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FERNADO BERNUES wrinting on the stage i.b.m.   The first thing you’ll see on Fernando Buernes’ eye-catching CV is that he was a failure at school. Maybe that’s what made him find what has become his very personal interpretation of theatre. He says that he is a theatre-being and you could hardly deny it; that’s what he has been doing for years. At present he’s the director of theatre group Tanttaka, a producer, a father and he’s filled us in on what he’s done and what he aims to do. You got to know theatre through work with children. What makes you throw yourself into this kind of work?
What did you find so attractive about it?

I got caught up in the world of theatre little by little, I started going to see local shows and productions and when I was away from home I started going along to the local theatres as well. I can’t really put my finger on any one thing and say “that’s what gripped me the most”, I just know that the closer I got to theatre the more it latched onto me. I loved the theatre and the way theatre was done. I loved the creative pleasure of the theatre group.

So, you went from being a spectator on the outside into the very heart of the beast, first as an actor and then as a director and producer. You gave up the membership of the group that you found so enticing. What was the whole experience like?
You need a real group to be able to work properly. The group is a melting pot for all the enriching personal contributions. You get to see all kinds of things, I mean, there are people who only work with production and direction in mind...and that’s a mistake, people should focus their work on the spectacle as a whole. That’s what I’ve learnt over the years; the spectacle will only achieve its true dimension if each and every person does what they have to and a kind of complicity is formed amongst members of the group. The same goes for ideas too, we’re thinking about a collective world where everybody is working on an idea that’s accompanied by words, images and other things.
There’s no doubt in my mind that it’s a poetic form of life, and I just can’t help finding myself more and more attracted to the whole thing.

All the same, it’s not the same to be an actor, a director or a producer; what do you think your most suited to?
I consider myself as, above all, a theatre-creature. As an actor, you really feel and live all kinds of emotions. It’s a beautiful thing. The director, on the other hand, has to give some kind of coherence to the everything. He has to show the soul of the thing. First of all, he has to explain it to the cast of actors, and that’s very beautiful, too. A producer’s job is also a very creative one. A lot of times I’ll find myself reading something, something I really like, but I know that it’s not something for me to direct, so I become a producer.
I have to find a director with the right qualities to direct it.
And I really like directing but the most important thing of all is to have a global perception of what you’re doing. You need that to be able to round things off properly.

In your case it’s clear to see that passion drives you to produce and that it doesn’t blind you because everything you have come up with has been received with applause.
It’s a question of character. Once I have an idea, whenever I read anything that grabs my attention, I just have to do it; I feel this need to write it on stage. It’s a necessity I feel, and if I have to produce it to make it happen, then I’ll produce it. I’ll do what it takes to make that dream come true.

That’s the way Tanttaka have done things. You’re responsible for it. But how do you view theatre in the Basque Country in general?
Theatre has been around here for 25 years and that’s something you notice straight away. There are good actors, directors, stage managers, the plays put together are well received by the theatre going public, both at home and all over the state. Basque theatre has a very good reputation throughout the rest of the country.
But, success kills in the Basque Country. When something becomes really successful here, you finally notice the lack of infrastructure and that, obviously, puts an end to the whole thing. We need to come up with the structures that will allow us to fulfil the potential we have here. We need to promote, sustain and guarantee acting schools. We need a public production platform. We need to find out what we want and what we need, and plan accordingly. So far, everybody has built their own house so as to say, they have built it how and where they wanted. There has been no general planning, no order and now there are problems.
We have to articulate what we have. We have to generate production, education, laws, something that covers all these aspects I’ve mentioned. And things won’t get any better until we’ve done so.

Tanttaka celebrates its 20th birthday in a few months. Fernando is a wee bit older but he’s still up to his eyeballs in work, getting the play “Mi Suicidio” together. We look forward to the end result.