characters, among them Salvador Allende and Pablo Neruda.
Ten actors give life to the twenty characters that appear in the book. All are unfolded in different roles except three: Carmen Conesa, who plays Clara del Valle; Francesc Garrido, who gets into the shoes of her husband, Esteban Trueba; and Miranda Gas, who plays Alba, their granddaughter and narrator of the family’s history. The rest of the cast is made up of Jordi Collet, Inma Cuevas, Gabriela Flores, Pilar Matas, David Fernández Fabu, Borja Luna and Guillermo Serrano.
The show was supposed to have premiered last season, but the pandemic forced it to be postponed. After passing through Madrid, The House of Spirits It will be seen at the next edition of the Grec festival in Barcelona, which is co-producing the show together with the Spanish theater and Romea in Barcelona.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.