Iolanthe's Quotable Viggo

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Viggo Mortensen: "Sometimes I have thought that I´ve been an idiot to get into this theatrical challenge"

Source: El Cultural.
Found By: Translated by Ollie, Rio and Zoe
Categories: Purgatorio
Many thanks to Ollie, Rio and Zoe for translating the recent interview at El Cultural:


After 24 years away from the stage he opens Purgatorio in Madrid

Rehearsals - October 2011
Rehearsals - October 2011
Image Andrés de Gabriel.
© Teatro Español.

Before the opening of his third film with David Cronenberg, A Dangerous Method, in which Viggo Mortensen plays Freud, the Hollywood star will spend six and a half weeks in Madrid, as a great draw for a theatrical run. The inclusion of the actor in Purgatorio, which opens next Friday at the Naves del Matadero, is a big event since it involves his return to the stage after a 24-year absence. He's doing it in the company of the Barcelonan actress Carme Elías, with a script by Ariel Dorfman that is very topical, since it speaks of victims and oppressors, of pardon and repentance. Mortensen, who can't take a walk through the streets without having people recognize him from his role as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings, or as Diego Alatriste from the film version of the works of Pérez Reverte, is a man with many other cultural concerns. He tells of them in this interview.

How long has it been since you've done theater?

About 24 years, since I did Martin Sherman's Bent in Los Angeles.

And why now, and in Madrid?

The people responsible for the Teatro Español's programming were interested in the proposal and the author, Ariel Dorfman, also liked the idea. I'm a little anxious - a normal thing for any actor, I guess - now that it's almost time to open. I also know that I'm very lucky. It's a great honor to work with Carme Elías and Josep Maria Mestres in Purgatorio, and to do it in Spanish for the first time. And Stage 2 at the Matadero is a very good space, ideal for this play. A fairly austere space, with a set by Clara Notari that's perfectly suited to the hall.

Do you spend periods of time in Madrid now? What do you like and what is strange to you about the way of life in Madrid?

I came to Madrid for the first time at the end of the seventies, so I already have a long history with this city. I have always liked being in Madrid and I like that it's precisely here that I come back to the theatre after so many years.

Do you approach a character for the theatre in the same way you would if you were acting in a film?

Yes, always with a certain fear and preparing myself the best I can, paying a lot of attention. I don't think there's so much difference between good acting in film and good acting in theatre. In general, depending on the size of the hall, it's true that in theatre you have to take into account adequate voice projection, but, ultimately, what matters is whether the spectator believes what the actor is doing or not.

Why did you accept doing this play? What did you like about it?

The challenge of the story interested me: is it possible to forgive and ask for forgiveness without imposing any conditions. Sometimes it's very difficult, but possible. The challenge of doing a play in which there are only two characters who are always on stage, without a break, also attracted me. Sometimes, during rehearsals, I have thought that I've been an idiot to get into this theatrical challenge, but then the doubt, the insecurity go away and I keep enjoying what I´m learning from my colleague Carme Elías, and from our director, Josep María Mestres. Ariel Dorfman´s script is demanding, but it´s full of little gifts that keep coming to you to the extent that you are deciphering the text and physically absorbing it.

The play deals with an obsessive theme in Dorfman´s theatre: revenge and forgiveness. Is there any intention on the author's part?

In all fairness, it would be best to ask him that, but I guess the personal option of choosing between revenge and forgiveness at a given moment does have to do with this play, a lot to do with it. He has talked about this lately in what he has written for the press, and sometimes he has commented on these things to us. He has also said that, with this play, he wanted to deal with the theme of colonization, the consequences to those who conquer and those who are conquered.

This is an absolutely topical subject in Spain, where it´s being discussed whether we can forgive ETA terrorists and allow them to enter the political institutions to govern their victims. What do you think?

There is nothing that cannot be forgiven, there's no one absolutely incapable of giving and asking for unconditional forgiveness. It is difficult, but not impossible. It's the best and most courageous option. True forgiveness is worth it, it clears things up, it cleanses and calms us down. From there on we can advance, grow, in a healthy way.

Actually, the play is an extrapolation of the Medea and Jason myth, isn´t it?

Yes. Generally speaking this play by Dorfman reminds us of the saga of Jason and Medea created by Euripides, the most well-known version of the tragic relationship between these legendary beings. But Purgatorio has elements from other versions of Medea, and also references to other characters and mythological sources.

The play was going to open in December 2009 and with Ariadna Gil. Why was it postponed and why hasn't the initial cast been kept?

It couldn't be done then due to scheduling problems. And Ariadna was not available either when we got back to the play. We were very lucky with Carme Elías, lucky in the sense that she liked the play. She's an extraordinary actress, very powerful. I think she'll be an unforgettable Medea.

Besides acting, you have other artistic interests; for example, you founded a publishing company. What kind of texts does it publish?

I founded the publishing house Perceval Press because I wanted to publish authors and artists that seemed interesting to me, and that, in many cases, don't have much chance of being published, or of seeing their work presented as they would like. I also present my books and recordings with Perceval Press. That tends to compensate us economically and helps us move forward with the projects of other lesser known artists. The real pleasure of being a publisher is to see these artists satisfied, to help them in any way possible so that what is published meets their creative expectations.

What poets do you like?

Recently, I was looking at an old book, a collection of poems by Leonard Cohen called Flowers for Hitler, published in 1964. There was a poem that made me think of Purgatorio. Like always, you can find references, connections everywhere the minute you fine tune the preparation of a project. This is something that I looked at 10 minutes ago and it seemed to me that it had an echo of our story, or vice versa.

Why Experience Is No Teacher
Not mine -- the body you were promised
is buried at the heart
of an unusable machine
no one can stop or start.
You'll lie with it? You might dig deep --
escape a Law or two -- see a dart
of light. You
won't get near the heart.
I tried -- I am the same -- come the same.
I wanted my senses to rave.
The dart was ordinary light.
Will nothing keep you here, my love, my love?
--Leonard Cohen
(from Flowers for Hitler, 1964)

You're also a lover of painting and photography. How would you define your pictorial style?

I don't feel comfortable giving definitions of what I do as an artist, categorizing my work, whether it's as an actor, photographer, painter, or writer. So I'll ask your forgiveness to continue not wanting to do that.

And what do you usually photograph? Which camera do you prefer?

It depends on the time, on where I've been, on what I go looking for. I've photographed landscapes, I've done portraits, I've worked with Eastman and Graflex 8x10 and 4x5 inch cameras that are more than a hundred years old; with a Hasselblad 2¼ x 2¼ that I acquired 30 years ago, a fifteen year old 35mm Leica, and I also started working with a digital 35mm Canon three years ago.

Your international renown as an actor came after The Lord of the Rings. Did you expect the effect the movie would have on your career? What was it like, working with Peter Jackson in that mega production?

Nobody knew that Jackson's trilogy would have the financial and socio-cultural success that it had. In my opinion, anyone who says, now, that they knew that is lying. What we did believe when we were making the three movies was that they could be enjoyed in Japan and other Asian countries that weren't familiar with Tolkien's work. It seemed to me that the world of the elves and their warrior culture, and also their healing culture, had a lot in common with the Samurai heritage and the balanced sensitivity of Buddhism. For me, as an actor, the success of the trilogy was an important gift. It made it possible for Agustín Díaz Yanes to later offer me the part of Diego Alatriste, and for David Cronenberg to choose me for A History of Violence.

And speaking of the Canadian director, David Cronenberg, how does he manage to get the best out of you on the screen?

Cronenberg and I are very good friends after all, we understand and respect each other. I know I will always learn new things and have fun filming with him, and that we will make a film that will be worth presenting. He also has trust in me. Knows that I will arrive prepared and that we will get deep into it to derive all the worth from any story we have to shoot. He is a very special director, unique, one of the greatest there is in the world. He loves what he does, and this shows every day. He thoroughly understands the medium. His enthusiasm is contagious, gives you courage and his experience helps him to transmit his passion. I feel very lucky for having shot three very good and different films with him.

© El Cultural. Images © Teatro Español.

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Iolanthe's Quotable Viggo

Categories: Media Quotable Viggo

This is yet another week where I've tried to present a miscellaneous group of favourite quotes and ended up finding a theme running through them. Miguel Ángel Nepomuceno's comment that Viggo has his 'own light' sums them up. Always the individual, Viggo has never stopped living his life in his own - often quirky - way, and this ability to always be himself applies to his career as much as to his moments alone.

He doesn't need to wield a sword to be recognized. For those who can see beyond that, his personality stands out from the rest with no need of spotlights. He has his own light.

Reunion with Alatriste in Uclés
Diario de León
by Miguel Ángel Nepomuceno - translated by Paddy
26 June 2005

"He's an unusual and very special guy, and I admire him because he will never adjust to other people's ideas of how he should be.'

Elijah Wood
Viggo: "I'm shy with women"
By - translated by Suzy
Vecko-Revyn #3
30 January 2003

...he went to see the game his team played against Tigre in Victoria Stadium. The management had reserved a box for him, but Mortensen preferred sitting in the stands among the fans.

Viggo Mortensen - Lights, Camera... Passion
By Eduardo Bejuk - translated by Ollie, Rio and Zoe
10 May 2011

He... presents me with two large chocolate squares, one wrapped in pink paper that has a handwritten "Venezuela" on it, and another in orange paper that has a handwritten "Indonesia".

I am not sure whether he handwrapped them himself or whether they came from a hand-wrapped chocolate shop. I imagine him travelling the world with a suitcase of wrapped chocolates.

Sympathy for the devil
By Chrissy Iley
The Observer
19 April 2009

"He wanted to eat a real locust," Johnston says. "The locust he eats is made out of sugar. He said, 'You know, I can eat a live one.' I said, 'Let's eat all the fake ones first. If we run out, you can eat a live one.' "

Joe Johnston on filming Hidalgo
A Man of Many Parts
Teresa Wiltz
Washington Post, 2004

'Writing or acting or playing music, I need to feel like I'm connecting with something. And although acting brings me many moments like that I'm probably most relaxed sitting down at a piano. I don't read music and I've never had lessons but it's fun and I find it very relaxing. I'm okay with mistakes and people not liking what I play. I just do it.'

Viggo Mortensen on Good
By Angus Fontaine
Time Out, Sydney
9 April 2009

"People who are creators create," he says. "People say to me all the time, 'Why don't you just focus on one thing?' And I say, 'Why? Why just one thing? Why can't I do more? Who makes up these rules?"

Viggo Mortensen
Finding Viggo
By Alex Kuczynski
Vanity Fair magazine
January 2004

'This is only me and my camera. I sit down and watch the sky, stop, and maybe sing a little or write something down. When I have time to do that, I am as happy as I can be.'

Viggo Mortensen
Capable Of Many Things
By Hanna Björk Valsdóttir - translated by Ragga
30 May 2008
Source: Fréttablaðið

Viggo Mortensen's temporary headquarters during the Toronto Film Festival were bare except for one corner, where there was a sculpture assembled from a plastic grocery-store bag draped over a tripod.....While Mortensen used the restroom, I tried to decide if the bag-on-tripod sculpture was a comment on our throwaway culture or a meditation on the relationship between art and reality. Turns out it was his luggage.

"Want to see my luggage?" Mortensen asked, emerging from his hand-washing and following my gaze to the "sculpture." "Let's see what's in here," he added, removing underwear, several T-shirts - one with fishing records on it, another emblazoned with "Bring Our Troops Home" - and a United Nations flag from the bag. "I travel light."

Renaissance man jousts with career-changing role
By Chris Hewitt,
Twin Cities
28 September 2005

Barefoot and clad in a pair of sweats that have seen better days, Viggo Mortensen walks over to introduce himself. His hands and arms are covered with names and phone numbers he has scribbled on himself after checking his answering machine. And his hair is tousled and flecked with tiny bits of paint. None of this can hide Mortensen's deadly good looks.

Viggo Artist & Actor
By Jae-Ha Kim
Cleveland Plain Dealer
Los Angeles, CA 1 April 1999

PA: If you were a flower, viggo, what kind would you be?

VM: Today, I'd be one of those spiky little red bottlebrush trees.

Interview with Patricia Arquette
Interview magazine, 1995

"Every tree is something special, just like people are. All different, but...
I look at them as I look at people. I get along well with most trees. I don't get into arguments with them, and if I do it's probably my own fault. If I don't watch where I'm going when I'm in the forest, it comes back and smacks me in the nose, and I only have myself to blame."

RUV Interview
Skovbo Exhibition, Iceland
Translated by Mums
30 May 2008

At the end of a day of filming in the desert, the crew would pack up for the two-hour drive back to the hotel. Mortensen, however, would stay behind and sleep in the sand dunes, the rare Hollywood actor who is happiest when alone with a book, his thoughts and the stars in the sky.

Hot Actor - Viggo Mortensen
By G. E.
September 2003
Source: Rolling Stone (U.S.)

As always, you will find all previous Quotables here in our Webpages.

© Viggo-Works/Iolanthe. Images © GOFF INF..

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Viggo Mortensen habla sobre Purgatorio

Source: La Informacion.
Found By: Chrissie
Categories: Purgatorio
Our thanks to Chrissie for bringing us this lengthy Viggo interview from La Informacion.

© La Informacion.

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Mortensen y Elías abren "Purgatorio" español con éxito de público

Source: EFE.
Found By: Dom
Categories: Purgatorio
Thanks to Dom for bringing us this good opening night review of Purgatorio:
Mortensen y Elías abren
Mortensen y Elías abren "Purgatorio" español con....
© EPA.

Madrid, 4 nov (EFE).- Tener a merced a quien más daño te ha hecho en la vida y estarlo de quien más daño has hecho tú alternando el tormento en un ciclo sin fin levanta el "Purgatorio" en el que se han encerrado esta noche, con éxito, Viggo Mortensen y Carmen Elías en el estreno mundial en castellano de la obra de Ariel Dorfman.

Este reto "de mirada oblicua", acometido, "poéticamente", en el Matadero del Español, era complicado por la dificultad del texto, un "infierno florido" a medio camino entre un bolerazo y Sartre, y por los avatares que ha sufrido la obra desde que se anunció que se estrenaba, allá por 2009, y que se fue posponiendo por distintos problemas.

La actriz que en un principio iba a protagonizarla, Ariadna Gil, ha sido testigo privilegiado, sentada entre el autor y el director de cine Agustín Díaz-Yanes, del "tour de force" interpretativo que se han marcado Elías y Mortensen, neoyorquino criado en Buenos Aires, al que en ocasiones le ha fallado "la palabra exacta".

El Aragorn de "El señor de los anillos" y capitán Alatriste ha sabido solventar los olvidos, no se sabe si fruto del bilingüismo o de la propia memoria, con unas tablas que, sobre todo a partir de la segunda escena, hacían increíble que sean ya 23 los años que no pisaba un teatro.

Pero tablas, tablas, las de Elías (Barcelona, 1951) que ha afrontado la dificultad de una obra en la que un hombre y una mujer no paran de malherirse a la vez que pretenden el fin de su suplicio en un terreno que cuando no es resbaladizo es peligroso.

La actriz ha sabido resolver con una potencia conmovedora el que quizá sea el pasaje más difícil de toda la obra, el del recuerdo del asesinato de sus hijos, del que debía salir "como un alma" y no como ejecutora.

Mortensen (1958) y Elías, dirigidos por Josep Mestre, doblan y desdoblan el tiempo, en un escenario sólo ocupado por una mesa, dos sillas, y una tarima-cama, para preguntarse una y otra vez si es posible el perdón y si el amor es capaz de sobrevivir a cualquier tragedia.

Dorfman no ha querido ser heterodoxo en el uso del purgatorio, un lugar de expiación al que sólo van las almas de los que no han incurrido en pecado mortal, y aunque no pone nombre a sus personajes da todas las pistas para saber que son mitológicos y que se trata de Jasón, el del vellocino de oro y suicida, y Medea, la "hechicera" y asesina de sus hijos.

Vestidos con ropa contemporánea que recuerda a las camisas de fuerza y se relevan en el uso de la bata de médico, los actores se han defendido brillantemente en "la institución más antigua que existe", es decir, en palabras de Dorfman, el purgatorio, la "tierra media" en la que los cuerpos son cáscaras en espera de dejar ese envoltorio para reencarnarse.

El autor argentino fantaseaba desde hace tiempo con la idea de un par de personajes en el más allá, enfrentándose e interrogándose sin saber la identidad del otro y que, además, vivieran la tragedia de los conquistados, de los que por satisfacer al otro acaban traicionando a los suyos.

Endiablada y llena de escondrijos y trampas para los actores, que han de repetir en "la piel del otro" texto que acaban de oír pero dándole completamente la vuelta, la obra transcurre como la vida misma, pensando que, en cualquier momento, ese thriller psicológico sobre el perdón se les puede escapar de las manos.

Los espectadores, entre los que estaba el escritor Javier Marías aunque no la actriz que iba a sustituir hace un año a Gil, Emma Suárez, han agradecido el esfuerzo y han obligado con sus aplausos y bravos a salir a saludar en varias ocasiones a los actores, autor, director y equipo técnico.

© EFE 2011. Images © EPA.

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'Purgatorio' Downloads

Source: Teatro Español.
Found By: ollie
Categories: Purgatorio
Many thanks to ollie for finding this downloadable mag (pdf), called La Diabla 3 from the Teatro Español website. The first number is dedicated to Purgatorio, with quite a lot of information.

click here, then click under the poster

LA DIABLA 3, dedicada a 'Purgatorio'. Descargable a partir del viernes 4 de noviembre

Rehearsals - October 2011
Rehearsals - October 2011
Image Andrés de Gabriel.
© Teatro Español.

Con motivo del estreno de Purgatorio, el día 4 de noviembre en Las Naves del Español en Matadero, el Teatro Español vuelve a editar una nueva revista pedagógica dedicada a esta nueva producción propia. Las curiosidades y entresijos de la obra así como los antecedentes, entrevistas y recursos pedagógicos hacen de esta revista una herramienta fundamental para hacer llegar el teatro a todo tipo de comunidades, ya sean educativas, escolares, lúdicas, formativas...

A partir del viernes 4 de noviembre LA DIABLA 3 podrá descargarse libremente en esta página web.

© Teatro Español. Images © Teatro Español. Image Andrés de Gabriel.

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Last edited: 21 October 2018 11:18:58