Tribute to Francisco Leal International Festival of Classical Theatre of Almagro
The Asociación de Autores de Iluminación was present at the tribute to the scenographer and lighting designer Paco Leal, member of the AAI since 2015, during the last edition of the International Festival of Classical Theatre of Almagro.
In a ceremony held this Monday 20th July at the Palacio de los Oviedo, our partner Pedro Yagüe, representing the technical teams that have passed through the Almagro Festival in recent years, offered a few words of recognition to the honoree who has been a technical director for more than 25 years.
The event was presided over by Fernando Cerón, Deputy Director General of Theatre of the National Institute of Performing Arts and Music (INAEM), Ana Vanesa Muñoz, Deputy Minister of Culture of the Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha, Ignacio García, current Director of the Almagro Festival and also the previous directors Luciano García Lorenzo and Natalia Menéndez.
Toño Camacho, Mario Goldstein, Óscar Sanz, Maika Chamorro, Pedro Yagüe, Vicente Briñas, Javi Almela and Elisa Sanz, among others, presented the festival insignia to Paco Leal.
About Paco Leal
With a professional career dedicated to theatre, Francisco Leal (Murcia, 1957) began in the 1980s as technical coordinator of the Teatro del Matadero de Murcia (1979-1980) and of the Murcian company Julián Romea de Murcia (1980-1983).
It was between 1983-1989 when he began his period as technical director of the Teatro Bellas Artes in Madrid, where he worked on shows such as Casandra by Galdós, La Muerte de un viajante by Arthur Miller, or Bajarse al moro by José Luis Alonso de Santos.
In the 88-89 season he took over the technical direction of the Teatro Nuevo Apolo in Madrid, continuing his collaboration with the Teatro Bellas Artes and touring Europe and America. In 1989 and until 1994 he took over the technical direction of the Centro Dramático Nacional (CDN), based at the Teatro María Guerrero in Madrid, with which he performed more than sixty shows and toured all over Spain. During this period he collaborated with renowned directors such as José Carlos Plaza, Josefina Molina, Bob Wilson, Miguel Narros, Gutiérrez Aragón, William Layton and José Luis Gómez, among others.
Since 1995 and until today he is the technical director of the International Festival of Classical Theatre of Almagro, a dedication that he has combined with the direction of other events such as the Festival of Theatre and Medieval Music of Elx (2000-2006) or the Teatro Circo de Murcia (2011- 2020).
Any praise we can give Paco Leal is an understatement. He receives this tribute in recognition of his 25 years of work at the helm of the Festival’s technical teams, a Manchegan miracle, an impossible dream. That in a town of less than 10,000 inhabitants there is the best Golden Age Festival in the world and that today it takes place on 14 different stages, is possible thanks to an impressive technical work, which goes through the adequacy of the spaces, the conservation of the buildings, having a technical machinery and, above all, a human staff so toned and greased.
All the companies always leave Almagro grateful for the experience, which is tremendously welcoming on the part of the town and the team, but also grateful that from the technical point of view there is an excellence that can be found almost nowhere else in the world. The level of efficiency, speed, response and delivery is a tireless work done by a huge technical team whose head for a quarter of a century is Paco; Paco is Almagro, is a fundamental part of the history of the Festival and we believe he deserves this and all our recognition.
FITCA 2020 TRIBUTE to FRANCISCO LEAL
Text by Pedro Yagüe.
Good afternoon to all and to all.
And congratulations Paco.
It was my turn to be up here today, but I don’t think I’m wrong if I say that my words could be said by any of you in the stalls, or here, on stage, who have worked with Paco.
Many years have passed, but even today, I still have the image of that room in the Colegio Mayor Azarbe. It was in the afternoon, in Murcia, in the 90’s, at that time home of the University Theatre. You, César Oliva, Javier Almela and myself. César introduced us and as they say now: that’s where it all began. Mixed, messy colour filters, badly positioned spotlights, hoses on the floor, etc. And you immediately noticed it, and you told us. On that occasion, we got him… The second time.
We were students of Hispanic Philology and although we knew nothing about it, this new world that was opening up before our eyes would become our professional and personal future.
From that moment on you marked uss the first guidelines that we had to follow in our work: order, cleanliness, rigor, professionalism and responsibility. But above all, respect for others.
And we got to know you. Kind, good-natured, strict, responsible, perhaps a little manic, imaginative, creative… And hard-working, a tireless worker. And so you became for me, as I imagine for many other colleagues and friends, a second father, that person who is there when you have to be, in good times and bad. And you created, as I say, a family, a team that, to a large extent, remains to this day.
You welcomed me in Madrid and Murcia, and I remember many times how, sitting in your studio, I began to feel the bug for the world of theatre, and for light in particular. Seeing your plans, your sketches, your drawings, the models, your immense documentation, you created a world in which I wanted to participate.
Then came Almagro, the Festival, our home, our second town. Those first years, 25 years ago, we started with you. At that time we were few: Toño, Mario, Avelino, Óscar, Javi, Juanjo, Raúl, Ramón, Marcelo, the Sevillanos… A family that you formed and expanded over the years: Briñas, Elisa, Maika, Chini, Pipo, Braulio, Jacinto, Alegría, Jon, Juan, Joselito, Jesús, Felipe, Huberto, Marina, Fran, Edu, Sergio and many more… who I would not have time to name, but who know and we know who they are. A great team.
We arrived by train from Murcia, full of worries and not knowing what we would find. A regional train that looked like something out of a 1960s movie, and that journey became a journey with no turning back, which continues to this day.
I remember the first night in the Plaza Mayor, when you showed Javi and me the Corral de Comedias. It was illuminated and looked like one of the many models you make. And you opened the door to another reality that expanded and invaded the whole town. Thus, in those early years, I was able to see the greats: Adolfo Marsillach, Miguel Narros, José Carlos Plaza, José Luis Gómez, Manuel Canseco, Declan Donellan, etc. In all the spaces we had underway, Cloister of the Dominicans, Hospital de San Juan, Plaza de Santo Domingo, the Corral itself. Spaces and assemblies illuminated by great masters, like you. And then I began to imagine that, with a lot of hard work, maybe one day I would be able to create illuminations. to transform the spaces, as I had seen you do so many times. A world that, like life itself, would oscillate between light and darkness, and that had to be mine.
You supported me, and thanks to you I now dedicate myself to enlightenment. A not always easy task that is still my passion, and it’s largely thanks to you.
In this Festival we have worked a lot, always as a team, and we continue to do so, but you managed, and still manage, to turn the work into something so personal that it becomes lighter and simpler than it really is. It is our job, this job that many of us love and in which, whatever we do, we put our heart and soul into it, just like the first day we set foot in the village. It always feels like the first time.
We have also worked together, side by side, on numerous projects, zarzuela, opera, theatre,… Assembling your scenographies and working on the lighting designs, in theatres where we have spent hours and hours together. Hours of work, coffees, professional and personal talks, all enriching. I remember many of them, just as I remember when you quit smoking when you were at the Teatro de la Zarzuela staging Los Diamantes de la Corona. Which I was very happy about.
Enthusiasm is the word that came up when I met you and I still have it in my mind today. That’s what I feel when I face any project that I face alone or with you, and also when you call me again so that we can get together in Almagro, with the whole team, and we can live together this great party that has always been and, despite the current circumstances will continue to be, the theatre.
Thanks Paco and congratulations again.
Pedro Yagüe. 20-July-2020