El can­tar del playo or… a song is a rose is a thorn



  • 03.01 > 16.01.2022

El can­tar del playo or… a song is a rose is a thorn is Mario Barrantes Espinoza’s third mul­ti­me­dia per­for­man­ce. With it, he revi­sits the sound and text worlds of the gay night sce­ne in Costa Rica in ear­ly 2010 – a time in which he began to explo­re his sexu­al iden­ti­ty, also the year in which the music gen­re later known as plan­cha popularized.

Plancha is a musi­cal gen­re that con­tains a wide vari­e­ty of sty­les, artists and songs that have lyrics about love and heart­break in com­mon, often con­si­de­red too melo­dra­ma­tic or sim­ply out­da­ted by the con­tem­po­ra­ry ear.

Before being known in this way, plan­cha was prac­ti­cally the dai­ly music that flood­ed Latin American radio and tele­vi­si­on sta­ti­ons from the late 1960s to the ear­ly 1990s, clo­se­ly lin­ked to the very pre­sent telenovela’-culture and to the gol­den era of song­wri­ting in Latin America. It was also the raw mate­ri­al for the art of the trans­for­mis­tas (drag queens) in gay bars and were dear­ly tre­a­su­red in the juke­boxes of the various old can­ti­n­as (bars). The songs were full of the­a­tri­ca­li­ty, often cele­bra­ting the fan­ta­sy and suf­fe­ring of roman­tic love. Over the years, plan­cha music con­ti­nued to be pre­sent in the sonorous lands­ca­pes of the regi­on but overs­ha­do­wed by other boo­m­ing gen­res, like pop, elec­tro, and reggaeton.

El can­tar del playo or… a song is a rose is a thorn is one pos­si­ble way of explo­ring the­se ide­as. It can be ima­gi­ned as a song­book, con­tai­ning a col­lec­ti­on of sce­nes, plan­cha lyrics and music, as sen­so­ri­al snap­shots drawn from Mario’s expe­rien­ces in Costa Rica in the ear­ly 2010s. At that time, plan­cha was revi­ving in the heart of the capital’s night life, and this coin­ci­ded with the per­so­nal explo­ra­ti­ons of his sexu­al iden­ti­ty. Only a deca­de later, on May 26th 2020, the lega­li­za­ti­on of same-sex mar­ria­ge had an impor­tant impact on the socio-poli­ti­cal lands­ca­pe of the coun­try. Through melo­dra­ma and poe­tic sto­ry­tel­ling, he’ll be rein­car­na­ting the­se times.

Artistic direc­ti­on and per­for­man­ce: Mario Barrantes Espinoza Artistic assis­tan­ce: Theo Livesey Text edi­ti­on: Theo Livesey, Mario Barrantes Espinoza Artistic accom­pa­ni­ment: Manu, Martín Zícari Sound design and music arran­ge­ment: Pablo Lilienfeld Lighting and tech­ni­cal direc­ti­on: Ryoya Fudetani Costu­mes and set: Flavio Juan Núñez, Laurent Tijou Video pro­jec­ti­ons: Federico Vladimir Strate Pezdirc Vocal advi­ce and coa­ching: Ignacio Jarquín Produc­ti­on: Hiros Copro­duc­ti­on: Het TheaterFestival, Kunstencentrum Voo?uit, C‑takt, KAAP In col­la­bo­ra­ti­on with: Kunstencentrum Buda (Kortrijk), workspa­ce­brus­sels, DE SINGEL, KVS, Kunstenwerkplaats, wpZimmer With the sup­port of: de Vlaamse Overheid