The Shadow of the Myth. "El Romancero de Edipo" with Toni Cots Directed by Eugenio Barba (1984-1990)




The article focuses on the solo performance El Romancero de Edipo, created by Eugenio Barba together with the Spanish actor Toni Cots, and staged in several countries between 1984 to 1990. The performance was the very first monologue directed by Barba in his long-standing career. For Barba, it was also the first direct approach to the tragic myth, following an interest already cultivated around the figure of Antigone from the early Eighties onwards, in a moment of crisis and need for renewal for the groups of the “Third Theatre” movement, defined by Barba in 1976. For Cots, the monologue was the last and culminating part of his almost ten-year experience as an actor at the Odin Teatret, where he had also developed a personal actor’s training technique (in part based on Balinese traditional dances) and had accompanied Barba through the first research activities in the new field of Theatre Anthropology. With El Romancero of Edipo, Barba explored the tragic myth and elaborated an original theatrical narration based on the creative process of the actor, within which lay the rhythm of the montage. The text was therefore sustained by a rigorous score by the actor and by a detailed line of physical and vocal actions, making use of simple but very effective scenic props such as a vase, a self-built mask, drapery, a wig, and a stick. In addition, the use of songs and melodies, as well as other literary sources, extended the performative language of the artwork, giving life to an innovative reelaboration rich in transcultural influences. By analysing all these elements, the article ‘deconstructs’ the performance, retracing its sources and its development between the actor and the director.

Keywords: Odin Teatret; Eugenio Barba; Toni Cots; Oedipus