‘In order to be out of control these days we go to a nightclub. I wish parents would forbid their children to go to the theatre.’ Fascinated by Guy Debord’s Situationist International from the fifties and sixties and admirer of Chekhov’s stories, Roger Bernat perceives theatre as an instrument capable of putting our way of thinking, our customs and our society on the line, with an avalanche of ideas and situations. Always from the most Dionysian theatrical viewpoint, his shows situate the creator, the actor and the audience in a crisis, stripping off the masks of some and others in an atmosphere of doubt and questions with no answers. This is the theatre that interests Roger Bernat, a theatre that forces us to voluntarily face up to uncomfortable debates and that aims to reveal everything that is unexpected, things we don’t notice, that we know exist but don’t see or simply don’t wish to see. His is a theatre that from the very beginning aims to talk shamelessly about social reality, without imposing limits or following any particular path.
Roger Bernat began training as an architect and it wasn’t until he was 25 that he discovered theatre. He studied playwriting and directing at the Institut del Teatre in Barcelona where he graduated obtaining the Outstanding Award (1996). However he maintains that since then he has been trying to forget everything he learnt. In 1997, fresh out of the mill, he created and directed, along with Tomàs Aragay, the company General Elèctrica, a ‘stage agitation collective’, that produced about ten shows (10.000 Kg, Special Critics Award 1997, Confort Domèstic, Critics Award for Dramatic Text 1998, and Trilogia 70, amongst others) and that ended up taking to the stages of Spain’s most prestigious theatres with the help of the director Xavier Albertí. General Elèctrica came to an end in 2001 due to lack of institutional support. Since then, Bernat has never been able to free himself of the label of the enfant terrible of Catalonian theatre and his followers have learnt over the years that once they have their ticket stamped in their hands, they must forget about classical theatre, comedy, musicals and any other contemporary artistic convention. ‘That’s why you have to run,’ Bernat says, ‘because everything that starts off as a rebellion becomes compulsive.’
After the success of Que algú em tapi la boca (2001), the third title of Trilogia 70, he created Bona gent (2003), a cycle of six low budget shows with the collaboration of Juan Navarro, and Bones intencions (2003). Immediately afterwards he directed Amnèsia de fuga (2004), LA LA LA LA (2004), Tot és perfecte (2005) and Das Paradies Experiment (2007), amongst others, in a constant search for new ways and registers for confronting art with reality.
His most recent proposal was Domini Públic (2008) in which the spectators, wandering around the Margarita Xirgu Square, Barcelona, get instructions through some headphones and turn into the actors. The idea is that by seeing each other from a new perspective and by confessing personal secrets, the spectators are the ones that create the scenes and make the show, interpreting the role of themselves. That’s the same thing we do every day in reality but in a fictitious space and in a public domain. Following a similar line, but as always different, in Roger Bernat’s next show, Rimuski, the actors travel through the city in a taxi and the audience follow everything that happens on a screen live from the theatre. This all makes us think that, once again, Roger Bernat will provide us with a different way of making theatre and a new demonstration of his agility when it comes to dodging the flaws of present day art. All things considered, Roger Bernat asks the same old questions under a different light: who are we, where are we and how do we live.