Teatro Sánchez Aguilar
WWhen the circus director and creator Leandro Mendoza was given the task of creating the first original circus for the Teatro Sanchez Aguilar, he knew that what he had to do to was construct a work of great cultural standard. He travelled through Ecuador (yes, a roadtrip) and by doing so he could find that something repeated itself constantly in the landscapes he visited. Constructions made with caña Guadua.
This natural fiber found in large quantities in the rural areas of our country was chosen as the protagonist of the play El Guadual. Thanks to its strength and durability it is the perfect material to build the necessary structures for the acrobats to shine on stage.
In addition to the structures, the caña guadua brought to this play all the culture that surrounds it. This story tells how a circus company is lost in the middle of our country and ends up finding a group of farmers who slowly introduced them to this material while the acrobats with their skill and creativity teach them tricks and stunts.
But who are the people who make this play / circus a reality?
The credit goes first to the Teatro Sanchez Aguilar. They, through their artistic director Ramón Barranco took the initiative of creating the first circus company of the country. They opened the call for all who were interested in integrating this project and the response was gratifying.
From street jugglers to conservatory singers they came to the premises of the theatre to try their luck and show their talents. Among more than fifty auditions, eleven were chosen for the play.
Priscila Aguilera is the voice. She not only had to explore the limits of her singing to be part of the cast, she also underwent rigorous training so she could learn stunts. Jordy Burgos is one of the musicians of the play. He contributed with his knowledge of traditional instruments like the charango and some of his music is their original production.
We cannot forget the acrobats, a must in every circus. Byron Malquin and Jose Cuenca are the duo of the aerial acrobats and dance floor. They have been together in the circus for twelve years and have travelled all over the world. Before Guadual they where in Australia but could not resist the idea of returning to their country, a place that they love more than any other. For them it is amazing to perform in front of their own people.
The atmosphere that exists prior to the last function is cheerful, exciting and also relaxed. But nobody forgets the risks; the guadua is a natural fiber and as everything organic it eventually starts to lose its qualities, and today being the last function also makes it more susceptible to accidents. They must rely on the guadua as much as the people with whom they perform their stunts.
Gradually the spectators begin to fill the seats in the main room. The lights go out and the play starts. Watching it after having met all its members has a special feeling, we now know that despite their skills and talents they are human beings with flaws and fears; and that at the end of the day they are all flesh and blood.
It begins with a wonderful rooster personified by three acrobats that together mimic this animal so typical of the rural areas. Not only gestures, also the colors of the costumes give an original majesty to this short but entertaining introduction.
Then we can see how between a Guadual, part of the members begin to appear, while others sleep in a floating oval shaped "home" built entirely with guadua. When these two groups meet the show begins.
Their costumes are another point to remark. At first sight they lack the bright colors of a typical circus, but in reality represent the simplicity of the Ecuadorian montuvio. This simplicity both in clothes and in well-kept details make the public fall in love.
One by one they begin to show their skills, whether singing, juggling, solo acrobatics or duo, strength and balance, “El Guadual” has it all. But the work is not only individual, each segment usually consists of a stunt choreography as a transition in which all work together, always using guadua in some creative way.
In the end everything comes out perfectly and the public appreciates it with an endless standing ovation. Gradually they come out to the main hall and there the cast greets the public. Everybody wants to say hi and take pictures with them. Smiles and hugs are the manifestation of a well-done project with more than two years of effort and dedication.
The joy not only involves the members of El Guadual. Also stewards, the production team responsible for security, lighting, video production and marketing, everyone is smiling because they know they have been part of this wonderful event.
Once viewers have left, the team meets to celebrate with a toast the end of an era. Although this has been the last show in Guayaquil, the circus company is now heading to Barcelona, where they will be presented at the Grec, one of the most important art festivals in Europe.
El Guadual still has a long road ahead. There is so much they have yet to achieve. And although the play says that El Guadual was born of an accident, it is clear that in reality it is the fruit of the work of a team committed to enriching the culture of Ecuador.