In memory of Leoncio Badia

In memory of Leoncio Badia

It happened on April 15 last year Romea Theater A dialogue about historical memory and the relationship with the past through theater and literature, starting with comic books The abyss of oblivion to Paco Roca I Rodrigo Terrassa The play focuses on part of this story, Undertaker Paterna to Gerard Vasquezdramaturg i'm a director, And Pepe Zapataactor and producer, with Victor Amela Activate the verb. In addition, the second part of the event included a staged reading of the play.

Pepe Zapata interprets Undertaker Paterna's monologue. © Mario Wurzberger

The story is based on true events, although fictional, and focuses on a character Leoncio Badia, forced by the Franco regime to be the gravedigger of his Republican colleagues, neighbors and relatives who were shot in the Paterna Cemetery during the post-war years, from 1939 to 1945. Faced with the injustice and helplessness of having to make mass burials, Leoncio Badia observed the places In which he buried his relatives, he placed bottles with the names of the dead in the hope that he would be able to identify them soon. He cleaned them before burying them, put them in them instead of throwing them away, and cut pieces of clothing and locks of hair into them to console his relatives. The other main hero of the play is José Celda, the buried man, who was imprisoned, sentenced to death, and shot. The guests explained that this story can be restored from oblivion thanks to the daughters of the two heroines, Maroja Badia and Bebeka Silda.

“There are many people who still yearn for justice for their relatives and I see how they find in work a kind of solace that helps them,” says Pepe Zapata.

Journalist Rodrigo Terrassa explains that when he got the story he knew immediately that he wanted it to be more than just a newspaper report. I was fascinated. That's why he “persecuted” his friend Paco Rocca to make a comedy.

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Rocca tells us that what prompted him to make the comic was to give a voice to the unseen greats of Franco's regime: “The issue of those who were shot and buried in mass graves is unforgettable, it remains a very current problem and I wanted you to hope for all of this in order to recover the memory of the oppression that “They were exposed to him.” For him, the process of creating the storyboard was very difficult, because it involved delving into the story, empathizing with the characters, and dealing with very sensitive witnesses. “Many of the devastating sentences in the text are literal sentences of girls,” Terrassa points out. Roca explains that the scene that cost him the most was the separation between José Celda and his daughter: “La Bebeca told us that when she went to the prison to say goodbye, she promised her aunt that she would not cry, as this was the last time they saw each other. They saw each other through “The bars, but they couldn't even touch her and Bebecca told us she remembered one of the last sentences he said to her was that he was going to die and he wanted to hug her. Often times it's hard to embody injustice.”

In addition to giving voice to this story, the comic addresses issues of the struggle over historical memory in the present through the story of Bebeca Selda, a character. “Pepica heard all her life that her mother wanted to find her father’s body so they could be buried together. When the mother dies, the wish becomes Pepica’s wish, which she fulfills through her perseverance.”

The story reached Zapata through the radio program Buried life Where they were explaining it. “When I listened to it, I lost clarity of what was in front of me and started crying.” Immediately, he saw the potential of the story, began researching it further and contacted Gerard Vazquez so he could pitch it.

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The Romea Foundation held a symposium on Undertaker Paterna.  © Mario Wurzberger
The Romea Foundation held a symposium on Undertaker Paterna. © Mario Wurzberger

The artists explain that they know very little about the two characters, only what the girls have told them. “We don't even know about José Celda whether he committed a crime or not. In the comic, he is a symbol of all the victims of Franco's repression,” says Terrassa. “In fact we interviewed many families and presented the stories of many people in the same character.” Regarding the character of Leoncio, he explains that they had to do some work to separate him from the legendary character: “The story that Maruga told us about her father was the story of a hero, and we had to bring him down to earth. We wanted to look for a little darkness in a character who was all light, and that's why we included in the storyboard the family conflict that resulted from everything Leoncio did with the dead, because he was putting himself in danger because of an idea. .

For Vázquez, the most characteristic thing about the gravedigger is his dignity: “He was a teacher, but he does the only task left to him to survive, even if it breaks him.” “For me he is Primo Levi here,” asserts Zapata. “He is a symbol of resilience. In the face of adversity he has hope. He marked the places of the dead and took everything he could to identify them in the hope that soon the relatives would be able to identify them and dig them up. And I would not have thought that it would take two days.” And seventy years, and beyond, until this is accomplished.”

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