4 December 2005

Barcelono, Barcelona

On Tuesday I am flying from Tel Aviv to Barcelona. I will visit my friend, great artist - Catalan puppet master and director, Joan Baixas. Baixas is one of the founders of the "Teatre de la Claca". He is considered one of the most important artists in visual theatre. For almost twenty years, from New York's Lincoln Center to the Sydney Opera House, Baixas toured the world with his ground-breaking mime and puppet ensemble, Theatre La Claca, for which he devised, directed and appeared in extraordinary performances produced in collaboration with acclaimed painters, most famously his friend, Joan Miro.

In 1978 Joan Baixas (photo left) came together with the great surrealist painer, Joan Miro (photo right), and produced an production with giant puppets "Mori el Merma" (Death of a Tyrant). The puppets and the masks drawn by Miro for the Catalan company "Claca" have the inventive beauty of the sketches of teenagers rageurs. Ubu was not born differently, of some blows of pencil of a schoolkid, Jarry, carting a stupid and malicious pawn. One thinks indeed of Ubu, which Miro left, in front of these faces of nightmarish Lent, these tubers quivering like gelatine, these protuberances grotesque, these feet equipped with eyes exorbities and giant noses. These monsters represented the tyrannical Franco regime.

Joan Baixas has directed and designed theatre projects with Els Comediants and Circus Oz, events for cinema, TV and the fashion world and was director of Barcelona's International Visual Theatre and Puppetry Festivals. In 1982, I was fortunate enough to be a part of Baixas' first workshop in Charleville. This was dedicated to creating theatre from junk materials. We swept the abandoned factories of Charleville for any interesting garbage to recycle into theatre of objects. In 1999, many years after the first, I attended another workshop with Baixas in Bielsko-Biala, Poland. This time we created great theatre pieces out of anything. It was wonderful! And now six years later, we will meet again...