Paula Jornet


“There will be more diversity on stage tomorrow”

A native of Sant Cugat, actor and musician Paula Jornet is clear about what she wants and an optimist and activist in equal measures

I really believe in the theatre as a tool for social transformation IT’S GOOD TO GO TO THE THEATRE AND TALK ABOUT TOPICS THAT HAVE COME UP

After singing under the name Pavvla (she starred in Creatures, 2016), Paula Jornet has been cultivating her acting side, which she discovered at the Unió Santcugatenca cultural association when she was just five years old, now just over two decades ago. Today she can be seen as the daughter who plays the guitar in La família (im)possible at the Flyhard theatre and as a friend of an unusual group in an abandoned open space (Qui estigui lliure, in the Off of La Villarroel).

What has more weight in your career: music or acting?
My career’s gone through different phases. But I’ve spent more time acting. I had a period of four or five years with a music company (Luup Records) and put the work in because I was getting gigs. Now I’m working more on acting. But I really enjoy both things. I couldn’t choose one.
The director David Selvas always says he’s jealous of the audience’s connection at concerts compared to the theatre. Last year you went back to working on the composition for El màgic d’Oz, La Brutal’s first musical.
I think the energy that’s created on stage and from the audience is very different: they’re different languages, music and theatre. I don’t know if I feel the same envy as Selvas, because the euphoria of music should be weighed against the catharsis of the theatre. Both are different and necessary.
Actress Laura Aubert is always associated on stage with her violin or double bass. She says she likes to use these tools as another part of her interpretive palette, but it bothers her that she may not be valued for her role as an actor. In La família (im)possible, the character is expressed through the electric guitar.
Yeah, I’d also add that I’m never the one who suggests it. For me it’s also just another tool. If at every performance I was asked to “bring the guitar”, I would consider doing my own stuff. In the case of La família (im)possible, Carol López [playwright and director] told me that there was Dolo [Dolo Beltran], who also sings, and that she wanted to approach it in a fresh way to avoid her character being strictly pedagogical. Carol saw that music would help to get the pedagogy across better. But I also understand what Laura is saying. I guess she has worked more than me and she must have been asked to bring the violin more often...
Playing in a concert is not the same as composing the music for El màgic d’Oz. Was it a real challenge?
It’s another type of art, different from the others. It involves spending a lot of time in the studio. I really enjoyed it, too. But I’ll think twice before embarking on a similar project again. I threw myself in at the deep end, but I asked Arnau [Vallvé] to compose with me. We spent more than a year and a half composing and writing. And you have to realise that when you start this project you’ll have it on your mind for a long time. It really wears you out. But now it’s massively rewarding and very exciting. It’s been quite an adventure.
You also worked on El Chinabum, which was written and directed by Paula Ribó. She’s been at the centre of one of the latest Twitter controversies due to her representing Spain at Eurovision as Rigoberta Bandini.
I confess to being a big fan of Rigoberta Bandini. I really admire her as an artist and as a person. I did before this music project. I think I’ll be there until the end with everything Paula Ribó does, because I find everything she creates wonderful. She’s a very good artist and it’s very necessary to have groups and artists like her.
In terms of topics, La família (im)possible is about a transgender family and Qui estigui lliure is about homophobic abuse. These are works that invite the spectator to rethink their awareness, and we are seeing more and more of them nowadays. Why do you think that is?
I really believe in the theatre as a tool for social transformation. It can also be for entertainment, but I believe in it more as a tool for mirroring and seeing oneself or society. Based on that, the two plays – which I didn’t write, by the way – have been very interesting to me from the beginning. Precisely because of this: firstly, for me to learn myself and secondly because I think they are necessary. I’m not saying that just because I’m in them [she laughs]. I think it’s also great to do performances where the goal is to forget a little bit about everything, about the present situation, but it’s also good to go to the theatre and then talk about the topics that have come up afterwards, “I agree, or don’t agree, with a certain character.” It has a very nice social side to it.
Do these issues only connect with young people or activists? A loop is often generated that inadvertently leaves out the general public (who would do well to know that other reality).
From what I know and the circles I move in, with people of my generation, these are the topics that interest them, and they’re left very cold by other topics discussing how to do theatre and other banal things. Everything we consume, in whatever format, is about these issues. These are the things that interest 16 to 35 year-olds today.
That’s fine, but then we can’t break the loop for the 60 and 70 year-olds. If they went to these plays, they’d be interested in the topic too. But Carol López has more of a middle-aged audience, in their 40s and 50s, who liked the play Bonus track, for example.
Totally. Even if they say that Carol doesn’t talk about it, her parents are really of this generation, and they can feel very identified with it. And, at Flyhard [the theatre where La família (im)possible is playing], people come and are surprised by the topic. And there are also parents who come with their trans children. It must help them when they try to understand the contradictions they see in themselves [which are the same as those experienced by the characters].
Now that we’re dealing with issues that affect a particular group (whichever group that may be), there’s the question over whether a transgender character should always be played by a transgender actor, as is the case here, or whether another actor could play that role. What are your thoughts on that?
I understand both sides perfectly. And I think the decision should depend on the play. What I do see is that there must be someone on the team who has experienced the conflict him or herself, or who knows it very well. Because these are cases we have heard very little about, unfortunately. We found, when we were rehearsing, that we had no idea really. I have a couple of trans colleagues, I thought I was better informed than I actually was, and then I realised that it wasn’t enough.

interview THEATRE

Always growing

Paula Jornet must be one of the few exceptions who has managed to perform at the TNC (National Theatre of Catalonia). Last year, she made her debut in the Great Hall (La nit de la iguana), following her success as the lead in La importància de ser Frank (Small Hall and later Poliorama and tour). She had already stood out in the play La Riera. Her first artistic foray was under the stage name Pavvla, singing tender songs in English. A friend of The Mamzelles and many others, she is adding facets to her interpretive palette, all of which are tools for expressing herself and connecting with the audience. She is able to project euphoria in an intimate concert or catharsis in a small-format play. Convinced of the social value of theatre, she celebrates the fact that she is working on two productions in which the topic forces us to review our conscience and discover our privilege. She feels active in small spaces, but can also absorb the attention of large audiences.

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