Theatre Play
  • The theatre play “Winnipeg” will be performed at the Sant Andreu Teatre in Barcelona on February 16 throughout a collaboration with the European Observatory on Memories;
  • The play recalls the story of the boat Winnipeg that was chartered by the poet Pablo Neruda with the support of Chile’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abraham Ortega, to take 2,000 exiled Spanish republicans to Chile in September 1939;
  • Based on the graphic novel by Laura Martel, the production by Puça Espectacles and La Jarra Azul was presented in the framework of the Grec Festival in Barcelona.
Cover picture: Cristina Raso

From 1934 to 1937, the poet Pablo Neruda was Chile’s consul in Barcelona. Those were the most decisive days of the Second Spanish Republic and the start of the Civil War, and three years after arriving in the city, he was forced to return to Santiago by the advance of Franco’s troops. From there he followed the news of Barcelona’s occupation by the fascist army and the arrival of a large number of exiles in France, where they were condemned to live in deplorable conditions in refugee camps. Using his good connections with Chile’s president, Neruda managed to get himself appointed as a special consul for Spanish immigration in France. In that position, and with the support of Abraham Ortega, Chile’s foreign affairs minister of the time, he got involved with an initiative to charter a French ship, the Winnipeg, to transport more than 2,000 exiles to Valparaíso, where the Chilean government had granted them asylum. They reached port in September 1939, and most of them settled in the north of the country. Some returned to Spain years later but most settled permanently in Chile. Somebody nicknamed them “Neruda’s children” and the poet came to consider that episode in his life to be as valuable as the poems he had written.

Eighty years later (in 2019), this story of darkness, horror, and cruelty, but also hope and solidarity, is an episode almost totally ignored in the history of the Civil War. Luckily, though, Laura Martel gave an account of these events in a graphic novel featuring a young girl and published in 2014 with drawings by Antonia Santolaya. Now, Martel, a playwright and screenplay writer, has turned the episode into a theatre production directed by Norbert Martínez, a director and actor with the Les Llibertàries company that has often worked with another director, Julio Manrique, and who himself has directed a good number of plays, including ¿La vida es sueño? or #gwenismürfila, seen at the Grec in 2018.

A 2020 Barcelona Grec Festival co-production with La Jarra Azul and Puça Espectacles. With the collaboration of the European Observatory of Memories – University of Barcelona Solidarity Foundation, Vallromanes Town Council, the Baró de Viver Civic Centre, and La Ballesta.

Laia Alberch
Laura María González
Martí Salvat
Edu Tudela

Artistic details

Play script: Laura Martel
Director: Norbert Martínez
Sound design: Nacho López
Stage design: Anna Tantull
Costume design: Maria del Mar Grañena Serradell
Lighting: Yuri Plana
Audiovisual design: Clara Guixé i Viedma, Núria Planes Llull, Jordi Soler Quintana
Conceptual art: Òscar Climent
Production director: Ôscar García Recuenco
Production assistant: Marina Guarch
Technical Assistant: Jofre Toledano
Assistant director: Diana Díaz i Eduard García Oñate
Photography: Cristina Raso
Video: Arnau Macià
Graphic design: Mancha


Feb 16, 2022


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