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Ortiga is an artistic collective based in Banyoles, Spain, born in 2016 thanks to Ingrid Codina and Guillem Geronès, who take care of the artistic direction.
Alongside them, we met Clara Centenera, the company's actress, and Michael Lucuyer, composer and multi-instrumentalist.
The aim of the Collective is to create spaces for artistic encounters and coexistence, in which to do research, dissemination and environmental and social awareness.
Ortiga currently presents performances, immersive experiences, educational projects, courses and actions on the territory, in festivals, cultural programmes, social and environmental projects and schools of national and international scope.
The different artistic proposals seek to make culture accessible to all, participatory, decentralised, and to offer a space where to experiment, imagine and investigate in an intimate and sensitive way, and where to discover paths for the regeneration of the habitat and the social fabric, in an interdisciplinary and intergenerational framework.
"Art, with its symbolic capacity, opens up the emotions necessary to remake and invent new collective imaginaries, vital for an ecological and social awareness."
YOU ARE A COLLECTIVE THAT PURSUES AN ARTISTIC PROJECT CONNECTED TO THE EARTH, BOTH IN TERMS OF ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL, AND POLITICAL SENSES. WHEN AND HOW WAS ORTIGA BORN?
Ortiga was born in 2016 with the dream of telling contemporary issues through theater and poetry, targeting audiences of families, from the youngest around five or six years old to adults.
We propose an alternative way of engaging with current events, different from the bombardment of information we receive daily from newspapers, the internet, and television. We speak about reality with the desire for people to empathize with it.
Our first show always dealt with the theme of the earth; it was the story of a person who has to move from one country to another to survive.
We wanted to address why someone must leave, must go away. In particular, in our story, we referred to all those countries where water is a reason for conflict.
This show was called Kumulunimbu, and Ortiga was born around it.
With Kumulunimbu, we traveled throughout Europe, and from the experience of many years of performances, we began to reflect on how we could go a bit further, how we could deepen our relationship with our audience even more, to make the experience more intense, more intimate.
We asked ourselves how we could tell a story in such a powerful way that the audience could truly feel, in a certain sense, as if they were living this story, through sensations and emotions.
And so we came up with An-ki.
The company was born from a question: how can we also contribute our little grain of sand, considering everything that is happening in the world? We deal with theater; this is our language, how can we bring it to light and use it to tell what we want to tell to as many people as possible?
Ortiga Company - Kumulunimbu
Speaking to people from a different perspective, from a different place, not through information, because this excess of information leads people to distance themselves from reality, to say "I can't do anything about it," trying to reach them from a more intimate place.
Reaching people through emotions. The themes of our first show were climate change and migrations.
We were in the years just before the war in Syria, and in Spain, newspapers talked every day about the refugee issue.
For people, it had become normal.
We had become accustomed to seeing the stories of migrants crossing the sea on boats every day on television, in newspapers.
We believe that Kumulunimbu was a very successful form of show to try to explain what was happening because people felt great empathy with the show.
In the end, we explained that the story was the intertwining of two real stories.
In the house where I have lived for thirty years, Guillem, there is an association that deals with welcoming migrants managed by my mother, and therefore many people and stories have passed through my house.
That is why I could speak firsthand about this experience even though I had never experienced it because I have lived together with many migrant people who have brought me their stories.
After the show, there was always a great debate among people, and these exchanges with the audience were very important for the development that Ortiga then decided to have as a company.
Ortiga Company - An-ki
LET'S TALK ABOUT AN-KI. CAN YOU TELL US HOW THE IDEA FOR THIS SHOW WAS BORN AND WHAT WAS THE CREATIVE PROCESS THROUGH WHICH IT WAS BORN?
As we mentioned before, An-ki came as a result of a reflection that we, as a company, matured.
We, as Ortiga, ask ourselves, faced with this great, rapid climate change, what can we do to stop it?
And from this question, from this need to do something, the thought arose that through art, we can somehow awaken environmental consciousness.
It's a big goal, of course, but our desire is to, in our own small way, change things.
In An-ki, the main message we want to convey is that we are part of nature; as human beings, we are part of nature, and to convey this, we needed to create a show with a sensitive, intimate dimension, where it was really possible to touch, perceive this sense of belonging, closeness.
The excess of information, even on the subject of climate change, is generating a lot of anxiety in children, but also in adults, the theme of eco-anxiety, eco-phobia.
Before telling people that they must take care of what surrounds them, nature, others, it seems necessary that people themselves fall in love with nature, fall in love with what surrounds them because it is very difficult to take care of something that you do not know.
Children live in cities 99% of their time; how can you sensitize a child to nature who is not in contact with nature?
Ortiga Company - An-ki
This is why An-ki is a fantastic, visionary experience, within an imaginary, to awaken this love.
Concerning the creative process, we worked during the covid on the technical structure of the show for a year inside a monastery, and then after the pandemic, for two years we rehearsed as guests of the Mutte Cultural artistic residence at the Pontos convent, creating a very fruitful relationship with the group and in particular with Prisca Villa.
At this stage, Clara Centenera and Michael Lecuyer fortunately also joined the team..
The journey was very long because An-ki takes place entirely inside a circus tent; it is an immersive show, which means that everything around you is set design.
We studied with the Teatro de los Sentidos; every detail is carefully considered.
We call the spectators "travelers," and this changes their way of experiencing and perceiving the experience.
Every person who enters our tent becomes a traveler, and we accompany them on this journey by guiding them through the different perspectives of us three guides.
The starting point of the dramaturgy was to talk about the mistreated earth and the consequences that these damages have on all living beings that populate that land, people, animals, plants.
And then we knew that the protagonist would be a child, our heroine.
An-ki is a child who, to endure the violence around her, creates an imaginary world.
Around her, there is a country victim of deforestation, with all that follows, people leaving, people staying, conflicts.
We investigated many themes.
Ortiga Company - An-ki
Returning to the set design, every element must be credible, sensorially credible, to touch, sight, hearing.
We preferred natural materials and recycled materials. In our country, there is a landfill where people bring all the things they no longer use, and we drew from there.
And we preferred materials that last over time so that we do not have to use things that we then throw away.
And then water, sand, earth, these elements recur in our shows.
And also boats, clouds, rain.
Artistically, we always ask ourselves if what we are doing, using, can be good for the Earth.
This coherence is important, between what we do and the message of the show we are conveying.
Maintaining this coherence has not been easy, but we have tried.
In any case, we have a ton and a half of set design, and it takes a day and a half to set up.
Banyoles landfill - Spain
AS A BACKGROUND, YOU ARE NOT PUPPETEERS,
SO HOW AND WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO INCORPORATE PUPPETRY?
We come from physical theater, circus, clowning, plastic arts, Ingrid also from social theater, theater of the oppressed.
The puppet came naturally.
We are not trained puppeteers, but it was a common need that moved us.
While we were working on Kumulunimbo, the need to have a small being arose naturally.
To connect with a puppet, only roughly sketched, in wood, leaving the material its personality, all its vitality.
It was the story itself that we were telling that demanded it.
The puppet was the ideal form to tell our story and allow us to change perspective.
The beautiful thing about the puppet is that you are in service to the puppet; it is its story that you are telling, you are just a means, a channel.
In An-ki, this is also very beautiful because we use many different languages, very small puppets, larger ones, made of paper, masks, objects.
Always within this idea of recreating a fantastic world.
We really like to think that we can create new imaginaries for children to break old imaginaries, for example, the scientific approach, which is very important, of course, but how to change the point of view, for example, proposing a fantastic, visionary approach, and puppets are access keys for this.
It is interesting how this imaginary gives children a language.
They are metaphors through which they can then talk to adults about these themes; they can talk about a giant arriving, which is capitalism, but they couldn't talk about capitalism.
A giant is a metaphor that also allows children, in a respectful way for their age, to talk about these current issues.
It is important to talk about it, to question it, but in a way that is close to their sensitivity and age, that does not exceed it.
Ortiga Company - An-ki
LET'S TALK ABOUT ORIGINARIA. HOW DID THIS PROJECT COME ABOUT,
WHAT EVOLUTION IS IT UNDERGOING?
As we mentioned earlier, while touring with Kumulunimbo, we found that often after the show, a spontaneous debate would arise, with people expressing a desire to continue discussing the theme.
For us, the feeling of arriving, performing the show, and then immediately having to leave again made us reflect on the opportunity to imagine a project that had a different timeframe, one that, precisely because it focused on the environment, was not conceived with this constant coming and going, and with an unsustainable environmental impact.
So, we began to imagine that this space that hosts An-ki could be installed for a long time in one place.
And that this time would allow for progression, proceeding step by step.
And thus, Originaria was born, which progresses in three steps.
First, people see An-ki, and this opens up to emotion, and we relate to each other in a different way, people among themselves and with us.
Then, we inhabit the installation with games, for children and parents who have seen the show and find a space to interact with each other while continuing to play with An-ki's elements, the giant, for example, or the protagonist.
And this is a space where children can continue to live the story, ask questions, change the ending, a space where they can express what they experienced during the show.
Ortiga Company - Originaria
And then the third proposal of Originaria is to carry out an environmental action for the place that hosts us.
To prepare for this, we conduct investigations on the place where we will be guests, have a meeting with an ecologist to identify the environmental needs of that place, and then organize the action.
Normally, Originaria interacts a lot with schools in small towns.
Usually, when possible, we stay for two weeks.
We set up the An-ki tent, the space for games, which is also a space for workshops, meetings, and experiments, and then finally there is the environmental action in the place.
Always with this idea of pause, and not of going and coming back, Girona/Paris in two days, which is actually very strong even for our biological rhythm, always disrupts the natural rhythm.
We believe it's more interesting to stay, create bonds with the people who come to see you.
Behind Originaria, there has always been the idea of creating a meeting space.
The experience of Kumulunimbo, of this constant touring without being able to stop to exchange with the audience, in a more consumeristic festival dimension, generated this desire for a different time.
Originaria proposes a space to stop and meet through art: there's the show, there's the game space, the workshop space.
With Ortiga, we try to create these meeting opportunities; it seems more necessary than ever.
With Originaria, generally during the week, we work with schools, and then adults are added on the weekend, and it's the children who, enthusiastic about meeting us during the week, drag their parents to follow the weekend activities, which is also very interesting for us.
Ortiga has always loved working with children because they are the ones who have the memory.
You give a powerful artistic experience to a child, and that's a gift that will stay with them for a lifetime, and they will carry it in their memory.
This is why we believe so deeply that it is necessary to create quality theater for children, which is why we test our shows for three years, because you have the opportunity to plant a seed in a child that will stay with them for a lifetime.
Ortiga Company- Originaria
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