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Meet Gilberto Corrales of Teatro en el Incendio in Tijuana

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gilberto Corrales.

Gilberto, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I started my theatrical artistic career and training in a school workshop in high school, which had many years of experience and in which I joined as an actor. When I finished my high school studies, the workshop became a company and it started making presentations and seasons in a coffee shop. I continued to work with them for two more years and then, I applied to study a bachelor’s degree in theater at the Autonomous University of Baja California, and that’s where I did my career.

In the second semester, I had already written and directed two plays and I began to participate in local, state and regional meetings and festivals theatres within a collective that was formed with the colleagues of my generation. A year after graduating from my career, I met with my fellows from the arts faculty to confirm what my life project would be, the company Teatro en el Incendio (Theater in the Fire); a company with which we seek to do research in art in order to make an art that will be relevant to the current social dynamics, an art that is also questioned thematically, that philosophizes on stage, and that would lead to a transformation through the change of individual consciences.

This work began to gain recognition. In 2014, we went to represent Baja California in the Muestra Nacional de Teatro, then in 2015, we went once again with another play, in 2017 with another and in 2018 with another. We also participated in an international festival in Colombia and in other national festivals of an international nature. We developed several projects that received grants and support from institutions and scholarship and funding programs for art projects such as the national school theater program, The Baja California Creation and Artistic Development Encouragement Program in several categories: individual artistic development and as an artistic group. And recently, we received one of the most important supports that exist in Mexico, which is the support provided by the program to support professional artistic groups of the performing arts: México en Escena. And so, I got to where I am now.

Recently, we started working on our own pedagogical projects and our laboratories that are for research in art; movement expression laboratory (LEMOV) and the experimental laboratory of acting techniques and stage language (LETALE).

Has it been a smooth road?
It hasn’t been easy. First, the biggest impact and challenge I discovered during my student years, was when I noticed I studied a career that didn´t have a working market. Since then, I started to question myself about the relevance that theater and arts have nowadays, and I discovered that this was the same question everyone has as society and artists. So, I decided that instead of taking a pessimistic position about this, what I needed was to be optimistic and to also take a chance on research about how theater and arts, in general, can relate to other areas of knowledge such as marketing and philosophy so that we could get a place for theater in our specific context. That was our first big challenge and it took us time to develop our own artistic language which we could not only relate to, but we could also check its strength and effectiveness for our artistic goals.

Second, once we had this artistic language built, articulated and in the process of growth, we faced the challenge of making our artistic product known in an aesthetic context that did not have a built market, quite the opposite. It seemed that our context had a negative opinion of the aesthetic context in which we inserted that it is the theater, so the label of being theater made it harder to position our work and let people know that they could live another kind of experience by watching our shows. Therefore, we had to do an in-depth research brand positioning work on how to generate and emotional relationship with the brand and practically making the whole company brand from zero. Then, during the process, we realized about all the aspects that are necessary for a mixed cultural enterprise that works with the support of private initiative, of companies, of sponsorships, of public sponsorships, that a company of this nature could subsist it was necessary to understand how to manage, how to produce, how to coordinate, how to manage the financing, how to manage our human and material resources and what kind of advertising to do about our shows.

All these aspects for which reality itself prepares you in the process and that implies a challenge, being patient, willing to learn, ask questions, find different ways of doing things to obtain different results and evaluate development and progress from those decisions we make.

We’d love to hear more about Teatro en el Incendio.
Teatro en el Incendio is characterized by a philosophical theater, that raises questions that stay open, and those questions are asked strategically with a design, designed so that the viewer is interested and gives importance to the subject, and to provoke a position or an opinion. Thrilling the viewer, of moving him, generating a feeling of strangeness, getting the viewer to think and reflect critically on a subject in the end.

We have made use of resources from other artistic disciplines other than theatrical, from other areas of knowledge, such as perceptual psychology, philosophy, sociology, experience marketing, etc. And we’ve also made use of resources in aesthetic forms of mass culture since most of the viewer is overcrowded and related to these forms and these types of training that we can’t compete against with. The reception of the spectator is conditioned among many other factors by their training habits. And this is the research that has done Teatro en el Incendio and that continues to carry out, raising it from different angles with the aim of generating relevance, generate importance to the work we do for the treatment of topics that are relevant socially.

One of the things I’m most proud of about the work we’ve done is that we’ve managed to check the viewer’s reactions in their feedback on the effectiveness of our stage devices against our goals. People end up talking about the subject that appears hidden and revealed to themselves; they end up talking about the experience, everything they felt, they have even come to describe the shows as a roller coaster of emotions; and that, for us is very rewarding, because it gives us the information that we are driving down a certain path.

My specialty as a stage artist is the scenic direction of a creative laboratory. That is, I do not work with prescribed texts, I myself perform the dramaturgy and conceptualization of the scene through laboratory work with the actors, I get the material and I’m doing scenes, actions, performance, compositions, which in the last stage, I articulate strategically for the viewer experience. That has become my specialty but also teaching.

In the years, I have worked as a teacher, transferring knowledge and generating learning experiences for other people, I have applied the same resources and strategies that I think for the viewer, for the students, and I have been forming a teaching methodology where the student is not a recipient of a given knowledge, but the student is driven to ask questions and find his own answers in a constructive way.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
I definitely believe that San Diego is a great place for the artistic community that gives them many opportunities of growth and development for their art, and even though I don’t know how the theatrical scope unfolds in this city, I would love to be able to bring and present it in the local spaces for the San Diego audience.

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Image Credit:
Ricardo Rosas, Carla Alcántara

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