ATRESBANDES: asking questions about the individual and the crowd

ATRESBANDES, Experimental Catalan theatre company, is going on tour in the UK from 23 October to 11 November with their new show ALL IN, a sharp, surreal and humorous exploration of the millennial condition and the tyranny of the crowd!

ATRESBANDES is a company from Barcelona with an international reach, whose work centres on a collective creative process, inspired by a diverse range of disciplines. Formed by Mònica Almirall Batet, Miquel Segovia Garrell and Albert Pérez Hidalgo in 2008, the company aims to question everything its members encounter, believing that doubt and uncertainty are as important as mutual understanding. In part an experiment in form, the role of the outsider is taken by performer Melcior Casals Castella and marks the first time that ATRESBANDES have created work with someone from outside the company.

The company have won numerous awards including First Prize and Audience Prize at BE Festival 2012 for Solfatara, and Best Direction at Skena Up 2014 in Kosovo for Locus Amoenus, which was cited by Lyn Gardner of The Guardian as a top pick for the 2017 Fringe. 

We will be attending the show at London's New Diorama Theatre in November, and we were lucky enough to sit down with one of the directors, Mònica Almirall Batet, to talk about the show.

Disclaimer: Tell us about how this show came to be...

Mònica: This is our fifth show a company. It was born thanks to a commission by HOME in Manchester – they liked our previous work and gave us a lot of freedom. We created something new, and made a show without a narrative line or a specific theme. We started with improvisations around the subject of English courses and self-help manuals for example. This show is not linear, but is made up of different scenes that may not be related.

Tell us more about your company, ATRESBANDES

Mònica: Nine years ago, the three of us (the group also consists of Miquel Segovia Garrell and Albert Pérez Hidalgo) met in drama school, and it's been a very organic evolution since then. We have a similar way of understanding theatre: we like to work without a text, begin from an idea, song, painting or picture, and devise around that.

Have you performed this show before?

We've been working on this show for the past year. There have been many opinions – people either love it or are unsure. The show definitely makes you ask questions, and you may like some scenes and not others.

I've read that you have a scene about the obsession about "Being Yourself".

Yes, our first scene is about self-help and coaching training. We encourage everyone to be individual, return to their essence, but when you think about it, we all shop at the same places and wear the same clothes. We wanted to devise around this idea of the individual within the masses. What we are going through in Europe and Catalunya is also influencing the show: what is your position if you don't agree with the masses or don't want to demonstrate?

How would you compare putting on a show here and back home?

Arts funding in the UK is great, things work here. You get paid, and can pay your team before the show. In Spain, I'm afraid it's messy, with late payments for example that can arrive one year after the show.

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