Demonstrating the relevance of Cervantes through contemporary culture
Four hundred years after his death, Fandom set out to demonstrate the relevance of the figure and work of Miguel de Cervantes through a major event in which contemporary cultural disciplines were linked to the great genius of the Spanish literature. For example, through the Virtual Reality with TVE and El Ministerio del Tiempo, with prison rock and roll, the first level hip hop or a calligraphy projection on the facade of the chapel where Cervantes was baptized. In the event, a team of more than 80 people participated and gathered more than 5,000 participants.
Four hundred years after Miguel de Cervantes’ death, Fandom, in collaboration with the City Council of Alcalá de Henares, the writer’s hometown, set up to make a demonstration of how Cervantes’ life and work continue to have a lot to do with lives and contemporary works. Within the official program “Celebra Cervantes”, the proposal of Fandom “Cervantes 17.21” provided a narrative that gave consistency to all the events of April 23 in Alcalá de Henares. Each and every one of the events enabled by Fandom had a specific graphic support in which the performances were linked to Cervantes. This way, through all the shows, the spectators, and participants, or simply passers-by, could know and approach the figure of this writer from Alcalá de Henares.
Virtual Reality with El Ministerio del Tiempo
With the collaboration of Future Lighthouse (pioneers worldwide in the creation of virtual reality narratives) and RTVE, one of the main claims of Cervantes 17.21 was the presentation to the public of the VR Experience of El Ministerio del Tiempo, one of the most acclaimed Spanish fiction series in history.
The place chosen to display “The altarpiece of wonders” (name of the activity that made reference to Cervantes’ appetizer) was the Patio de Santo Tomás de Villanueva, a Renaissance cloister where the University of Alcalá is currently located. Among the columns of the courtyard of the sixteenth century were distributed VR devices with the collaboration of Xperiencia Virtual, in which you could enjoy the episode “Time in your hands” of The Ministry of Time, conducted by Future Lighthouse.
In addition to the virtual reality experience itself, attendees could also take a tour of an exhibition composed by a set of panels in which the story of the story was told. Over the centuries, human beings have always told stories. However, the way and means by which these narratives have been translated have changed considerably. The long waiting lines to enjoy the VR experience demonstrated the interest of the public in interacting with these new narrative technologies and, of course, the attraction of cult series such as El Ministerio del Tiempo.
If something Fandom searched for in the celebration of the 400 years of the death of Cervantes was to flee from conventionalisms and recurring actions in all this type of ephemeris. In that line the virtual reality experience was framed and it was completed, for example, with a performance designed for the little ones in which Science World joined in a street show the science and modern chemistry with the magic and the dark secrets of the alchemy.
Maybe even less conventional was the demonstration of a master barber: Pedro Merino. To pay tribute to one of the main characters of Don Quijote, in the Plaza Cervantes, a barbershop space was set up, with traditional instruments. We were looking to show the arts of a trade that not only lasts after the passage of centuries but also recently has seen even revitalized.
Words on the street
As Cervantes already demonstrated, the so-called “high culture” should not be at odds with popular culture. In Fandom we believe that the public management of culture should influence instruction and dissemination of all kinds of creations to any cultural sector. That way the public would not be constrained to the experiences they know but can move between genres and formats to which they are not used to and but still can provide them with an enormous aesthetic and narrative satisfaction.
As the final touch of the event, when the night provided perfect illumination, Fandom chose the most typical Cervantes’s reference in Alcalá, the Capilla del Oidor, the place where Cervantes was baptized, to project on his facade the handwriting of the calligrapher and designer Julián Martínez. In a projected canvas of more than 20 square meters, Martinez deployed with a firm hand some of the most famous phrases of Miguel de Cervantes in an activity that also served as the culmination of a calligraphy course organized by ByAdrenaline that had had the great Spanish masters of this discipline.
In the same logic, novel stagings and genre mixes were included in the programming of Cervantes 17.21. For example, in the action called “Cervantes en Asonante” the hip hop music of Frank T, one of the most important rappers of Spanish music, was combined with the poetry of Elena Medel, Lowe Young Creation Award and whose poems have been translated to a dozen languages. The most “orthodox” poetry shared space with the urban expression. It did on the Day of the Book and highlighting a discipline not much recognized in Cervantes, his facet as a poet.
One of the elements of dynamisation that Fandom proposed for the celebrations of the Day of the Book was “Quijotes around the World”, a poetic-theatrical action in which 10 actors, dressed as country people, walked the streets of the center of Alcalá de Henares reciting poems and literary fragments of authors of all genres and times of the universal literature. In this way, anyone who was sitting on a terrace or walking could be surprised with the declamation of a poem by Góngora, with a team of Gódmez de la Serna or with the beginning of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.
Music in all the corners
In addition to the already mentioned Frank T’s concert, within the celebrations of Celebra Cervantes organized by Fandom, in Cervantes 17.21 a musical program was prepared with which to recall some of the biographical aspects of Cervantes. For example, his relationship with the Jews and even the theories that defend Cervantes could be a convert. That was the theme of “Cervantes and the Jews” with a concert of Klezmer music. With busking style, from the play La Gitanilla, a show was put on stage that combined the jazz manouche with the dance of a swing group. And to commemorate an author who was arrested and held multiple times, what better than the rock and roll of one of the best “American music” bands in Spain: the Widow Makers
Cervantes 17.21, within the celebrations of Celebra Cervantes organized to commemorate the day of the death of Cervantes in its IV Centenary, was the demonstration that in this type of ephemeris cultural programming work with a narrative line that contribute to unite the party with the disclosure (generating at the same time an outstanding affluence of public). Fandom coordinated a team of more than 80 people, including artists, creators, producers, technicians and assistants, distributed in 10 different events and attended by more than 5,000 spectators; a figure well above the forecasts and budgets of the organizers.