When Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables was taken to Broadway and condensed into a show, a songwriter thought that all the themes encompassed in all those volumes could be summarised in a few catchy and melodious lines. The People’s Song (‘Do You Hear the People Sing?’) was consequently written with the purpose of permitting the audience understand that the plot was about a social struggle:
“(…) When the beating of your heart, Echoes the beating of the drums (…).”
These are the lines that immediately came to my mind after having watched ‘Urraka’, a grand tour through different musical styles which breathes instrumental life into ordinary and worn out objects. An uproarious hour-long musical show where actors, dancers and musicians dance, play instruments, and generally make the audience roll in the aisles.
This group of artists carry the beating of the instruments in their veins, their blood, their muscles, and their hearts. This internal beat is what forces them to make unwanted movements no matter how hard they try to keep their bodies still. Although the proposal of the group has always been to create a humorous spectacle and the tone of the play is undeniably comic, there are underlying social elements, such the role of women in society, which make the performance even more intriguing.
With the possibility of articulating any sound eradicated, it is the performers’ muscles, bones, extremities, and the rattling of instruments that take on the responsibility of conveying a message. The body movements of these seven young actors help raise a social awareness that is captured in choreographies designed for different musical genres, including: cumbia, jazz, rock, reggae, milonga, tango, chamamé and electronic. Urraka’s performers test their anatomies to the limit and move until they dance on the face of adversity.
In order to reinforce the populist idea of recreating, re-emerging, and renewing, the instruments used are everyday objects such as bottles of water, wine barrels, pipes, saucepans, caps of soft drinks, toilet paper tubes, and matchboxes. Just as the protagonists of Les Misérables used regular elements (chairs, tables, doors, wheels) to create a barricade and prevent the despotic regime from attacking the new revolutionary group, Urraka´s actors are trying to introduce us into a new kind of theatre – the psychical one – greatly inspired by pantomime and silent films, and which is not so silently taking its roots in the current independent scene.
This spectacle is not to be missed if you find your capacity for awe has been diminished. An original creation whose central aim is to make the audience laugh, but where we can still infer social considerations. Convincing proof that important changes are produced when individuals get together, involve their bodies and their minds, and let the inspiration flow.