Almudena Alvarez | Paredes de Nava (Palencia) (EFE).- It has traveled thousands of kilometers until it found its place in the world in Palencia, in Paredes de Nava. It is here, in emptied Spain, where Miguel Ángel Ordóñez has ceased to be a traveling puppeteer to become the Argentine who lives from the story in his own museum.
“I was born in the last century in Argentina.” Presents itself. It was 74 years ago in the city of Córdoba, where one day a puppeteer passed by who, as a child, marked the way for him. He studied Fine Arts, worked on the other side of the Atlantic as a senior professor of Fine Arts, Plastic Arts and Theater and it was during a sculpture class that he realized that what he wanted was for his sculptures to speak and move. .
“That’s when I knew that what I wanted was to work with puppets that were alive,” he explained to EFE. That is why he decided to “go out on the roads” and become a “professional puppeteer”, a trade that he claims to be another branch of theater both in the representation and in the construction of puppets.
With that dream in his hands, he flew to Spain as a young man, where he has had an intense life within the Cristoforo Colombo company, with which he traveled the world and from which he inherited many of the puppets, dolls, marionettes and masks that they now have. his house in Paredes de Nava.
“When the company was dissolved, all the puppets we had built touched me,” he explains. So he was already of retirement age, with no place to store so many dolls and with the intention in his head and pocket to burn them because he had no ‘money’ or place to keep them.
A journey of 11,000 kilometers
As fate would have it, on a trip to the Palencia Mountain, he met the mayor of Paredes de Nava, Luis Calderón, who decided to shelter puppets and puppeteers in a place in the town in exchange for Miguel Ángel showing his art to the residents of this town. from Palencia, more than 11,000 kilometers from his hometown.
That was how those puppets who had told infinite stories in Morocco, Russia or Sweden decided, six years ago, to settle down and settle permanently in the Tierra de Campos of Palencia, in the middle of emptied Spain, where puppets and puppeteers have found a new life. life.
From here he has decided to preserve “the old art of the puppeteer or the popular theater”, a profession that he recognizes as “endangered” despite the revival of puppeteer encounters. “There are great puppet companies but puppeteers who come from being street vendors are few left”, he affirms. “For a hundred kilometers there is nothing like this,” he adds.
He acknowledges that it may be something “untimely” but he wants to return to society the magic of a time when the magic of traveling shows, old circuses, puppeteers, comedies and musicians who traveled to every corner carrying their art lived in the towns.
And, although today there are other stimuli through Smartphones, tablets and digital platforms and people can travel to cities to go see a show, he assures that he manages to “enthrall” anyone who has the audacity to sit in the seats of your theater and switch off your mobile phone.
magic and imagination
It has the advantage that “dolls are magical” and that we all carry a child inside. And he manages to trick the kids from the institutes with his stories, a priori a more difficult and disbelieving audience. “Most teenagers have never been to the theater and are amazed that two people can bring so many characters to life with just their hands,” he says.
Those two people are him and Irene, who belongs to the local theater group Aldagón. “We are comedians, we take the dolls and we tell the stories as the traveling comedians told them”, says Miguel Ángel.
Today everything that can be seen in the House of Puppets has come from his imagination and his hands. Just above the theater there is a workshop where day and night go hand in hand, with nightmares included, until he manages to shape the characters that he himself is in charge of awakening. Including a Quixote with his Sancho Panza ready to go into action “whenever he finds actors who dare with Cervantes”.
There are all kinds of them, small, large and enormous, more classic or contemporary, built with different materials, including many recycled ones, glove and rod puppets, shadow puppets, puppets that move from inside, from above or from behind… because “each show has its style and its puppets”. But the hero is always the brave Pulcinella, “the troublemaker” who appears in all the works, the most traditional and universal, although in each place he receives a different name, Polichinela, Petrusca, Monsieur Guiñol, Cristobita or Chupagrifos, among others.
They are handmade figures, unique, but they are not puppets to be exhibited, they have to earn a living and work. And all of them, without exception, have worked on some project. Some have set foot on stages all over the world, others are made to order for the few companies that remain, restorations of giants and big heads are also made for the surrounding towns, and others have been born to tell stories to the children and grandparents who come to the House of the Puppets of Walls.
Schoolchildren from all over the region and from other provinces and autonomous communities come here, mainly Madrid and Cantabria, “because there are very few puppet theaters like this, with puppeteers who have been traveling, in Spain,” says Ordóñez.
In Paredes de Nava you can still enjoy this kind of show. Just sit in the seats and wait for the magic to begin. EFE