In 2011 I received a request from the Swiss-German actress Isabelle Stoffel asking if the stage rights to my erotic memoir, The Surrender, were available. She had been given the book by her colleague the filmmaker Jonas Trueba, who, in turn, had been handed the book by his father, the great Spanish director Fernando Trueba: I was told that there had been much animated dinner table conversation in the Trueba family when the book was published in Spain. Stoffel was interested in adapting it into a monologue in Spanish, her second language, in which she is fluent. The play, like the book, tells the story of a woman, me, who after the disillusion of a lost marriage moves quickly into an extended phase of wide sexual experimentation that lands her in a four-year love affair with a man who introduces her to the act of sodomy. She becomes almost irrationally fixated on the man, the act, and its heady lessons in power. It is rare that an actress would want to put herself alone onstage in a show that graphically extols the joys—and attendant ironies and absurdities—of such a politically incorrect act. In the United States, when the book was first published, I had been amply spanked—though not unkindly—for my unseemly interest, and my celebration of female sexual submission. For Stoffel, as for me, it is a love story about the very real risks inherent in finding sexual transcendence.
La rendición opened in the “off-center” (as in off-Broadway) theatre scene in Madrid in January 2012 to considerable attention and acclaim: the run was extended twice and sold-out nightly. Ernesto Caballero, the director of the Spanish National Theatre Centro Dramático Nacional saw the play and booked it for a run at the historic Teatro María Guerro where it ran in tandem with a production of Federico Garcia Lorca’s Yerma. The set features a candle-lit altar, draped with panties, and a bed made out of books, a witty representation of my own bed. I asked the British journalist Giles Tremlett, correspondent in Madrid for The Guardian and The Economist, how a play about such a controversial subject could play at the government-funded National Theater. “Ah,” he said, “since Franco it is all ‘Liberation! Liberation! Liberation!’ in Spain.”
The play will have its English-language world premiere in England—so appropriate being the place of the most famous sodomy trial in history—with Isabelle Stoffel (performing in her third language), at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
The Surrender will play daily at 1:30 PM at the Gilded Balloon from July 31-August 26, 2013. The show is directed by the award-winning Spanish film director Sigfrid Monleón.
For more information, visit thesurrendershow.com.
To buy tickets, visit edfringe.com.
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