Robert Walser’s “The Walk” at Kosmopolis
09 February 2017
A hundred years have passed since the first edition of the novel “The Walk” and Kosmopolis wants to pay tribute to Robert Walser with a theater play that consists in a walking tour that runs through three different Barcelona districts. With the help of the actor and poet Esteban Feune de Colombi, a group of walkers wander by the city along with the artist Joan Fontcuberta and the writers Marta Sanz and Alicia Kopf, who will also participate on a debate with Marc Caellas.
For once and without wishing to set a precedent, the back cover does not lie. Carl Seelig’s notes about his Walks with Robert Walser remain unparalleled in the history of literature. During twenty years, Seelig pays regular visits to Walser, at the sanatorium where he is secluded voluntarily. The visits are in fact walks on trails, valleys and Swiss mountains, walks in which between silences and clouds, between cheeses and waitresses, between beers and cigarettes, the readers discover fascinated the most intimate facet of the Swiss writer.
I have felt myself a bit like Seeling walking with the poet Esteban Feune de Colombi through the streets of Buenos Aires, Bogota, Montevideo, Sao Paulo, Terrassa, Barcelona or Madrid. Our scenic proposal is perhaps framed in what Reinaldo Laddaga calls a theater of appearance, a theater essentially composed of fleeting figures, which appear and then disappear, who are exhausted in their instant manifestation, and whose destiny, once their trajectories have been cancelled, remains indecipherable. The spectator walks with Robert Walser and, in that wandering, takes part in this theater of incidents that aspires to embellish for a moment the usually overlooked everyday life.
“When artists do not maintain a relationship of tension with the society, they are quickly paralyzed”, says Walser to Seelig during an afternoon. It’s obvious that the Swiss writer had time to reflect on the role of the creator in a world in which everything is valued in figures. With a fine and biting humor, with surprising levels of self-criticism, Walser builds with “The Walk”, a novel that, more than a hundred years later of being written, remains as reactionary as avant-garde, an ode to personal freedom and the courage of not sacrificing poetry and language for the sake of the dictates of the merchants of the temple.
Outlying a play for twelve spectators on mid-afternoon of a working day may seem like an eccentricity. That’s just the idea. To offer the unlikely reader / spectator an unexpected gift, a low-budget blockbuster, a play on foot. Because it is divinely simple and ancient to go walking, assuming that shoes and boots are in good condition, assuming that we have the disposition to pay attention and look at our surroundings in another way, assuming that we want to let ourselves go.
Walking is the best modern antidote in the face of haste: we are so eager to do things, for working, for writing, for accumulating money, for making our voice heard in the mocking silence of eternity, that we forget that thing of which those are just parts, namely: we forget to live. Walking can help us never forget it.
Robert Louis Stevenson