‘A starting place’ narrates the “prosperity full of shadows” of the Spanish emigration of the 60s


‘A starting place’, the work written and directed by Iria Márquez that narrates the “prosperity full of shadows” of the Spanish emigration of the 60s, which returns to the Valencian billboard from November 17 to 20 within the XII ‘Cycle of Valencian Companies’. This piece by Vivirei Teatro was awarded the Sala Russafa Audience Award for the Best Valencian Show in 2021.

The actress, playwright and director narrates in this show the migratory phenomenon that Spain experienced in the sixties, when it lost almost a million inhabitants in just over a decade. Two of them were her parents, protagonists of this story, installed in Germany in search of a “prosperity full of shadows”, as reported by the room in a statement.

Márquez explains that the project was born for an edition of ‘Russafa Escénica’ that had ‘Spain’ as its theme. As he relates, the idea of ​​investigating emigration had been around him for a long time because it became “very evident” to him that it could be something “almost cyclical” when his brother, as a result of the 2008 crisis, had to settle in the United States to be able to continue to develop your professional career.

“It was as if the experience of my parents, in some way, had marked our children,” reflects the author, who also lives displaced from her place of origin, having left Madrid to settle in Valencia for eight years.

The show, which began as a short piece, was able to be extended thanks to the ‘Graners de Creació’ program, which allowed her to enjoy a creative residency at Sala Russafa, where it premiered in April 2021. She herself was in charge of interpreting then to Maria Jesusa, his mother. And Juan Carlos Garés played his father, Ángel.

However, the professional commitments of both performers “made it impossible” to turn the piece. So they have been replaced by the actors Héctor Fuster and Lucía Poveda, who make up the new cast of a proposal where the small anecdotes of an emigrant couple transcend to form a reflection on the sense of belonging.


“My parents got married almost without knowing each other, after a brief relationship, mostly by correspondence. He already lived in Germany and they met one summer in Lugo. When my mother followed in her footsteps, two very different ways of experiencing emigration became palpable” , emphasizes the author and playwright.

In the show, one of the characters sees in the migratory experience a tool to prosper, while the other suffers it as a “deep uprooting”: “That is why the title speaks of ‘A starting place’, where some find the point starting point for a new life, while for others it is a real hack that splits them in two halves. And their head is in one place, while the heart remains in another”, indicates Márquez.

The playwright assures that, to write this story, she “dived” into the memories of close relatives and her own parents, but also in documents of the time, which reflected the exodus that, in the author’s opinion, “encouraged” the Franco dictatorship.

“When a country does not allow you to develop professionally or personally, it is in some way encouraging you to leave. A discourse is generated about courage and the adventure of going out to find a livelihood that, in reality, masks the failure of a political and social system that is not capable of offering the conditions for a dignified life”, affirms the author, who recalls that this has been experienced in Spain at different times in history; but “also in other countries, from which it is now receiving displaced populations.”

“It should be easy to empathize with the people who come here to try to get ahead because, surely, they feel the distance in the same way that many Spanish emigrants felt it in the 60s. On the one hand, it distances them from their families, from their culture But, on the other hand, it incredibly strengthens all those ties”, points out the playwright and stage director.


‘A starting place’ starts with scenes “full of tenderness and optimism” in the early stages of a couple’s relationship that could be the story of “so many Spaniards then or now”. And it incorporates humor to highlight the efforts of Ángel and María Jesusa to keep a union alive when the differences “get bigger and bigger.” But there is also room for drama and reflection in a plot that accompanies the marriage over 10 years.

The scenery and costumes keep pace with the vital evolution of the characters. And the projection of family photos and images from Super 8 underscores the realism of this ‘self-fiction’ show. In addition, the staging tries to connect the past with the present through its soundtrack.

It includes original compositions and versions of Galician folklore, such as ‘La Rianxeira’; along with those of popular songs such as ‘El Emigrante’, by Juanito Valderrama; ‘Radioactivity’, by Kraftwerk; or the interpretation of Hurt by ‘Johnny Cash’. All this is carried out by artists from the independent music scene such as Galope, El Ser Humano or David Campillos. And add the transfer of the song ‘Looking for a place to live’, by Alberto Montero.

The result is a production that has gathered the support of critics and the public, where the stories of relatives and acquaintances resonate. Spectators “easily” connect with this piece that, through emotions, invites them to stop and think about “what the earth that anchors its roots is made of”.

‘A starting place’ narrates the “prosperity full of shadows” of the Spanish emigration of the 60s