On the factory of feelings

Every Monday at 7.10 pm, El Punt Avui TV airs the interview series Going Native. This week, Neil talks to Mont Plans, a theatre and television actor with more than 30 years of experience, who has a new play, Sembla que rigui, on at La Seca till Feb 7.
How did you get into the acting business?
I met some people from a company that was just starting called La Cubana. It is very well-known now but not when I started there. I was friends with one of the girls in the company and someone was missing one day and they asked me if I wanted to do it. At the time I didn't have a job so I said yes, thinking it was only going to be for a few months, but it ended up being 10 years. Then I spent 20 years doing other things like TV but mainly theatre. I worked for most of the best directors and did self-productions, too.
Do you prefer the theatre to TV?
I like both but I like theatre more. When I see myself on TV I always think: “My god. Look at how big my face is!” But in the theatre they see me from the last row! I enjoy theatre more, every day is different.
Doesn't it get boring doing the same thing every night?
It's never the same. You have to remember that for the audience it is the first time they have seen you. So you have to treat it as if it was your first time, too. And also, you're not a machine. TV or cinema is a machine; every day is exactly the same, but not theatre. You find yourself saying things in a different way because every day you feel differently. And the public is different.
What do they mean when actors talk about connecting with the public?
There's an energy but you also connect through silences, through laughter, through the coughs. It's an animal thing. I love the connection with the audience.
You don't like the TV work so much?
It's more comfortable. On TV they do everything for you. You go there and do it and if it's not so good you repeat it, so there's not so much pressure. But for me the results are not the same. It's like the difference of getting a can of soup from the shop compared to having some of your mother's homemade soup.
Tell us about your new play, Sembla que rigui.
It's on at La Seca until February 7. It's a script I wrote with a friend, Òscat Constantí, and its my own production because when you can't find anyone to produce it for you, you have to do it yourself. It began as a big idea with lots on stage, but when you begin to produce it you see that there is a lot of things you don't need. I think people like it and they are surprised to see me because its the type of character I've never played.
What is it about?
It's about a very old woman who has just died at 100 years old and who is waiting to cross into the afterlife. It's an idea I've had for a long time, about a dead person who explains her life now that she can see it from a distance and understand what it means. We always fear death but it's not bad for everybody; there are people looking forward to death as deliverance. So, she explains her life, because she is being judged as to whether she can get into the afterlife. It has a bit of everything: its funny, sad and its touching, I think.
How difficult is it to get a play put on these days?
You take your script to a producer and they say, “well in my theatre we don't do this.” Another just does classics, another only well-known writers, so in the end I found myself in a small theatre that does personal projects. Obviously there is no money for the production so I had to produce it myself, and pay someone to help me with the music, someone to help me with the lighting, someone to help me with rehearsals, and so on. I am paying for it, but I don't mind. But, it makes you realise that if you have a good script, you don't need so many things. In the end it's just me, going on to the stage and sitting on a chair and explaining a story, and that's it, that's all you need.
How would you describe the situation of theatre in Catalonia?
There is no money. That's the big problem. But, there is energy and enthusiasm. There are so many people learning the trade. At the beginning at least there is no money from the government, so they have to start by doing their own productions. It's tough times. I think the theatres that get public money should use some of it to help actors more than they do.
Doesn't the lack of money limit variety?
We cannot let people only go to see one kind of theatre. It seems as if people just want to go to laugh, arguing that their lives are so tough. But then they go to the cinema to cry. Why not to the theatre? The theatre is a factory of feelings. And young people especially, who are still at school, should go to the theatre not only to see something funny but also small dramatic productions, so they learn what's going on. They also have to learn to be in the theatre because sometimes young people treat it as if they are watching TV, but it is not television. You have to learn to be silent, you have to be respectful.
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