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Paloma Pedrero

“There is a lot of subliminal resistance to gender equality in Spanish theatre”
Paloma Pedrero. Photo: Robert Munro
Paloma Pedrero. Photo: Robert Munro

Often referred to as Spain’s most represented female playwright, Paloma Pedrero is bringing a bilingual production of her play The Eyes of the Night, to the Cervantes Theatre in London. Between rehearsals, she tells Ruth Comerford about the reality that inspired the play and why gender parity in the arts has a long way to go…

Can you tell me about your new play?
I started writing this play at a moment in time when I was where I wanted to be professionally, but realising the cost and impact that had had on my personal life. Most of my female theatre colleagues didn’t have children, or, a partner. Lucia, the female character asks why she has to pay so much to achieve her professional goals, why it costs so much to feel. She lives a life of pretending, of paying for things to make her feel powerful. Power is not what you can buy with money, but what you have in your heart, by being able to listen and to enjoy life. Those who can do that are powerful people. Lucia thinks she’s in control, but it is Angel, a blind, poor man, who has
the power.

What are your views on the representation of disabled actors in theatre?
More needs to be done. Not in terms of the quantity – people say: ‘Yes, we need to do more’, but then they go and see commercial theatre, shows with stars. Until we put these projects at the same level as commercial theatre, say these people are artists, acknowledge their art, real change won’t happen. We live in a world where it’s all [about] image, what sells is ‘perfection’. My company, Falling from the Sky, works with people who are at risk of exclusion. Some of them are immigrants, refugees, women who have suffered domestic abuse and people with disabilities, mixed in with professional actors. The work is unique. You can see the honesty of their performances. It is very important to see this represented on stage.

What do you make of the current landscape for female playwrights?
When I started writing in 1985, there was only one female playwright whose work was being performed, and that was because her family had a theatre company. Fortunately, it has changed a lot – 30% of the plays that are performed in Spain are by female playwrights, so yes, it has improved, but there is still a long way to go. Politicians are saying there is equality and parity, but male playwrights are being staged in bigger theatres and female ones are being relegated and pushed into smaller theatres. All the talk is politically correct – it is very nice to talk about equality, but the reality is that all the artistic directors of the major playhouses in Spain are male. It is misogynistic. The rest of the world is better, I think. But there is a lot of subliminal resistance to equality.

What advice do you have for playwrights today?
Be yourself, don’t try to imitate somebody else, and don’t follow trends. Find your own musical note, your own truth in which you are in tune with yourself. Be generous
when you are writing, and be clear. Work on your technique, read and see a lot of theatre. This is very important because when you are lost, and you will be, you can go back to it.

CV Paloma Pedrero

Training: Sociology at the Complutense University of Madrid (1975-78); Cachivache theatre company (1978-81)
First professional role: Lauren in La llamada de Lauren (1985)
Agent: None

Cervantes Theatre: The Spanish-speaking world’s pioneering home in the UK

The Eyes of the Night is at London’s Cervantes Theatre until September 28. Further details at: cervantestheatre.com

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The Eyes of the NightThe Eyes of the Night

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