Angelica Liddell (Figueres, Spain, 1966) is one of the most innovative and exciting figures in Spanish theatre. She is the total theatre artist: playwright, actor, stage and costume designer, director, producer. She puts her whole life on the stage every time, literally cutting her flesh, exposing her naked body or insulting the audience if necessary. Her theatre is excessive, violent, and poetic; full of literary and philosophical references, from Nietzsche to the Bible.
Always uncompromising, Angelica Liddell questions and challenges the basis of contemporary society. Rage and honesty move her as she rebels against social conventions. She has defined herself as a functional sociopath, unable and unwilling to create meaningful relationships outside the stage. She does not believe in families, which she considers instruments of repression, but she believes in teams (and she is a fan of Real Madrid.) She has received the Silver Lion at the Venice Biennale in 2013 and the Dramatic Literature National Award in Spain in 2012. Her theatre is filled with her obsessions: death, sex, perversity, vengeance, bodily fluids, horror, beauty, the human capacity for evil, incest, rape, monstrosity, suicide.
In 2014, Liddell decided never to work again in her native Spain. Like has happened to other artists, she felt that her country had not supported her or acknowledged her work, even after achieving wide success in the international stages. Although the Spanish audience always appreciated her, the programmers and institutions did not, and only abroad she has found the respect she was seeking since she founded her company, Altra Bilis, in 1993.
The Avignon Festival, in particular, has been a space where she has encountered freedom and recognition. In 2010, the Festival invited her to present two shows, La casa de la fuerza (The House of Strength) and El año de Ricardo (The Year of Richard) which were received with great enthusiasm. Since then, Liddell has returned to Avignon in 2011 with Maldito sea el hombre que confía en el hombre (Cursed be the Man Who Trusts in Men) and in 2013 with Ping Pang Qiu and Todo el cielo Sobre la Tierra (El síndrome de Wendy) (All the Sky Above the Earth (Wendy’s Syndrome)). This year, for the 70th edition of the Festival, Liddell was the only Spanish representative, with her ¿Qué haré yo con esta espada? (What Will I Do with this Sword?), the second part of the Trilogy of the Infinite II.
Performed in Spanish, Japanese and French, ¿Qué haré yo con esta espada? is a meditation on the nature of violence that explores two atrocious stories of cannibalism and terrorism that took place in Paris decades apart. Liddell once more shows her capacity to connect unrelated ideas and translate them into her brutal language of pain and poetry. One of the real life events that inspire the show is the act of cannibalism committed in 1981 by Issei Sagawa, a Japanese student in La Sorbonne who killed and ate a Dutch female classmate. The other one took place last fall, the terrorist attacks in Paris on November 13, 2015, in which 137 people were killed. Angelica Liddell was performing in Paris on the night of the attacks.
As usual, Liddell authors the text, acts, directs, and creates the scenography and the costumes. Therefore, the play, which lasts nearly 5 hours, includes many of the signature features of her provocative style, such as nudity, masturbation, and violence. Liddell wanders through the darkest zones of the human mind with her radical and unique point of view; combining mesmerizing images on stage with different monologues that reflect on the relationship between beauty and evil. She uses texts of Cioran, Mishima, Nietzsche and Hölderling to guide an unforgettable voyage from Tokyo to Paris and back.
¿Qué haré yo con esta espada? will be in the Miradas Festival in Santos on September 12 and 13, as well as in Sao Paulo on September 17 and 18.
Read more about this show in the Avignon Festival website.
Cast: Victoria Aime, Louise Arcangioli, Alain Bressand, Paola Cabello Schoenmakers, Sarah Cabello Schoenmakers, Lola Cordón, Marie Delgado Trujillo, Greta García, Masanori Kikuzawa, Angélica Liddell, Gumersindo Puche, Estíbaliz Racionero Balsera, Ichiro Sugae, Kazan Tachimoto, Irie Taira, Lucía Yenes.
Text, direction, stage, costumes: Angélica Liddell.
Production: Ianquinandi, S.L. Co-production: Festival d’Avignon.
With the support of Community of Madrid and the Japan Foundation, Festival/Tokyo.
This post was written by the author in their personal capacity.The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect the view of The Theatre Times, their staff or collaborators.