"Essential Theatre"Essential Theatre Selections from Denise Stoklos’ writings on Essential Theatre
Edited and translated by Diana Taylor from "Manifesto of Essential Theatre" (1987):
Essential Theatre: "A theatre that has the minimum possible gestures, movements, words, wardrobe, scenery, accessories and effects but which contains the maximum dramatic power."
"The human figure onstage performs a unique alchemy."
"I want the stage naked."
"I want no decoration."
"I want it dry."
"Throw away the brooch. Put the chest onstage."
"As an actor, director and author, I am always questioning power, social injustice, normative behaviors, aesthetics, and the workings of the State in this capitalist, patriarchal system. I am less and less interested in the microcosmic movements of society…. More and more, I am becoming an anarchist. I laugh more and more at politicians. I save myself by following my own personal, unique path."
"If my students asked me what to do, I would answer: Invent something."
"I do not have the slightest belief in immediate results."
"I hate most of the rules of our social organization. Accepted behaviors and bourgeois aesthetic tastes [….] seem anti-life to me."
"To believe in the actor as the source of theatricality itself in a Utopian force."
"I miss no chance to display myself in my full femininity, which is peculiar, unique"
"I do not participate in political demonstrations in my country anymore. Not even against censorship. Because I am against the censorship of those who demonstrate there."
"After three months in New York, I found an unopened bottle of grape juice in my refrigerator marked Cr$ 12,00. When I went shopping, the same one cost Cr$ 48,00. I do not forget the poverty in Brazil, the poverty in Latin America, the poverty of the bread-less, the home-less, the school-less, the poverty of selfishness, the poverty of ideals, cultural poverty, television poverty, the poverty of human relationships, the poverty of health, the poverty of dreams, the poverty of the lottery, of remedies, of despair, of loneliness. The Brazilian poverty."
"I always come back home to Brazil. I always want to be with my children. We are trying to stay in our homeland."
"I remember one day in the Sixties when I wrote: ‘The American astronaut landed on the moon today. The monopoly has expanded throughout the universe. Today, after two decades of absurd wars (Vietnam, the Gulf War, Croatia), I consider myself victorious in my activist pacifist creative resistance—with a very special family, a personal theatre, and wildly happy."
From "A Brazilian Proposal"
"It’s necessary to situate historically the birth of the idea of an essential theatre. From 1964 to 1977, censorship had taken hold in Brazil. This thirteen year period overshadowed my first professional contact with theatre. I began writing, directing, producing and acting in 1968…. An open expression of style or focus was prohibited, discouraged both by the military and by the terrorized civil society. Being a woman (in Brazil women are still not recognized as authors), and coming from the marginalized South (in my country not even the Southern accent makes it on the stage), I had already experienced the isolation that motivated my critique. I amassed a repertoire of revolutionary impulses. No negotiation or simple reform could satisfy my organic need for change. From early on, my artistic choice was clearly for a theatre that would not reproduce proposals developed by others, but for a theatre that sought its own voice and corporeality."
After training in her native Paraná, then Río, the São Paulo, Stoklos went into voluntary exile in England. She gave birth to two children, an experience which she describes as transformative in her artistic development:
"Motherhood put me in contact with what was most intrinsic in my artistic path. I started searching, more rigorously than ever before, not for the superfluous, the disposable, but for the essential."
(About performance) "I worked on several performances in England. They prompted my research into the graphic projection of the text, which later became an important part of my solo work. By this I mean the alienated verbal representation of a text that occurs, for example, when a text is delivered in a foreign language. The expression of ‘feeling in Portuguese’ and ‘communicating in English’ reveals the denial of the emotional flow that occurs spontaneously when one uses one’s native language. I perceived that this divergence dramatized the encounter between signs… between the sound and the meaning of the word. That research shed light on the verbal path of my future stage work. …"