El venedor de gelats

Year 1986
Category Performance
Work El venedor de gelats
Presentation XVIII Sitges International Theatre Festival.
Award Best outdoor show


Hyperrealist theatrical action.

It consists of a character “The seller of ice cream” with an ice cream cart or itinerant scenery, the tools of his work.

The performance consists of walking through the urban center with a professional ice cream cart, provided with three containers with their corresponding lids, a coin box for change and cookie cornets.
Communication with the public will exist following the same patterns of improvisation and development that are respected in everyday life, that is: the ice cream vendor is doing his work, talking, being friendly and attentive with his clients, and above all he sells ice creams asmuch as he can In the act of buying an ice cream, the spectator client will have a personal relationship with the actor seller, participant does not know with what measure to two acts simultaneously, that of buying an ice cream and to establish a personal relationship with the actor in the course of representation.

As you can see, these performances were appearing, during the tour periods of the URBAN MAN and were in some way fiduciary of their evolution. All revolve around the qualities of presence and the theatricality of what is conceptually not theatrical. Aquí me atreví a una curiosísima experiencia que fue llevar hasta sus últimas consecuencias la negación del juego y del ego del actor que se engalana conla mirada de los demás. El actor puede bajar al patio de butacas, acercarse al público, puede tocarlo, pero siempre es el actor que se acerca al espectador. Es desde una situación de poder, de ejercer demagógicamente el no poder, sabiendo que es y lo juegas como una concesión. Ese acercamiento con grandes comillas “humano” hacia otros seres que aceptan un estado de sumisión al sentirse privilegiados por estrechar una mano o recoger un autógrafo. Una forma más de perversión que damos ya por tan natural que nos hemos olvidado de su significado Habría que retroceder a sociedades antropológicas ancestrales para ver lo humanamente perverso de este comportamiento, esa perversa relación con el líder.

Well, no! Here I was going to present a work in which this scale of values would never exist. We were going to install in a public square in the town of Sitges, where once again we had been invited by Ricard Salvat to present a new work, a traditional and orthodox ice cream cart with its umbrella and its three silver cones protecting the three classic varieties of ice cream; vanilla, strawberry and chocolate. Attending the cart, the Venedor de Gelats with his cap, white jacket buttoned up to the neck, as well as his assistant, in this case the actor Albert Purgimont, a regular collaborator of the company, who was in charge of collecting and giving change. On the same side of the trolley were two wooden scissor chairs for the moments of rest.

As you can imagine the performance was called EL VENEDOR DE GELATS. It must be said that the three kinds of ice creams that were in the cart were of the highest quality and were specially prepared by Quim Capdevila from Vic, professional and expert in confectionery.

There was no need to wait. The midday sun punished bare heads and overdressed bodies. The heat was our best ally. The passers-by were loitering around that cart, some of them with a certain distrust. Yes, some knew because they had the festival program and others did not. They were afraid to approach it, even the “warned” ones seemed to have to look at it as if they were looking at an outdoor art installation.

But well, it’s hot and maybe inside this cute little cart, there are some ice creams that might be really good. Stealthily some spectator of the festival dared to approach the cart when he was carelessly overtaken by an unnoticed passerby who simply asked for an ice cream. Once the ice was broken, the ice cream was served and charged, the access to the cart was a matter of daily routine, an assumed and known ritual, because there inside, when lifting the metal cone, there was no genius, simply a good ice cream with a good cone and at a good price, the market price.

Someone approached me respectfully while I served him the cone after taking care of his preferences:
– But is this theater?
And he would say:
– Of course. The script is the question you just asked me and what I am answering. It’s 80 pesetas. Enjoy.
As the ice cream was very good, at the end they left happy, but a little doubtful whether or not they had fit the dramaturgy of that play.
Once again, the great lessons are given by those who do not expect to give them. A man behind me, having heard about the intricacies and why that cart and the ice cream man were part of the festival program, said aloud to all the customers/viewers of the ice cream man:

– Well gee, if they say this is theater, it turns out I was doing theater all my life!
I politely turned to the passerby and said:
– Thank you gentleman, you are the first one who has understood my work.

And so the hours went by. Purgimon and I sat behind that cart waiting for a customer to come by and diligently serve and satisfy him. We were free to move that itinerant scenography to other places, perhaps at that time more crowded in that urban center.
Late in the afternoon we found ourselves, a curious thing, in front of the same parterre where years before the URBAN MAN had premiered as PARC ANTROPOLÒGIC.

As the heat of the afternoon had subsided and the daylight was beginning to do so, it was – as those same characters said – time to close. But, oh malheur! in the distance, I saw a silhouette approaching, pointing as if it were a ghost pointing at our cart. When I was able to focus on that person and distinguish his physiognomic features, I said to my assistant:

– Oops, in Joan de Segarra, the critic of El País! Hold on, there are curves coming. Hold on, there are curves coming.

We kept the composition of our characters, because I was very clear that we were not Albert Vidal and Albert Purgimón but the Venedor de gelats and his assistant. The critic was already a few meters away from our area of representation and kept moving forward. As soon as he arrived he looked at me, leaned indolently on the trolley and said:

Vidal, how are we doing here?

As there was no one around, it would have seemed a bit forced to castle me in my character and I granted him, knowing it, a dangerous parenthesis. I spoke to him as Albert Vidal, on a one-to-one basis, and the conversation took the usual route of an evening encounter at the end of the summer in a coastal town between two acquaintances. With the same familiarity I suggested him if he wanted to try one of the ice creams, in a good-natured way, and after taking the first lick, he told me:
Ah carai, well they are very good.
So the meeting went on and on until the clouds of boredom made it advisable to say goodbye.

– Well Vidal, luck with that then (having eaten all the ice cream), I’ll see you around the festival.

He had walked confidently five meters towards his own destination with his back to me when I suddenly recovered my character and composure and called his attention with a kind but professional tone saying to him:

Psssssssss, sir, excuse me, it’s 80 pesetas.

The ice cream seller had won the game. When he took the coins out of his pocket they fell on the floor. Too bad he had been crouched down almost on all fours in front of the ice cream man to pick up his coins and pay for the ice cream. The end!
This is really one of the funniest works I have ever done. I had to clash once again with some highly respected ultra-orthodox critic who obviously hadn’t learned anything. But to my rescue came the poet and writer Carles Hac Mor who in a celebrated art magazine review spoke of VENEDOR DE GELATS as a masterpiece of 20th century nihilistic theater. Carles Hac Mor, merci beaucoup.


Creation and direction Albert Vidal
Ice cream seller Albert Vidal
Seller assistant Albert Purgimon
Technical advisor Cristòbal López
Ice cream elaboration Quim Capdevilla
Photographer Leopold Samsó




… En efecto, EL VENEDOR DE HELADOS bien puede ser considerada una obra maestra, y no sólo dentro del ámbito del hiperrealismo minimalista teatral, si no también en el campo del teatro considerado en su amplia gama de tendencias históricas y contemporáneas.

Como es sabido, Vidal, durante el Festival Internacional de Sitges, se limito a ir por calles y plazas con un carrito de helados y a venderlos., en eso consistió El vendedor de helados, que ganó el premio al mejor espectáculo calle.

Y como es lógico, a causa de la genial simplicidad de la obra, nada condimentada, ha habido críticos que se han quedado con un pie afuera y la han calificado, negativamente de no ser nada. El hecho de llegar a la nada es a veces una virtud, sobre todo porque supone uno impugnación al más difícil todavía!, que sea convertido en el lema secreto y nefasto de numerosos artífices de la cultura, para los cuales el espíritu que anima a los que dan saltos mortales en los circos, así como el taylorismo y stakhanovismo, son los principales elementos ideológicos que les impulsan a producir obras.

Albert Vidal, con EL VENEDOR DE HELADOS, ha demostrado que sin emoción, sin complicidad, sin diversión, sin provocación e incluso sin público, el acto teatral es factible. Y, bien mirado, esta no es la principal calidad de la obra de Vidal., es simplemente, una de las deducciones que uno puede sacar, cuya deducción, además es posible hacerla perfectamente sin conocer la existencia de El Vendedor de helados.

No querer decir nada equivale, según como, a quererlo decir todo.,y, lo que es menos, hay veces en que no querer decir nada equivale, sencillamente – y valga la redundancia- , a no querer decir nada. Y esta es la más estimulante lectura que se puede hacer de El Vendedor de helados, que se no presenta como un refrescante oasis en medio de tanta gente que tiene tantas cosas que decir y que las dicen todas mal, con el agravante de que son cosas que no merecen ser dichas.

Ahora bien, El Vendedor de helados no es un revulsivo contra ninguna forma de grandielocuencia ni contra nada. Y ante todo, es una obra que no pretende ni la más mínima provocación., y aquí está lo más interesante, ya que tanto los autores como el público, conciente o inconscientemente, lo que pretenden y esperan casi siempre es la provocación en alguna de sus variantes.

Y si no quiere decir nada, tampoco quiere decir que – como alguno ha afirmado- el teatro es inseparable de la realidad cotidiana. Una magistral y simpática puesta en escena de la obviedad y de la tautología inspiradamente elevadas a categorías teatrales, esto es para mi El Vendedor de helados ., y todas las elucubraciones que se quieran añadir serán originadas por el horror vacui y por las consiguientes llamadas al orden, bromitas y teorizaciones que producen espectáculos limites como este.

Sin embargo, ya sabemos que la función de los intelectuales es la de interpretarlo todo, así como la de dar sentido a las cosas, incluso a aquellas que son admirables precisamente por su falta de sentido..