Dolors Plana ‘Lola’, member of the ‘Projecte Phoenix’ historical reconstruction group: “Tarraco Viva is born out of people’s hearts”

Dolors Plana 'Lola' / ©Rafael Ló—pez-MonnŽé

An athletic person, ‘castellera’, a fulfilled grandmother… Dolors Plana, aka Lola, never stops and never has. She spends every hour, every minute in her life making herself feel active, and it is precisely thanks to a self-sacrificing and gladly work such as the one she does, shared behind the curtains with hundreds of people, that the Tarraco Viva Festival is such a great success in terms of involvement to the culture service year after year. The joy in her eyes, an expression full of energy, the passion and, at the same time, the simplicity with which she talks about her job while standing backstage in the ‘Associació Projecte Phoenix’, a local historical reconstruction group, is the true picture of the commitment agreed by Tarragona with a festival after which our identity has been named.

Saturday is usually the day when families tend to do the washing up, go shopping or go and have a drink. You’ll find Lola and most of her mates of Projecte Phoenix though, in a warehouse in La Riera dealing with scenes, tunics, armours and thousands and thousands of Roman items handcrafted by them, and which will become the actual attrezzo for all their performances. Behind every education event there’s a huge amount of work and hours of clothing and material manufacturing. And this is precisely what Lola spends most of her Saturdays on.

Tarraco Viva is born out of people’s hearts. It represents the mentality of a modern Tarragona, with character and vision for the future. This makes us feel proud of what we do, hopeful, well paid without actually getting a penny”. The Associació Projecte Phoenix, born in 1998, counts on about sixty usual contributors, with their own lives, jobs and creeds, but who have believed historical reconstruction a common place to strengthen their friendship. Lola cooperates with it from the beginning, when her husband Pepe, matalasser like she is (aka casteller of the Xiquets de Tarragona) was recruited to become senator of Rome.

It’s seven years since her husband passed away now, but still Lola is at work, in the front line behind the curtains. Washing and ironing hundreds of cotton tunics every year is part of a sort of happiness recipe, where loving others and feeling valued become the main ingredients. The archetype of Roman matron, tireless supervisor and fabulous host, really suits in some aspects what life has appointed for great women such as her. “My mother died young. I therefore had to become a leader surrounded by men at home. I still do a lot of things, ‘cause if I didn’t, I would not be Lola”, she says smiling.

Once the coach and the vans are loaded, the people of Projecte Phoenix leave Tarragona and travel seven or eight times every year to several destinations and turn their project into education shows. As Tarraco Viva gets closer, more and more work emerges. Only in 2014, year on which the festival is celebrating the second millennium of the Emperor Augustus’ death, the Associació will perform two brand new shows for the first time, one of which, “El poder de la màscara” (The power of the mask), is a large-format staging with over one hundred people dressed up as Romans. And if that does not seem like much, Lola has recently welcomed two Swedish students as well in her own house.

Her husband used to say she was one of a kind. And that really shows in her particular vision of life, paying attention to what really matters where there’s no such thing as an impossible; building, modestly but in continuous coordinated effort with many other people, a highly cultural and social Tarragona garnished with a strong identity. “I consider myself a strong person. I have never been sick or taken any painkillers. I believe I have many reasons to feel proud about this”, she states. Being 72 years old, Lola really appreciates her luck. Tarragona, in fact everyone, had better appreciate the true fortune of having people like her behind the scenes.

Text: Oriol Margalef (@OhMargalef on Twitter)
Fotografia: Rafael López-Monné (@lopezmonne on Twitter)
Translation: Artur Santos (@artur_1983 on Twitter)

SPOT TViva from Tarraco Viva on Vimeo.