Performing Political Corruption with Verbatim Theatre in Jordi Casanovas’ Ruz/Bárcenas

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In this presentation, I analyze how Ruz/Bárcenas, a play (and subsequently a film) by Jordi Casanovas, complicates and critically interrogates the relationships between theatre, politics, and spectatorship in Spain. The verbatim style of theatre that Casanovas employs dramatizes the 15 July 2013 deposition given by the Popular Party ex-treasurer Luis Bárcenas to judge Pablo Ruz concerning illegal party financing and corruption. The play’s text is taken directly from the legal proceedings, and by doing this, Casanovas reframes the deposition and presents it to the theatre-going audience as a consideration of how Spanish politics operates as a result of the historical period of “La Transición.” The playwright presents the viewer with a legal testimony, available as a matter of public record, but by repositioning it in the theatre, transforms it into a critical artistic intervention. The content reveals some of the inner workings of a governing political party, and by doing so, critiques the party, but the play itself also reflects on today’s spectacular nature of politics by isolating one party official and his interrogation by a legal authority. I argue that this play engages with Spanish history and questions the narratives that the country has told over the past forty years in regards to its democracy. Using the theoretical work of scholars such as Diana Taylor and Jacques Rancière as well as the journalist Guillem Martínez, I situate my analysis within the larger conversations of performance, political critique, and spectatorship.

Track: 

  • Spanish Peninsular Studies