Carles Batlle (Barcelona). Playwright and novelist.
Among his plays, particular mention should be made of Temptació, premiered in 2004 at the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya and at the Vienna Burgtheater, also staged in France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Greece or Iran (the play has been translated into about ten languages); Combat (1995-98), premiered and published in several countries in Europe and America; Suite (1999, Societat General d'Autors d'Espanya award-winner, also published in French and Italian); Oasi (2001, awarded the Josep Amatller of 2002), also award-winner for the best translation into German at the 2004 Bremen Stadt Theater Festival; Trànsits (2006-07) premiered in Sala Beckett in Barcelona and at the "Temporada Alta" festival in Girona in 2007 (also published into several languages), Oblidar Barcelona, which received the prestigious "Premi Born" theatre award in 2008, Zoom, award winner 14 d'abril 2009 and premiered in Barcelona, 2011-2012 season, Nòmades (2018-19, October 2019 award) and Still Life. Monroe-Lamarr (Roda award, 2018), premiered at the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya in the 2019-2020 season.
The novel Kàrvadan. La llegenda de l'impostor was published in 2012 simultaneously in Catalan and Spanish, and is the first volume of a fantasy literature trilogy that takes place at the Pyrenaic region of Alta Garrotxa. It was followed by Sota l'ombra del drac de pedra (2014) and by De la sang dels blaus (2016). In 2022, he published the historical novel La doble vida d’Okita Sōji (Editorial Columna).
He has translated texts by French playwrights such as Jean-Yves Picq, Joseph Danan, David Lescot, Frédéric Sonntag, Marie Dilasser or Baptista Amann. He has also translated the Turkish author Yesim Özsoy with Yldiray Illeri.
As an essayist, he has written, among others, Adrià Gual (1891-1902): per un teatre simbolista (Crítica Serra d’Or award, 2002) or, more recently, El drama intempestiu. Per a una escriptura dramàtica "contemporània" (2020).
He has been director of the "Obrador", a space for experimentation and dramatic creation at the Sala Beckett in Barcelona between 2003 and 2009 and director of the theatrical magazine Pausa for more than ten years (until 2017). He has also been one of the patrons of the "New Plays From Europe Festival" (Wiesbaden, Germany). From 1998 to 2005 he was a member of the advisory board of the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya, and he became the in-house playwright at the theater in 2003 and 2004. In 2004, he was invited to present his play Versuchung at the Stückemarkt in Berlin. He is also a professor of dramaturgy and dramatic literature at the Institut del Teatre in Barcelona and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. He has been Director of the Cultural Services of Institut del Teatre and, currently, he is Director of the academic journal Estudis escènics.
He is a member of Associació d'Escriptors en Llengua Catalana (AELC, Association of Catalan Language Writers).
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"Batlle, born in Barcelona in 1963, […] is especially attentive to how the notion of locality —both its presence and absence— can communicate certain anxieties and preoccupations with regard to cultural identity. The preoccupation with place, space, and geography is, in effect, a fundamental component of his theatre, a recurrent feature in a trajectory of more than ten plays that includes Sara i Eleanora ("Sara and Eleanora," 1994), Combat (Paisatge per a després d'una batalla) (1995), Les veus de Iambu (1997), Suite (1999), Oasi (2001), Temptació (2003), and Trànsits (2006). Batlle's plays do not completely elude cultural specificity, but instead present diverse ways of negotiating the spatial void, geographic loss, or sense of displacement that occurs when the particularities of home—in this case, Catalunya and Europe—are continually reconfigured and rede-fined. In Batlle's theatre, there is an underlying impulse at work whereby the Catalan landscape, often unstable, fluctuates between visibility and invisibility. His treatment of space coincides with the emergence of a contemporary theatre that attempts to imagine a "new Europe," one that engages all its ambiguities, indeterminacies, and exigencies.
A playwright, university professor, theatre critic, and accomplished dramaturg, Batlle has enjoyed a prolific and multifaceted career. He is one of the most audaciously experimental and deeply innovative voices of the new wave of Catalan dramaturgy. His doctoral dissertation, com-pleted while he was a student at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and published as a mono-graph titled Adrià Gual (1891-1902): per a un teatre simbolista (2001), was awarded the Serra d'Or Prize of 2002 for best critical study. His work as a dramaturg includes adaptations, transla-tions, and/or artistic supervision of productions of works by Adrià Gual, Pedro Almodóvar, Harri Virtanen, Àngel Guimerà, Ignasi Iglésias, Jean-Yves Picq, and Joaquim Ruyra. Moreover, Batlle, along with Sergi Belbel, Lluïsa Cunillé, Pau Miró, and Josep Pere Peyró, is a member of the coterie of playwrights associated with the Sala Beckett, Barcelona's most prominent and prestigious alter-native theatre venue. Once a student enrolled in José Sanchis Sinisterra's influential seminars at the Beckett during the late 1980s and early 1990s, Batlle now regularly leads his own workshops in playwriting and dramaturgy in the same theatre space, as well as the Institut del Teatre and the Universitat Autònoma. In 1989, he was instrumental in establishing Pausa, the Beckett's in-house thea-tre review, and in 2005, he and Toni Casares, artistic director of the Beckett, resuscitated the journal after a nearly ten-year hiatus in publication. Since 2004, Batlle has served as coordinator of the Beckett’s workshop space known as L'Obrador and was a member of the advisory board of the Teatre Nacional de Catalunya (TNC) from 1998 to 2005. During the 2003-04 theatre season, he was selected to participate in the TNC's "T6" project, a theatre workshop under the supervision of Sergi Belbel and Ramon Simó, designed to nurture and stage the experimental works of six carefully cho-sen dramatists per year. It is through these and other diverse pedagogical and intellectual roles that Batlle has become as a leader in preserving and cultivating the tradition of text-based drama in Catalan.
Batlle's plays ponder the question of cultural identity vis à vis a series of intercultural asso-ciations, and his work is thus symptomatic of the type of transnational impulse that has character-ized the evolution of modern Catalan drama since its nineteenth-century beginnings. In a contemporary European landscape of fluctuating physical, cultural, and political borders, migratory and dis-placed peoples, and exiles and refugees, Batlle constructs allegorical spaces of transcultural desire upon which there is engraved an aspiration to transcend the local and the particular. It thus seems fitting that he should be amongst a handful of contemporary dramatists from Catalunya that, in recent years, has begun to establish a profile reaching far beyond the immediate geopolitical borders that he calls "home." To date, Batlle has seen his works staged in Catalunya, France, Luxemburg, Québec, Mexico, Germany, and Austria. In addition, he was selected to represent Catalunya at a workshop for new European playwrights held at the Bonn Biennale during the summer of 2000.
Batlle's plays appear to advocate a cosmopolitan European identity, one that actively embraces otherness and difference, overlapping citizenships, and the broad complexity of relationships among the global, local, national, and regional. The image of Catalunya that his theatre paints is thus evocative of the post-Cold War European cosmopolitanism advocated by contemporary political and social theorists such as Jürgen Habermas, a cosmopolitanism that seeks to move beyond the confines of the nation-state to new paradigms of solidarity and interconnectedness among citizens, and that does so without sacrificing the plurality of cultural and linguistic differences.[…]"
(Sharon Feldman extract from her presentation to "Transit", Marlin Verlag, 2007)
To contact the author
(Further information about the author in other languages may be found at: "Obra" (Works), "Comentaris d'obra" (Notes on Works) and "Entrevistes" (Interviews).
Photographs: Author's personal files.