He arrived at the theater at the age of 20 and has not moved from there. He is now 80 and has an energy and a restlessness that do not seem to calm down. “For his love of comedy, his vast career as a playwright and his great research work in theater theory”, José Luis Alonso de Santos has been distinguished with the Max de Honor 2022, the main awards of the Spanish performing arts, according to The SGAE, organizer of the awards, has announced. The author of works like Vallecas tobacconist (1981) and get off the moor (1982) says that he still gets up at six in the morning to study and investigate. Now he has taken to biochemistry, but he has always been a one-man band. Perhaps that is why he admits that his model from a young age was Leonardo da Vinci, a Renaissance man. Throughout his career he has done everything. He says that what he has done has been packing suitcases. Graduated in Journalism, he was an actor, stage director, producer, film and television scriptwriter, promoter of independent theater companies, professor, researcher, director of the National Classical Theater Company, writer. The list is overwhelming, but it is perhaps with the craft of author that this man of the theater has always compared his work to that of a farmer in the field.
The Max de Honor is the latest in the long list of awards with which he has been distinguished throughout his career. He will receive it at the award ceremony of the XXV edition of the awards, which will be held on June 6 at the Teatro Principal in Maó (Menorca). “I think that coherence and common sense have presided over my career and perhaps my colleagues have recognized that, as well as my deep love of theater. I have been in this all my life, I have done some things better and others worse, but the truth is that the theater has gratified me”, Alonso de Santos confessed on Tuesday in the beautiful stalls of the Comedy Theater in Madrid .
“In the world of art it is convenient not to be too crazy, although it is logical that it is a place where everyone who feels some imbalance goes, those who feel the martyrdom of life, because the theater has imbalances with the world, doubts, crises , emotions. But all of this is a dimension that may or may not be valid to be a creator, because there is creative madness and destructive madness. The theater has something unbridled, even if you want to cover it with a layer of order”, confesses Alonso de Santos, born into a very humble family in Valladolid, where there was not even a book. He truly believes that his love of theater and literature developed in high school with the teachers. He was a boy who hardly left the house and spent his time reading. “I became a writer because I learned many works by heart and I was not good for sports or football. If you read a lot you end up being a writer” he adds. And there he began his cultivation in the field of art. “I come from a family of farmers and I understand the field well. One day you sow, another day you water, a storm comes and destroys everything. And what you harvest people eat. The theater is the same. I have been planting lettuce, potatoes, tomatoes and I have been giving them to the public. The best thing about the word culture is its cultivation dimension, cultivating things to distribute them. I grow words because I don’t know how to grow potatoes. I am a farmer.”
Although he is behind a hundred productions and more than 50 works, from all kinds of authors and periods, the organizing committee of the Max Performing Arts Awards wanted to highlight Alonso de Santos’ contribution to the comedy genre and his obsession with bringing theater to new audiences. For this playwright, comedy is “a garden for the spirit and a walk of flowers.” “Humor is a way to compensate for human suffering. It’s like medicine for the soul and I feel like an apothecary. I don’t want to just make people laugh, but also clean up the dumpster a bit.”
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Calderón de la Barca is the author to whom Alonso de Santos surrenders. Since he began more than 50 years ago with the autos sacramentales of the playwright of the Golden Age, he has not stopped admiring and loving him. “I have written Vallecas tobacconistbut above all I love Calderón. My main teacher in terms of the way of living and breathing has been Cervantes, but my teacher of language and theater is undoubtedly Calderón. For me, Calderón is like Mozart. Calderón’s poetry is pure music”, explains Alonso de Santos, who criticizes the lack of institutional and political support suffered by the performing arts. “Theatre now supports tremendous economic censorship. You have to participate in the taste decreed by certain organs and if you don’t, you have nothing to do”, he laments.