La tourna (The Turning)
Subject: Political/Economic/Social Opinion
Medium: Performance Art, Theatre
Artist: Els Joglars, a Spanish theater group classified as mime artists, founded 1961.
Confronting Bodies: Spanish army officials
Date of Action: 1977
Description of Artwork: The play, La tourna is about the execution by strangulation of an unknown Pole named Heinz Chez. It is not heavy on realism and all the actors other than Cez wear masks, but it does make a parallel to the execution of an anarchist in Barcelona in the early 1970s. The programme even mentions this and claims that both these executions had a political aim. In addition, La tourna displays the military very unflatteringly. The generals are drunk, the Civil Guards are roosters, and the executioners are handicapped.
The Incident: In December 1977, the military closed off the theater where the group was performing and took Albert Boadella (the company's director) to jail. All the actors in the company were sentenced to at least 2 years in prison for insulting the military. This provoked an international reaction from artistic communities and there were theater strikes in Spain. Boadella was offered a pardon, but still insisted that no civilian should be put on military trial. He was imprisoned by the military for four months until King Juan Carlos pardoned the actors.
Results of Incident: The group continued to perform successfully afterwards, but still caused violent reactions from the community over their scandalous subject matter. They have never had another official censorship, but have been physically attacked by extremist groups for their performances.
Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.Theatre