Trojan Memories, a film by Uruguayan multidisciplinary artista Juan Carlos Tajes will have its world premiere at Sa Tanca in Deià on Friday night.
Juan Carlos is a playwright, director and actor who works primarily in the field of masked theatre. He’s also a poet and essayist as well as a former singer.
Although he stopped singing three years ago, Juan Carlos was a singer for forty years and helped start the tango movement in Holland, where he has lived for many years. He has recorded six CDs and the seventh is on its way.
He has also taught disciplines that include tango, interpreting Latin songs, the theatre, and the oratory arts.
One of the great things about Deià is meeting someone with a connection to and love for the village who you’ve never met before. Although Juan Carlos and I have many mutual friends, we’d never met.
‘I first came here 48 years ago,’ Juan Carlos told me. ‘I was with my ex-wife and a group of musicians and actors to rehearse a show. We then began performing at the museum in Deià. After the group left, my ex-wife and I stayed here for three months. I sang, did recitals and so on. From then on, I came back most years. At first it was for recitals and then to write and work on projects.’
For Juan Carlos, spending the summer in Deià is recharging his creative battery. ‘My brain starts to work here,’ he said. ‘The atmosphere here is always very interesting for artists. Also, it’s a place where I’ve made some of the most important connections in my life. For example, I met the great Italian theatre director and writer Mario Ricci who invited me to Rome. That changed my life.’
Why did he think Deià had such an effect on him?
‘It’s the place and the magic of the atmosphere here. It’s very special and my friends here are also very special. Artists will always come here.’
I haven’t seen Trojan Memories but I have seen Juan Carlos’s film Fugitives From Atlantis. I asked him if there was a consistent theme in his work.
‘It’s a combination of different things. Fugitives From Atlantis, made three years ago, is about Atlantis and my belief that we are living through a crucial time in the myth of humanity. For me, the myth of Atlantis is a sign that when a culture perishes you can change cultures in other situations. I believe that when Atlantis sank beneath the sea, the Atlantean people renewed their culture in other parts of the world.’
This resonates with Juan Carlos because, as he said, ‘I was exiled from my country for many, many years and I had to reconstruct my culture after this exile.’
As we were talking, Juan Carlos realised that his period of exile started forty-eight years ago, the year he first came to Deià.
On June 27, 1973, a military dictatorship came to power in Uruguay. This resulted in all former political activity being suppressed including that of political parties. Many were imprisoned and tortured, especially people on the left-wing.
‘I was in a bar in the village and read in a newspaper that the military had taken power in my country, and I couldn’t go back. I’ve never thought about it before but my whole life changed here,’ Juan Carlos said.
The film Trojan Memories is a response to all the wars we’re living through now. Juan Carlos is particularly attached to classical Greek literature and was rereading The Odyssey and Iliad when he remembered that, as a student, he most impressed by the women in these epic poems.
‘I found heroes like Achilles and Ulysses unsympathetic and responded more to the women waiting at home for their men to come home or not,’ Juan Carlos explained. ‘It struck me that, although woman also fight in armies now, nothing has really changed. Women are always waiting to be deported, abused, made slaves, moved from one country to another.’
Trojan Memories began as four monologues. It almost didn’t see the light of day because Juan Carlos called a halt to the project after two dress rehearsals.
This led to one of the dress rehearsal guests, a filmmaker, suggesting that they should record the play because it might never be performed. (It was, on November 13, 2020.)
‘I thought, I don’t want to make a recording of a theatre play,’ Juan Carlos said. ‘I want to make a video with the actress playing with the camera and the space, which is much more interesting. I’d acted in movies but never made one myself. It was a new adventure. We did it but had to wait until July of this year until I hired a professional editor, and we edited the footage. The film was finished the day before I came to Deià.’
According to Juan Carlos, Trojan Memories has similarities with Fugitives From Atlantis in that he uses rope and crochet to make costumes. Webs and nets symbolising the way women are caught in the web of war figure prominently.
‘It’s very primitive and new,’ he said.
If you can’t make it to the showing of Trojan Memories in Deià on Friday 18th September, you can see it in Soller on Friday 24th at Capella De Les Escolapies, Carrer de Batac 25 at 8.30.