All parts of the city of Arrecife, from roads, corners and streetlamps, to building fronts and paving stones, transform into stages, props and silent characters of the largest street performing show in the Canary Islands: The Malpaís Festival of Performing Arts or Festival de Artes Escénicas Malpaís . The historical quarter of Lanzarote’s capital, is one of the few places that can lend itself so idyllically and symbiotically to this type of festival. Seasoned walkers can enjoy the exceptionally charming corners and spaces that enrich and are enriched by the variety of cultural offerings that are performed every year during the month of March.
Despite the fact that the festival is young, having hosted only three events, star appearances on the cultural Canarian stage in Malpaís have been made by Mayumaná and La Fura dels Baus. The event, taking place every year during March, features music, dance, circus acts and acrobatics. The festival has attracted musicians, such as the singer-songwriter Pedro Guerra from Tenerife, the singer Marta Gómez and Revólver, the band led by Carlos Goñi. Many of the cultural spaces in Arrecife, like the Teatro Insular or the fairground next to the ocean, have flourished thanks to acts like flamenco dancing by the famous Antonio Canales, and the oddly charming comedian Yllana and their alternative theatrical show, 666.
However, the real success of Malpaís lies in the perfect combination of these elements with all the downtown activity in Arrecife. The Ramírez Cerdá park, the Plaza de la Constitución and the historical quarter San Ginés host a wide variety of artistic exhibitions. Street painting and graffiti, which is open to public participation; the incredible exhibitions performed by La Compagnie Albedie Les Tonys; the crazy jugglers on stilts from the Cirqulation Locale; the hilarious Gag Man and the absurd circus of parodies performed by Canadians Les Vitamines will all have the audience bursting with laughter when they come flocking to the city’s cultural areas during this time.
The events of Malpaís emphasize the importance of culture in the education process for the youngest members of the household. The festival features a special section targeted at the youth. The children can entertain themselves and learn from the different skilled workshops that are organized in the street.
They can perform alongside the guest artists in shows especially designed for them and travel to incredible worlds described by the storytellers that they meet. Imagination and dreams are lived out when the magician brings his tricks onto the stage. At the last event in 2009, the young Spanish magician, Jorge Blass and his show El Arte de la Magia – The Art of Magic -turned out to be one of the best performances that Malpaís has ever seen. It is definitely something to keep in mind if you are planning to be visiting Lanzarote in March. It is the perfect cultural accompaniment to tourist routes, the sunshine and the beach.
Note: The photographs shown are by Rubén Acosta. Except for the image of La fura dels Baus which was taken by El Voyeur.