Primeros años y prensa
The first serious attempt to stage Negroid folklore as a theatrical show dates back to 1956 and was the result of the initiative and effort of Dr. José Durand Florez. In its beginnings, to the 'Trio los Morenos', integrated by Humberto Samamé, Lito Gonzales and Ricardo Ramírez, who interpreted Negroid airs, he added the participation of the guitarist Roberto Arce and the popular singer Juan Criado, renaming this group with the name of 'La cuadrilla morena de Pancho Fierro'. Taking this group as a base, he began to recruit any brown man with any ability, whether as a singer, dancer or instrumentalist of Peruvian Negro airs. Durand penetrated all the alleys of Lima and La Victoria. He managed to be invited to select encerronas and jaranas. He got a guitarist here, he got a singer there, he convinced a zapateador there. They spread the word to relatives and amateur friends and began rehearsals in Durand's own apartment. Each one contributed what he knew, they worked with ardor and when the thing began to take shape, they took the rehearsals to the Municipal Theater of Lima. An acceptable program could be structured thanks to the advice of personalities like Rosita Alarco, Toño Pinilla and other society people; thanks to the knowledge of don Porfirio Vásquez; to the long artistic experience of Juan Criado; to the compositions and arrangements of Samuel Márquez; to the instructions of the mother of the Soto brothers; to the quality of the veteran Mendoza Reyes; to Juan Mejía Baca, Rosa Graña, Manuel Cuadros, José María Arguedas and some others who really knew their stuff. Durand invested in this new venture of his company, 'Estampas de Pancho Fierro', up to the last cent. Alberto Terry was in charge of the scenery and Marcos Kaplansky of the administration.
Durand received wide support from the press, but due to the anonymity of his cast, about forty people, and the unusual nature of the show, he wanted to ensure the box office with a renowned and prestigious figure and so he got the participation of Chabuca Granda as a special performance. The opening night arrived and when the curtain rose at the Teatro Municipal de Lima, before the astonished eyes of 1,200 spectators who filled the hall, a two-hour show was presented, in a series of songs and dances of ours that were almost unknown to Peruvians of this generation. The ovations followed one after the other from the opening "Ritmo de quijadas"; the version of "Son de los Diablos" was dazzling; the cane field stamp with the staging of the panalivio "A la Molina"; the scene of "La Chacra", with décimas, cockfighting and contrapunto of Creole zapateo; the 'Serenata en el callejón' and its climax of marinera and resbalosa; the scene of the 'Toro-mata', a grotesque dramatic scene in memory of the black bullfighters of Lima. It was a display of images that, in retrospective vision, transported the spectator to the Lima of a century ago. After the success of the first performances, Chabuca declined to remain in the cast, no matter how 'very special' her participation was (later, in January 1957, Durand would pay her a well-deserved tribute in the Plaza de Acho with a full house*).
*Nicomedes participates in this tribute with the Pancho Fierro Company, although he is not yet a member of it. This event, held on Thursday, January 17, 1957, can be considered as the beginning of his professional career.
After the favorable impact of the first presentations and without the specialized critics being able to pronounce themselves in a didactic way, since they also did not know our folklore, it was the audience itself who would be in charge of drawing conclusions. The opinion of the spectator was developing in parallel to adverse circumstances within the company that in the end would put an end to the show: the artists that in the rehearsals formed a dark brotherhood, began to separate into groups and dismiss each other: cañetanos, chancayanos, chinchanos, limeños... Indiscipline began inside and outside of the stage. Whoever was able to get the most out of his act, and he would stay on stage for a long time. To all this, Dr. Durand had disagreements with such valuable elements as Porfirio Vásquez and Juan Criado, who left the company. Under these circumstances, rehearsals of new prints for the following season began.
Sobre su primer trabajo en prensa
Audio by Nicomedes on Estampas de Pancho Fierro. 1970
Foto de: http://caneteartenegro.blogspot.com/