Storytelling at La Villa

On September 21st, Requena held the tenth edition of La Noche en Blanco, a cultural smorgasbord event in which several emblematic buildings stay open late into the evening and street performances spill into the streets of La Villa. As you may have noticed if you’ve read my previous posts, old town La Villa is a recurring theme when there is an event in Requena. I think this is great because, with its old buildings and narrow streets, La Villa really is a special place.

Art exhibitions, guided theater tours, wine tastings, and parades, were just a few of the activities you could enjoy from about 10:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Next year, I think the whole celebratory night deserves an article, but today, I just want to zoom in on one activity of the evening where I had an active role.

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Some time before La noche en Blanco, my friend Raúl called me and told me about a new project with a bunch of friends. He and I have a long history of playing music together – we met in a band where he was the singer, and now occasionally collaborate. In addition to singing, he engages with several amateur theatre groups. So he wanted to do a storytelling performance with several people: there would be short stories of about three minutes, and musical accompaniment by myself and three musicians we know from our last band.

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My musician friends and I agreed to the proposition and we got to work. A couple of rehearsals would be enough since this kind of performances would include a degree of improvisation for both for the storytellers and the musicians.

Even though the summer was ending and the fall would soon set in, the night of the event was warm. There were several activities to attend and our show didn’t start until midnight, so we headed to the square to watch some jazz.

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Our show, “Cuentos, relatos e historias que hacen dormir a niños y despertar a mayores,” translates to something like “Tales and stories to put children to sleep and wake up the adults.” As you can imagine by the title and by the time of the performance, the stories were bound to contain a little adult content.

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Nobody told the kids about the content of the stories?

There were 8 people to set the scene, 4 storytellers and 4 musicians, with the audience surrounding us, as there was no real stage. The show took place right there on the stones of La Villa. There were stories about the doorman of a brothel who didn’t know how to write, about two lovers who began to discover each others’ bodies, and stories about words, love, or monks. One story was by Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano. My friends and I tried to complement the stories without detracting from the words: the real protagonists of the show. We played songs like “Autumn Leaves,” “Caravan,” and “Blackbird” by the Beatles, and pieces like the beautiful “La Maza” by Silvio Rodriguez. We couldn’t forget Django Reinhardt so we played a few pieces from his repertoire, including “Minor Swing,” “Tears,” and “Les Yeux Noirs”.

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My chaotic set list

I think that my friend Raúl and his mates had a great idea and that it was a hit with the audience. The stories were entertaining, and many of them left you thinking about them after they had ended. In my opinion, both La Noche en Blanco and this storytelling event within it, were a terrific way to say goodbye to summer for the year.

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