Automatically translated from Basque, translation may contain errors. More information here. Elhuyarren itzultzaile automatikoaren logoa

"Being a racialized and Basque woman is exotic, tired and racist."

  • It is not usual to come from Colombia, learn Basque and strive to live in the theatre. It is not usual to combine the spectacular red dress with the walls of the Gothic church of the small town of Larumbe (Navarra). And it's not common for me to be so optimistic about being peripheral.
Argazkia: Dani Blanco / ARGIA CC BY-SA
Argazkia: Dani Blanco / ARGIA CC BY-SA
Laura Penagos Rodríguez. Suesca, Colombia, 1983

After graduating from the Escuela de Teatro Libre de Bogotá, he studied theatre at the University of Fine Arts of Cartagena de Indias (Colombia) and later at the University of Sabana. Meanwhile, in addition to participating in various plays, he held training sessions with the Workcenter Jerzy Grotowski and the Thomas Richards group in Barcelona and Italy. In 2008 she moved to Navarra and studied Basque. It provides body and vocal formations.

How were your first steps in the theater?
I was born and raised in Suescan, a small town in the department of Cundinamarca. I studied theater in Bogotá at the Escuela de Teatro Libre. It's a very good school. After four years I graduated very young and went to the University of Fine Arts in Cartagena to teach the technique of actor and voice for the scene. A year later, I taught techniques to speak in public at the School of Communication and Journalism at the University of Sabana, while participating in various assemblies.

How did he come to Pamplona?
I had a nervous breakdown in theater. In 2006, I was in a professional setup, we were doing Bertol Brecht's Mother Courage, and besides being an assistant director, we were also handing out actor. The pressure was huge and I had a panic attack. In addition, in this assembly there was a lot of misogyny on the part of the director. Verticality and machismo in theatre in general remain clear today. Still existe.El doctor told me I had to choose between my mental health and theater. I was really scared, because in my family, we've had a background in part of my mother. Because my grandmother was a kid in a mental hospital. Leaving the theater was a very tough decision, but the only path was that.
I left Bogotá and returned to Switzerland to work at the hostel my sister had just opened. Suesca is a very touristic and well-known town. A lot of people are going to climb, bike and rafting. It is 2,800 meters high and the landscape looks a lot like many corners of the Basque Country.

Being in Suesca I met two Basques who came to climb. Among them they spoke in Basque and that served me. I asked them what language that was and we started talking. Then I started a relationship with one of them, and after a while we got married. After two years in Colombia we decided to come to Pamplona.

How has your relationship with the Basque Country been?
My father studied as a young man at a Jesuit seminary. The Basque priests who were there spoke in Basque between them and practiced ball. The Basque culture was very present and that is why we have always known the Basque. On the other hand, in the history books there was a section on the history of the Kingdom of Navarre, and I learned that with great interest from a young age. Pamplona is twinned with the Colombian city of Pamplona and I have always been curious about it. I started to study a few words with my partner, now a former partner, and in 2008, when we got here, I signed up for the Basque Country.

Some people told me if I wasn't going to get into that early morning, saying that being Colombian would be harder and that I would get tired and frustrated right away. I think they told me without any bad intentions. However, I'm a head and a reviewer, and it was clear that I wanted to study. The first year was very hard and often cried. Learning a language is very difficult. He asks you for work, dedication and love. To learn well, you must also create opportunities to make the most of that language. That's what I've always done. If I have a chance, I say “good morning” or “hello, how about?”

I have had an impact on the learning process and have left it on several occasions and I have picked it up again. I have been lucky, studied Child Education in Pamplona and with the children I have learned a lot. Friendship and love relationships are very important when learning. In bed you also learn the language! I have made a great effort, even economic. Basque learning should be free.

Photo: Dani Blanco / ARGIA CC BY-SA

How do you feel now in Euskal Herria? After fifteen
years this is my people. I'm Colombian, of course, and I'll always be, but now I feel here, because this is where I live. This is also my home. Basque Country has given me a lot in many ways.
I love this land, Euskera and Basque culture. I find the historical courage of this people to keep the language above all the obstacles and punishments, especially here in Navarre, terrible. That's very valuable and it says a lot about the people here. I will always give him a lot of courage.

Euskera is now your working tool
Yes. To me, the Basque country has allowed me to do theater again, and that is one of the most wonderful contributions. Professionally here I have not had the opportunity to work in Spanish. In Basque I had the opportunity to work with Artedrama and the great Ander Lipus and we had a year-and-a-half tour of Euskal Herria. This has allowed me to know many peoples and peoples. That work has been that of my personal works, because for me it starts from a very profound question: what it means to be Basque when you are a foreigner.

"I have made a great effort to learn Basque, even economic. Learning Basque should be free"

Now you're riding Vaca Jasa.
He called me Adriana Salvo tafallarrak from Boga Production. He saw me abroad on earth and called me to participate with him and Iñigo Aranbarri. It's a very interesting job. It talks about gender violence and you see the relationship between two women who want the same man, competition on the one hand and fraternity on the other.
I will always be very grateful to the people who call me to work. Although I am Euskaldun, I am not here and that is very present in my professional activity.

Does that limit you?
In many ways, yes. Now I'm trying to do something in film and television, and my agent of actors told me that my profile will always be that of the prostitute, the wife of a drug trafficker, that of the cleaner or that of the elderly caregiver. I am well aware that on television or in film, where so many stereotypes prevail, my roles will be like this. If you call me to work, you'll play those roles, but today that doesn't matter to me anymore, because I know if I want to get into that game, I have to accept those rules.

Fortunately, the theater is out and looks for other languages, other codes, telling things from another place. Theater is my refuge.

He has just presented his third job, right?
Buddha monologue in the asylum. This work by Franca Rame and Dario For is very well written and it is a real pleasure to work with her.

I've known the text for a long time and felt like I should mount it because I feel very identified with it in some aspects of my life. She talks about mental health, and she excites me deeply. In my life I've had two or three panic attacks, and in them I thought I could lose my head. I've always been a very free woman. I was born in a small, conservative town, and I was always doing theater on the street. My friends have always told me I was crazy and that has marked me. On the other hand, about the woman who makes decisions about her body and decides how to live life, a harsh social judgment takes place: she is considered a Buddha.

"It is very difficult to be an actor from the periphery and I am from the periphery: actor, woman, migrant and indigenous medium"

These issues in this work have a lot to do with me. More since I'm here. Here I am a foreign woman and prostitution is very much related to women coming from outside. It is a very complex and profound issue to which we still do not know how to deal socially.

There are many abuses and mafias, but there are many women who have decided to do so in order to have a dignified life. It is a very sensitive issue and a form of unlegalised exploitation. There are many jobs that exploit people, but as they are within the law, nothing happens. There are many forms of prostitution, but since we live in a genitalized society we only consider sexual prostitution.


Photo: Dani Blanco / ARGIA CC BY-SA

Have you started moving this work?
We present it in public, but now we will fine-tune it with the director Ainara Gurrutxaga in Errenteria, during our stay at the Niessen theater.

We have started to move the assembly, but it is difficult to sell it, even more so as a theater play in Basque made in Navarra. It's very difficult and I don't know why. At the moment, Bilbao is the place with the greatest movement to make movies and television. Money is there today. I
am often told why I live in Navarre, what I do here with the possibility of living in Bilbao or San Sebastian. They say it as if there was a limit, and it gives me pain and anger.

Actor Iñigo Aranbarri, and my colleague in Behi jasa, now lives in Pamplona, and he and the Pamplona actor Oier Zuñiga say that the actors of Navarra have very difficult to participate in great productions. It is very difficult to be an actor in the periphery, and I am from the periphery of the periphery: actor, woman, migrant and an indigenous medium.

It's hard to live in theater, right?
Precariousness is the life of many actors. I had the opportunity to charge every month for a year and a half with Artedrama. That was a gift, but in Euskal Herria there are very few companies that work this way. I admire them very much.

“My agent of actors told me that on television or in film my profile will always be that of the prostitute, the woman of a drug trafficker, the cleaner or the caretaker of the elderly. Less bad than theater is different”

What would you say to people coming from outside?
I think it's important to connect with where you live. You can't stay out of the reality you live in. I think it is essential to live the local culture in which you live and understand what happens in that place, and that is why it has always been very important for me to learn Basque. This has led me to understand the world and to see it with other eyes. It helps me understand this country and its historic struggles. Past and current conflicts. For example, does society want the Basque to be official throughout Navarre? Yes or no and why?

It is very important that people who in one way or another have decided to come to live in the Basque Country become aware of what is happening here. A lot of people say it's hard because they're working all day long, yes, of course, but we have to understand that we come to a context. We cannot ignore the fact that there are also social and cultural demands here, as in our peoples. A minimum is to look around and ask where I am and what happens here. I can understand that many people arrive in a very precarious way. In this sense, I understand that I have been privileged, married to a man here, because I got papers right away. I've never felt fear of going out on the street, because I've been inside the law, but I think, in any situation, social and political consciousness is very important to life.

I am glad that there are more and more people of different origins in model D in Navarra. At times, however, I do not agree with the message being conveyed, and I find it very paternalistic. On the other hand, there is a belief that is spreading a lot and that is very worrying: many people think that the Basque will be lost because many people have come from outside and do not know Euskera. Forgive me and the people here, what? Do the citizens who have been here for centuries and do not know Basque have no responsibility? This is a very racist attitude.

In any case, the first step to save the Basque language is the official language in all territories. That is the only way. It is not a solution for all ills, but it is essential. I am not very close to the institutions, but here in Navarre it would be a breakthrough.

Do you feel differently treated?A kind
of exoticism arises when you're a racialized and Basque woman, and that also makes me tired, because it's a kind of racism. Mild, but racism.

I feel like I'm always seen as a migrant, but migration is a process. Nobody is a migrant forever. That is false. I migrated, but I've been here for fifteen years. Call as you want but not as a migrant because the migrant is a moving person.

I am very grateful because people acknowledge the merit of learning Basque, but I feel that it is natural for me, because speaking in Basque in Basque Country is natural.


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