The Collections

Created during the Diretas Já movement for direct elections in Brazil, this play is a parable of the political moment the country was facing. It tells the story of an old couple who has lived in the same house for the past twenty years, and how the house deteriorates day after day. The couple embodies the conservative middle class that supported the Military Coup in 1964, but that two decades later lost their privileges and went to the streets to fight for Diretas Já. Intertwined with parallel stories, a couple faced with eviction, a torture scene, and the judgement of a policeman, the audience sees the house literally fall apart in front of them. In the final scene, when the Presidential Candidate arrives, a giant hand appears to hand him his Presidential Sash, and the building collapses in shards, leaks, and dust.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010 20:42

Fim de partida (1986)

In this staging of Beckett's Endgame, the audience has to cross a long tunnel covered in zinc plates to arrive at the desolating image of the four characters, physically limited and trapped in between walls of zinc, consumed by relationships of anguish and resentment.  There is a silent and desperate pact between them, where Hamm is the despot who gives the orders which Clov obeys, but it is Clov who determines if the game goes on or not, since he could leave at any time and the others would die. The whole story revolves around the fear that he may leave, but he doesn't, because there is nowhere to go. Even in the end, when he ceases to answer the request of the blind Hamm, Clov stands by his side, still and silent, with a suitcase in hand. Everything ends as it began, and nothing happens.

 

Wednesday, 15 September 2010 20:38

Ostal — Rito teatral (1987)

In Ostal the audience of only twenty people is guided through a dark tunnel by a doctor, one by one, to the room of a patient, nearly completely occupied by an enormous bed. Once the last audience member enters, the doctor locks the door behind them. The performance takes place in this closed room, fragments from the life of a women tormented by mental illness. Her schizophrenia is portrayed not as a clinical disease, but as an inevitable consequence of the process of social adaptation we are all submitted to since childhood. In search for her identity, she seeks complicity from the audience, while all sorts of strange and violent things happen to her and to the room, without one word being said.

 

Wednesday, 15 September 2010 20:20

Deus ajuda os bão (1991)

Based on a text by Arnaldo Jabor, Deus ajuda os bão continues the adventures of Zé da Silva, the protagonist of A história do homem que lutou sem conhecer seu grande inimigo, who stands as a symbol for the Brazilian people. In this political tale, unemployed and living in the favela, he finds himself hindered from building a door to protect his shack. This problem starts out a journey in which Zé da Silva will go from door to door, climbing the ranks of Brazilian society — the speculators, the intellectuals, the government, the landowners — ending up in the USA, in search of a solution for his problem. The voyage of Zé da Silva sheds light on the mechanisms of power in a country as dependent as Brazil, in which the issue of land reform plays a central role. He returns to the favela with the consciousness that, together with all other exploited people, he has to fight for his rights. Deus ajuda os bão is designed as a farce and filled with irony, accentuating the economic and political drama in which the majority of the Brazilian population lives.

Heiner Müller's The Mission: memory of a revolution evokes the story of a slave revolt in Jamaica in the aftermath of the French Revolution. Three men, Debuisson (a Jamaican land heir), Galloudec (a British peasant), and Sasportas (a young black idealist who wants to see the new Black Haitian Republic), were sent by the French Convention to lead a slave revolt in the English colony. A Missão is a reflection on how ideas get exported from the hegemonic space to the periphery, and on how memory, through the political eyes of the present, reaches us today. Müller's work explores the dialectic poetics of the fragment, avoiding totalizing accounts and inviting the active engagement of the audience. The fragment becomes a producer of content, in a political act that gestures against pre-fabricated clichés and media-produced patterns. The fragment provokes an instant collision of heterogeneous temporalities, combining a critical vision of history to the deconstruction of the discursive Cartesian language. The combination of the fragment and the theatrical poetics of the body opposes the language of power and of the concept, since the intellectual act comes second to experience, to something that cannot be immediately determined, and that precisely for that reason becomes a lasting experience.

This play is based on a novel by Christa Wolf, in which she recounts the story of the fall of Troy from the female perspective of Kassandra. It is a play about war, but also about civil liberties, about the right to clarity against systems of power organized in hierarchical structures, and about the cruelties suffered by the excluded and the process of exclusion itself with its invisible laws. Why does one start a war? By presenting the audience with death machines, Kassandra incites them to question the values of war and heroism that traverse our culture. What became of these values once we were faced with the horrors of the 20th century? What became of our artistic traditions and their capacity to examine our civilization? In the current context, is the avant-garde — an artistic concept that unmindfully borrows a metaphor from war — anything other than an irresponsible leap forward? Using elements and iconographic material from World War Two, Nazi Germany, and the atomic bombing of 1945, the performance recovers the meaning of an art that doesn't shy away from crucial and painful issues of our time, but rather faces and confronts them in order to better understand them. Conceived as a heterogeneous syncretism of temporalities, Kassandra grounds itself on the ancient tragic archive of the victimized Trojan women, compressing nearly three thousand years of culture into simultaneous and similar gestures: violation, plunder, and the male warmongering imperialism, represented by a phallocracy that pervades Western male behavior and discourse.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010 20:05

Independência ou morte! (1995)

Borrowing from history the famous sentence used by Dom Pedro I to declare the Independence of Brazil, "Independence or Death!", Ói Nóis creates a new and unofficial version of the formation of Brazilian society. The purpose is to demystify the so-called "heroes," and to put the true workforce and culture of this country into its rightful place. The invasion of the land of the Native Americans and the expatriation and enslavement of African peoples serve as a narrative structure, exemplifying the oppression and poverty in which the majority of the Brazilians still live. The light-hearted and ironic tone with which the official "heroes" are treated brings some air to the moldy way the history of this country has been told, praising the name of a few while neglecting the rest.

This play by Augusto Boal shows the trajectory of a symbolic character, Zé da Silva, in his fight against hunger. His adventures begin after he asks for a raise and ends up being fired. Zé da Silva then has to face prices that rise faster than he can make it to the fair; a Guardian Angel who charges royalties for the foreign capital every time Zé consumes anything, including Brazilian coffee owned by multinational corporations; the lack of beds in the National Health System run hospitals; and the empty promises of politicians during election time. The play explores the comic effects of demagogy through accessible humor, caricatures, farce situations, acrobatics, and lively drumming. The audience is invited to participate, and the actors are not satisfied in staying in the center of the circle. They work with provocations from the audience, walk among them, talk with them and ask for advice, building a complicity along the issues being discussed.

 

Wednesday, 15 September 2010 19:52

Hamlet máquina (1999)

In Hamletmachine, Heiner Müller finds the site for the revolutionary construction of a new theater. His texts are formed of fragments, shattered scenes, and derisory monologues,  stimuli for the creative invention of a performed reality, the only reality capable of transgressively translating the complexity of contemporary existence. In one of the final scenes in Ói Nóis' adaptation, the dead figure of Stalin appears in the TV monitors, while three naked actresses parade wearing giant heads of Marx, Lenin and Mao. The characters and scenes are pulverized and multifaceted, allowing for distinct and contradictory readings, which provide for countless concrete political interpretations and symbolic references.

 

This staging of Goethe's Faust recreates one of the most universal esoteric myths of all times, that of the man who sells his soul to the devil. The entire story of Faust is staged, but not the whole text nor all the scenes. Instead, the audience of 30 people is guided through a succession of dreamlike environments, in a journey towards the unconscious of the character. Ói Nóis' Faust brings up the question of who is, after all, the Faustian man of our time: Is it the scientist and the politician, or the outsider, the one who contests the system? This story reveals to the audience two essential factors for human emancipation: the desire for knowledge and the pleasure principal, both crucial for fighting power and fueling revolutions.

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