Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Don't think about it

http://denise-r.smugmug.com

     She was a bright girl, and he was just another guy, perhaps a dreamer. They just acted their parts in life as everyone else. But one day she discovered his treasure island and saw him in different eyes. And a few days later he found himself in her eyes. In the beginning nothing was said and nothing was done. They just spoke their own tongues and made sense of everything. In the beginning they simply blew along, lightly, shining. Like dandelion seeds they drifted in the winds, not caring to ask where they were to land, or if they were actually going anywhere.

     “What do you think of all this?” she asked one day.

     “I don’t know”, he said, “I don’t think about it, I just let it flow.”

     She was a smart girl and he was just another dreamer, perhaps in love. They just acted their parts in life for everyone else. One day she discovered another treasure island and saw him in different eyes. And a few days later he no longer found himself in her eyes. In the end nothing was said but all was done. They just spoke their own tongues and made sense of nothing. In the end they simply blew away, darkly, bleeding. Like dandelion seeds they drifted in the winds, not daring to ask why they did not land on fertile ground, or if they actually ever meant to go anywhere.

     “What do you think of all this?” he asked one day.

     “I don’t know”, she said, “don’t think about it; just let me go.”

Saturday, October 14, 2006

The end of the world

When I finally reached the end of the world, the end of my long journey, I saw land far away in the distance. But I was on a cliff, and could no longer continue. The oceans had ceased. The land had ceased. And now I would have to look down. But there was no end down. There was only land in the distance. Only in the distance. It was unreachable. This was the end of the world.

And then I saw, from a distance beyond my body, from eyes way above my self, my own person there, standing, before the cliff. I was myself but no longer there, in my body. I was myself but with eyes that saw more. And the more I saw the more I rose, and soon I was far, very far, and saw that same land in the distance, and that small dot at the tip of the cliff, and then I saw, at last, the border above.

The lands in the distance at the end of the world were indeed unreachable. There was no ground, there was no way, in air, to reach it. I lived in some sort of aquarium and that was, at last, the end of my search. But when I moved my hand toward my face, when I was high above myself, high above my world, and the aquarium and the border of my world, I felt it and it touched my face (it was, indeed, my face.) And so I looked ahead, and saw the world. My real world. Not the world of the one who lived in the aquarium, which I thought I was, but the world of the real me, who lived outside of it: the creator and the full mind of the dot which faced the precipice.

But I did wake up from that dream and found myself once more before the cliff. And for I moment I saw god which was I, the one who lives beyond the glass and who knows about me, the dot. And for a moment I understood that God was I, and I was the most important person in my world, and that my god heard me because he was me, and that he knew things I did not know, but he sometimes tried to tell me, but I didn’t always hear him; I didn't always hear myself.

Finally I moved away from the cliff, turned left and entered the subway station. Sitting in the train I opened my book and the man beside me said my name. I looked at him. He had large eyes, a beard and a turban. He looked strangely familiar. He must have seen my name on my book, but I hadn’t written my name on my book. And so he spoke, and said:

“You see, all these people you see here, only some are real.”

Surprised with such an uncommon comment, I closed my book, and didn’t say a word, but looked at him with interest. He didn't take his off of me, and he spoke once more:

“This is your world and one day it will end. It will end for you but not for many others. It is your world, and you are your god, the one and only one, in your world. But this world you see here will continue, even if your world ends, because it is not real.”

“Is this a dream?”, I asked.

“Of course it is. Not only this one, but the one outside of it as well, and the one where you write, as well, and so on. All are dreams, and all are real. Real is what we share now. This is real in your mind, but in another mind, it will seem different, quite unreal, but you don’t think so, as the other doesn’t think you think different.”

I was confused. This could be a dream, but he spoke confusing words so clearly. Reason didn't help me understand anything he said, but it seemed as if everything was perfectly clear.

“I am dropping off at the next station.”

“Who are you?”

“Who else could I be?

“What do you mean? What is this all about?”

“It’s about everything. You created this world just to be near them. There is no other reason. That is your reason. Don’t forget that.”

“Near them? Them who?”

“All of them. The ones that have left, the ones that are here now, the ones who will come and the ones you will never find.”

He stood up and started to leave.

“Wait. What’s your name?”

“You know the answer”, he answered while he left. The doors closed and the train moved once more. I looked ahead, and an old lady stared at me. But it didn't last long and she looked ahead as well.

I dropped off at the next station into my living room. As soon as I entered I was blinded by this strong red light. I moved away and it faded shortly after. It was the sun shining on my face. It was red because my eyes were closed.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

In my room there is an angel

In my room there is an angel. I can't see her, but she is always around; she has been around since I can remember. She is there, in my room, in my dream. She has my eyes and something more I can only find in my mind, but she is not I, as I am not she. I am sure.

I stand by the window watching the universe roll, and I sing. I look down and see nothing so I let my head drop, and I fall, I fly. It's a strange sensation. I feel the wind, it stretches me, it's kind of painful, but hitting the ground is not. I feel the scent of the ocean. She is there again. I can feel her breath caressing my ear.

This place near the sea is way beyond the window. Last time I had to cross a labyrinth of bridges and trolls to get here. When I found her somewhere within the castle, we held hands and climbed the spiral staircases of the highest tower. Up there we opened the door and found ourselves on that same moonlit beach. There, facing the sea, was the blue crooked tree.

But that was last time. This time I just fell off the window.

There I am just a young boy. We sit on the swing that hangs from the largest branch of the blue cherry tree. We sit face to face, and in her eyes I see myself. I never remember her face.

I fell asleep once more, and when I woke up I was again before my window, but the sky was cloudy and below me was not the void, but the city.

Friday, July 28, 2006

More on Germany and the Play-off Festival

I wrote a lot about the Play-off International Theatre Festival and my trip to Germany, in June. It also inspired several related posts (about the Krupp family on Essen, about Rembrandt). But... it's all in Portuguese! The good news is that I love rewriting and translating and whenever I find some free time, I will translate (or rewrite) some posts to English. I'll post a few more very soon. If you are curious and in a hurry, I suggest 1) learning Portuguese, 2) browsing my other blog to see the pictures and speculate about what crap have I written in that caption beneath your photo, 3) using the Google Translator to translate the site into a weird and confusing English-like dialect (do it one post at a time or Google will screw things up even more). If you use Bloglines or some news reader, you can subscribe to this blog using this Web feed link and know when I update it, or (if you don't have the slightest idea of what a Web feed is) simply come back once in a while and see if there is anything new.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Play-off/06: the village


Sunrise over Portugal. Flight São Paulo - Paris.

This is an English version of a post originally written in Portuguese.

Our trip started on Sunday, in São Paulo. The flight to Paris would leave at 4:30 P.M. We all met at Guarulhos International Airport (São Paulo) and waited until boarding time. We arrived early and we had a lot of free time. Enough time for Ricardo to sit on a luggage car, slip and fall, and for Aninha to get lost in the airport. But, in the end, Ricardo was back alive and well, and Aninha finally was finally found, so we all boarded with no other problems.


A row in the Air France Boeing 777: Ricardo, Aninha and Peterson; Luís and Wanderley (window); Teka (window), Ana Pereira and me. The other three: Fabiana, Andressa e Maria were in another row in the plane.

I think most of us did not sleep during the flight to Paris (those who were near me certainly did not). When we arrived at the immense Charles de Gaulle airport, we had to get a bus to change terminals, we lost time waiting in the wrong line, we got incorrect information more than once and we only boarded the flight to Düsseldorf on the last minute. The flight lasted about an hour. André Wülfing other people from Play-off/06 were waiting for us at the airport. All arrived well except Ricardo's backpack (it certainly was not his lucky day), which prefered to stay in Paris. But, it was recovered and sent to our camp by the end of the day. We shared the bus with the actors from Togo and arrived at the camp in early afternoon. It was cold.


Antje. Foto: Play-off/06
As soon as we arrived, we were received by an exotic looking girl in red hair and taken to our new residence in Germany. It was a village made of several little canvas houses (tents), build around two castles (big tents). The castle which had coloured walls was a meeting place open to all inhabitants of the tented village. The red castle was governed by queen Antje, the girl whose hair had the colour of her tent (but it became brighter during the week). She was always rushing from her castle to some other part of the village. She had a sherriff's badge, and several pockets and gadgets hanging from her stylish belt, and was usually seen with a mobile on her ear while making notes at the same time. She would visit each house in the village in order to know if everything was OK, and if anything was missing. She would wake up the sleepy ones so they would not lose their bus, and keep track of all events, plays, parties and feasts. When she wasn't there, for some reason (did she sleep?), or when there was too much work, André would appear out of nowhere to bring us some important news like "your bus is leaving now, so hurry!"


The Consolidation coal mine and the international tented village
Photo: Play-off/06


The village was set up beside a former coal mine. On one side there were two other buildings where the theatres were located. On the other side there was a park. Beside the tower, bathrooms and showers were installed. At the camp's entrance there was a kitchen (another big tent) where we ate lunch, breakfast, dinner, and partied all night. It was the main meeting point of the camp and right beside the coloured tent.


Little canvas houses. Photo: Ricardo Socalschi.

The little houses were spacious and confortable (ok, they were a bit too cold or too hot, depending on the weather). They had a solid floor and five mats each. We were eleven and we used two little houses. Besides ourselves, the tents were already inhabited by other creatures, so called "spiders", of several species and sizes, and German, I believe. Us humans and them spiders had no problems sharing that space and lived together in peace during the two weeks (not considering some eventual accidents due to incompatibility of size and weight). Between the houses there was a place where we hung our flag. But it didn't last long. Someone liked it and took it away, but we got another one later.

When we arrived it was very cold. Freezing. To make things worse, we were informed, by Antje, that there would be no warm showers for the boys, since there was a problem in the heating system, and it would take a few days to fix. Great news after a long plane trip. The girls had hot water. After a while Antje came with a solution: we could use the theater's shower, but me Luís e Ricardo, the brave ones, had already decided to face the cold shower (based on a theory of mine that the coldness was psychological and that we would get used to the cold water in a few minutes), and so we did. The water was not cold as I had thought it was. It was nearly freezing! Every single drop that hit the skin felt like a whipping. My theory was proven false, but after I left the shower I felt like I was in heaven. Everything becomes beautiful. It's like a trip. It's like being in Nirvana.


Sunny evenings and lively nights Gelsenkirchen-Bismarck. Photo: Ricardo Socalschi.

At night, we would all get together around the tables near the kitchen or under the coloured tent and stay awake until late, or until dawn. The symposium* mixed voices in several languages, French wine and German beer. Oh, and what about getting some sleep? Sleep? What's that? Well, it wasn't easy. First, the nights at Northern latitudes are longer in summer, so the Sun would set around 10 P.M. and at eleven, the sky was still not dark. Midnight came very early. Second, morning comes back very early and during the hotter days, it's impossible to bear the heat inside the tent. Third, during the days of our plays André would be at the camp early to make sure we would be awake to get the bus at 7:30. But that's not the main reason many of us would stay awake. We stayed awake because, although we were sleepy, we didn't feel like sleeping since too many interesting people were also still awake.

But on the first night, I think I got some sleep. The party was not in the village. It was in Essen. I will tell that story in my next post.

There are many other pictures at the Play-off/06 site, the Play-off/06 group in Flickr and Benjamin Stöß's Yeeeha site.

* Symposium = from the Greek, means together (sym) + drink (potere). Don't confuse with potere in Latin, which means power. The most famous symposium was one that happened long ago when Plato and his friends gathered together to drink and to philosophize about love. Never heard of it? Read the book: The Symposium, by Plato.

The Play-off/06 theatre festival



This is an English version of a post originally written in Portuguese.

I'm back after two weeks in Germany participating as an actor in an international theatre festival called Play-off/06, organized by four independent theatres in the state of Nordrhine-Westfalen (NRW): Consol Theater, in Gelsenkirchen, theater im depot, in Dortmund, Studio-Bühne, in Essen and Flottmann-Hallen in Herne. The festival is officially supported by the cities fo Gelsenkirchen, Essen, Herne and Dortmund, by the state of Nordrhine-Westfalen and organizations like the Goethe Institut and the International Association of Theater for Children and Young People.

During those two weeks I seldom used a computer (I only used them in Internet shops as cheap means of communication) and saw no TV or any news. I ignored what was happening in the world (except for the World Cup, which is impossible to ignore since it was happening in Gelsenkirchen). In Brazil, I work professionally as an information technology consultant, so two weeks away from those calculating machines and away from any news were the best holidays from that kind of work. But, as for my other life, in theatre, those were intense and very productive weeks. Besides acting, watching plays and getting to know interesting people, the trip was also an opportunity to discover a very interesting part of Europe: the Ruhr area. It's a place where I probably could have been before on a business trip, but possibly would not have considered as a tourist destination. I also had the time to spend a day or less in the cities of Cologne and Amsterdam, which were nearby.

The festival

Christian Strüder, director of the Flottmann-Hallen, Herne; André Wülfing, director of Play-off/06 and Berthold Meyer, director of the theater im depot, Dortmund. Photo: Play-off/06.
The Play-off/06 festival was planned two years ago and directed by André Wülfing, from the Consol Theater in Gelsenkirchen. The idea was to bring together in the Ruhr area young theatre groups from all over the world and use all the publicity around the FIFA World Football Cup in Germany to make it easier to obtain means for funding the event. Initially, the plan was to gather groups from each one of the 32 coutries participating in the World Cup. With help from the government, non-profit institutes and private companies, the project was able to get together 16 groups from 15 countries and 4 continents, who settled in a camping site set up for the event during two weeks. It was a great achievement. From the camp, the participants would leave to see the plays in four tightly integrated cities of the Ruhr area.


Kerstin Plewa-Brodam, director of Studio Bühne, Essen, during welcome meeting at the camp's central tent. Foto: Play-off/06.
Play-off/06 was a unique festival, unlike any other I've ever seen or heard of. It had the original idea to keep all groups together in a camping site, an international village, and that is what made all the difference. Twenty-four large standard tents and some extra smaller ones formed the small village which was home for 140 actors from 15 countries and five continents during two weeks. The place was a Babel of people speaking different languages, but despite all differences in culture and language they were able to understand each other. Sharing a camp for two weeks broke many barriers of communication. We all wanted to mingle. It certainly would not have been as successful if each group had stayed in a hotel or hostel, as it usually occurs in many festivals. Eating breakfast together, staying awake till late, learning how to say "hello" or "kiss me" in another language; there were too many opportunities to start a conversation and get to know someone that came from the other side of the world. The camp was like a miniature earth, and in two weeks those people who came from all parts of the earth were like one.

And how did we, from the Núcleo Experimental dos Satyros end up in Germany? I've already told that story in another post.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

How did we end up in Germany?


Our group during rehearsal in the Consol Theater. Photo: Laerte Késsimos.

This is an English version of a post originally written in Portuguese.

We travelled to Germany because of our play Vestir o Corpo de Espinhos (Dress your Body in Thorns). The play is the practical result of one year's research by our theatre group: Núcleo Experimental dos Satyros. We are theatre students and Os Satyros (The Satyrs) is an acclaimed theatre group established in Brazil since 1989 and which has travelled the world with their award-winning plays. If you have never heard about Os Satyros, please read my last post. Our group (the Núcleo Experimental : experimental core) is formed by actors and students selected from the annual theatre workshops Os Satyros promote in their theatres. Every year we choose a subject of research, and develop scenes, seminars, short interventions and finally a play which usually shows for at least two months.

We spent the year of 2005 studying the life and works of Antonin Artaud, reading his plays, discussing his views, and exploring his ideas through improvisations and creative exercises. The resulting play was an accidental result. What I mean is: we did not plan it; we really had no idea where we were heading or what story we were going to tell. Not one line in our play was written by Artaud, nor any part of it (except the radio recordings we use as sound effects) had anything to do with Artaud, the artist. Of course the scenes, images, themes and text were inpired by the process, the artaudian obsession to innovate, but near the end of the year we still had no play: only a bunch of conflicting ideas and no agreement within the group. Everything was fragmented, including our group. There were conflicts of opinion among the actors and also disagreements with our teachers and directors. In face of the possibility of not achieving anything with such a chaotic process, some people gave up and left the group. The rest of us sought ideas we had in the beginning of the process, when we hardly knew who was Artaud, so all the work wouldn't be in vain. And then, when everything was nearly lost, somehow, we came up with the text. Several texts sprouted. During the second crisis, came the music, the dance, and something that resembled a play. But it wasn't that easy. The play was born at the last minute, like a premature child, moved by the necessity of survival. If it had taken any longer, it would have died in its uterus, shattering the group which had tried to bring it into existence. The play happened because it would be unbearable for all of us survivors if there was nothing to be shown, nothing to be seen by an audience, after a whole year's work. And so it happened that, on the last week of december before Christmas, after once more having considered to cancel everything, we put together everything we had and staged two performances during two days: a Saturday and a Sunday. They were to be the only performances.


Scene of the nine sisters, in Studio-Bühne, Essen. Photo: Play-off/06.

But they weren't. The audience reacted to our play in an unexpected way. People left the theatre with tears in their eyes, or frightened, or looking thoughful. Since during our first performance most of the audience consisted mostly of other actors and directors from Os Satyros, our teachers and invited guests, I thought that reaction would not repeat. But it did. I spend the whole play busily concentrated, either acting or playing an instrument, and never get to watch the whole play, so I never understood why people reacted that way. What did our play make them think about? What did they feel? Was it what they saw? Was it what they heard? The fact is we were surprised with the reaction (at least I was), but we still didn't know what would be of our play in the next year. We didn't know if it would survive.

When the Play-off/06 project was published in 2005, interested parties from all over the world were invited to submit their plays. We didn't know about the festival, but in December, Gustavo Fijaklow, from the team of organizers of the Play-off/06 festival, saw our second performance. He told our theatre directors about the festival and suggested that we should participate.

In the beginning of the year, we had to get together one more time to stage the play a third time and record a DVD which had to be sent to Germany before the deadline. There were other candidates from Brazil and the selected group would represent our country in the festival.


Maria Campanelii Haas, during performance of our play at Flottmann-Hallen, Herne. Photo: Benjamin Stöß.

Moved by the possibility of being selected and stimulated by the new weekly acting workshops coordinated by Roberto Áudio: fantastic teacher and actor from the Teatro da Vertigem theatre group, we again started to meet more than once a week, and finally returned with a two-month season of shows every Saturday night. And it was during this period that we received the news: we were chosen to represent Brazil in the Play-off/06 festival in Germany.

Preparation was not easy. We translated some scenes to German, others to English, and left part of it in Portuguese. We rehearsed, we argued, we quarrelled, and in the end, we staged two performances in Brazil one day before travelling to Germany: a regular performance in Portuguese, and an open rehersal in English, Portuguese and German for invited guests. On the next afternoon we left São Paulo to Düsseldorf in an Air France flight, and that's how we ended up in Germany.

Os Satyros


One of the theatre houses owned by Os Satyros at Praça Roosevelt, no. 214. The other one is at no. 421. Photo: Satyros.

The award-winning brazilian theatre company Os Satyros was started in 1989, in Curitiba, by the actor and playwright Ivam Cabral and director and playwright Rodolfo García Vazquez. It's main field of research is experimental theatre. Their productions span from classical texts to contemporary theatre, including their own texts, adaptations and collectively written plays. They always explore alternative interpretations and unusual forms of communication and expression in theatre, and frequently divide opinions among critics and audience.

Their first successful play was Marquis de Sade's The Immoral Teachers, in 1990 which took the group to São Paulo where they won several awards. Two years and several plays later, they were invited to represent Brazil in two European theatre festivals: the FITEI, in Portugal, and the Castillo de Niebla festival, in Spain, during the EXPO of Seville. After the festival they also established headquarters in Lisbon, where the founded a theatre school, produced several plays and performed in many important theatres all over Europe, from Great Britain to Russia.


Ivam Cabral, in De Profundis. Photo: Satyros.

This page, from the Satyros's website, features a list of all plays produced by the theatre group. The description of each play is in Portuguese. The list features controversial Sade plays such as Philosophy in the Bedroom and 120 days of Sodoma, Oscar Wilde's De Profundis, Lautreamont's Chants of Maldoror (which had its original soundtrack composed by the British composer Steven Severin), Büchner's Woyzeck, Heiner Müller's Hamlet-Machine, Goethe's Urfaust, Shakespeare's Coriolanus, Sophocles Antigone and several other plays written by Ivam, Rodolfo and other Brazilian playwrights. Their last play: the award winning Life in Praça Roosevelt written by the German playwright Dea Loher and directed by Rodolfo Vazquez, has recently returned from a successful tournée in Germany sponsored by the Goethe Institut. The play was written for the Thalia Theater in Hamburg and is the result of an intense cultural exchange between Brazil and Germany, Loher and Satyros.


Poster for Life in Praça Roosevelt by Laerte Késsimos.
Today Os Satyros is present in Curitiba, with one theater, and in São Paulo with two. They are also involved with several educational projects partly funded by the government which help to promote culture. One of those projects include free theatre workshops, cultural activities and job opportunities for young people who live in poor districts. They also maintain workshops for professional and amateur actors, which are coordinated by the group's actors, directors and invited teachers.

The acting workshops consist of weekly 4 hour classes during a full year. They do not follow any traditional acting method, but lead its participants through creative exercises which aim at improving qualities such as perception, truth and body language. The exercises help the actors to discover their abilities and limitations, and to find ways to materialize their creativity in theatre as creative actors, as playwrights, or in other roles. They are part of a "method" called Teatro Veloz (fast theatre), developed by Ivam Cabral and Rodolfo Vázquez, inspired in bio-energetics techniques, Stanislavski, Meyerhold and Artaud (but not limited to them). Several articles about Teatro Veloz are available (in Portuguese) at the company's website. During the year, each workshop focuses on a theme, or playwright, and produces scenes, improvisations, seminars and other performances. At the end of each year, the workshop's participants produce a full play (usually by collective writing) which usually runs for one or two months at the Satyros's theatres, with weekly performances (one recent workshop production ran for seven months).

Selected actors from the workshops are invited, every year, to be part of the Núcleo Experimental (reseach group), which continues the process at a higher level. Last year's production from the Núcleo Experimental: Dress your Body in Thorns, a collective production inspired in Antonin Artaud, was selected among several other Brazilian candidates to participate in the Play-off/06 festival in Germany, this year.

Both theatres in São Paulo are located at Praça Roosevelt, centre of the city. They started the first theatre located on the decadent town square which was a formerly a meeting point of tranvestites and drug-dealers. Os Satyros helped Praça Roosevelt recover from its dark past mixing with its history and its people. The place is today a lively cultural centre and has attracted several other theatres houses and schools.

More information about the theatre group Os Satyros is available in Portuguese at their website, and in blogs maintained by Rodolfo Vazquez and and Ivam Cabral.

Essen, Gelsenkirchen, Herne and Dortmund

St. Liudger Abbey Essen-Werden
Abbey of Saint Ludger, in Essen-Werden, which today is the Folkwang School of Music, Theatre and Dance.

This post was originally written in Portuguese.

The Play-off/06 theatre festival plays were staged in four cities of the Ruhr area: Essen, Dortmund, Gelsenkirchen and Herne.

Essen is one of the largest cities of the Ruhr, with slightly less than 600 thousand inhabitants. It was born around a monastery built in the year 852 and grew together with the rise of the Krupp family and the mining companies (I have written a post about the Krupps and I will translate it in the next days). The Krupps became prosperous in the steel business and their estate, Villa Hügel, in Essen, is now a museum and hotel.

During most of the 20th century, Essen alternated periods of intense industrial activity with economic crises and destruction caused by the two World Wars. Today, all the coal mines and steel factories in Essen have been closed, but the largest steel and mining corporations in Europe still keep their headquarters in the town. One of the main attractions in Essen is the Zollverein coal mine, which is a symbol of the rise and fall of the region's industry. When it was build it was considered the most beautiful and efficient coal plant when it was built. I'm not a fan of Bauhaus architecture (it seems spooky and lifeless to me) but Zollverein is awesome. The stage where we performed our play: Studio-Bühne Essen, is located inside one of the Zollverein buildings.

Gelsenkirchen
An old building in downtown Gelsenkirchen.

Gelsenkirchen is a nice quiet town (except when there is a World Cup match in the local stadium). With 280 thousand inhabitants it is the fifth city in the Ruhr area (after Dortmund, Essen, Duisburg and Bochum). Like the other Ruhrgebiet towns, Gelsenkirchen has large parks, many houses and low buildings. Most of the buildings are recent (less than 60 years old) and many residential areas are former mining colonies. The city was heavily bombed during World War II due to its great amount of steel plants and mines, and by the end of the war, one third of all public buildings and houses were destroyed. It's a great town to walk and there are trains, buses and subways to all parts of the city and neighbouring towns. It's very easy to leave Gelsenkirchen and drop off at any other town in the area by subway, or get a train to any large city in Europe. The festival's camping site was set up beside an old mining plant (Bergwerk Consolidation) that gave its place to the Consol Theater.

The transport system in the Ruhrgebiet is very efficient. There are U-Bahn (subway) and S-Bahn (surface urban train) stations everywhere. The one nearest to our camp had the name of the mine: Bergwerk Consolidation. You buy the tickets using an electronic panel which includes instructions in English (I still took a while to understand the whole thing), and then you stamp your ticket at the station or in the train. There are schedules printed in several places in the station and the trains usually arrive right on time. A subway ticket from the Consol Theater to Gelsenkirchen Hauptbahnhof (central station) cost €2,00.

Flottmann-Hallen Herne
Flottmann-Hallen, in Herne

We didn't see much in Herne, a town that is home to 170 thousand people located between Gelsenkirchen and Dortmund. We usually went straight to the theatre where our play and other Play-off/06 plays were performed: the Flottmann-Hallen. Like most other cultural installations in the Ruhr area, the Flottmann-Hallen is located at in a building which used to be a factory. The building's architecture is slightly inspired in the Art Noveau school.

Dortmund is the largest and one of the most important cities of the Ruhr. It's practically the same size as Essen. A few months ago, the city was invaded by several coloured winged rhinos. Fortunately someone turned them into statues and now they are harmless. Dortmund is also the home town of the crazy Borussia-Dortmund football fans. Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to get to know Dortmund neither did I see any play at the Theater im Depot, which was one of the four theatres which hosted the Play-off/06 festival. I expect to visit the city during my next trip.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Zeche Zollverein


Zeche Zollverein Schacht XII. Photo: http://www.zollverein.de.

This post was originally written in Portuguese.

Designed by the architects Fritz Schupp and Martin Kremmer in Bauhaus style, the Zollverein industrial complex (Zeche Zollverein) is a symbol that represents the rise and fall of all an industry that dominated and formed the Ruhr area. When it was built, it was considered a marvel of efficiency. It was the last mine to be closed down in the city of Essen in 1986. The colliery (used to transform coal into coke: an essential fuel for the steel industry) was the largest and most modern plant in Europe when it was built in 1961. It was also closed down in 1993.

Today Zollverein is a symbol of rebirth. The industrial complex, that since 2001 is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, searches for innovative solutions to give a new impulse to the economy of an area that still retains one of the highest unemployment rates in Europe. 110 million euros were invested from 2002 e 2007 by the European Union, the state of North Rhine-Westphalia and the city of Essen to transform Zollverein into a centre of excellency focusing on the development of creative industry. Today, the complex is home to several cultural institutions, like the Red Dot Museum, and the famous Zollverein School of Management and Design.


Zollverein collery, closed in 1993. Now it is used as a space for shows and theatrical performances. Photo: http://www.zollverein.de

The Zollverein industrial complex is huge (look at this satellite image). There are dozens of buildings connected by tubes, tunnels, bridges and cables. You can walk or move from one area to another on rails by hanging bridges that spread for hundreds of metres, connecting one sector to the other. There is still a lot of space that can be used. In 2007 Zollverein will have a new museum: Ruhr Museum and in 2010, when the Ruhrgebiet becomes Europe’s Capital of Culture, you can visit the Invisible City (Die Zweite Stadt), an underground museum 1000 metres bellow Zollverein Shaft XII.

I have been in Zollverein several times from June 5 to 9, this year, participating in the Play-off/06 international theatre festival. The festival’s welcome party was held in one of the Zollverein buildings, as well as several theatre performances (including ours) and workshops.

See more images of Zeche Zollverein.
(1)(2)(3)
(4)(5)(6)
(7)(8)(9)

Credits: 1, 2 e 3: Helder da Rocha. 4, 5 e 6: Uli Benke (Flickr).7: Gloria (Flickr). 8 e 9: Oliver Regelmann (Flickr)

The Ruhrgebiet

Ruhr Map by Daniel Ullrich (see URL below)
Ruhr Map by Daniel Ullrich

This post was originally written in Portuguese.

The Ruhrgebiet, or Ruhr Area, with its 5,3 million inhabitants, is Germany's largest metropolitan area and fourth largest in Europe (after Moscow, London and Paris). It is located around the rivers Ruhr, Emscher and Lippe, tributaries of the Rhine, in the state of North-Rhine Westphalia, western Germany, near Belgium and the Netherlands. The Ruhrgebiet consists of 11 cities, four districts and no central authority. It's an unusual decentralized metropolis where 2,1 million inhabitants live in the four largest cities: Dortmund, Essen, Duisburg and Bochum and the rest are scattered in the cities of Gelsenkirchen, Oberhausen, Herne, Mühlheim, Bottrop, Hagen and Hamm, or in its four districts. 12% of the population consists of immigrants from Turkey or other parts of Europe. The Ruhrgebiet is the industrial heart of Germany, the country's most important technological and cultural centre and Europes largest industrial and mining region.

Inner Harbour, in Duisburg
Inner Harbour, em Duisburg
Its normal for someone to live in Gelsenkirchen, study in Essen, work in Bochum, go to the theatre in Oberhausen and see a concert in Dortmund. The cities are so close to each other and so well integrated by public transportation that they seem as if they were one.

There was a time when the most important Ruhrgebiet town was invisible and could only be seen 1000 metres below the ground. Most of the history of the Ruhr is connected to the production of coal and steel. The crisis in the mining sector since the 1960s has closed most of the mining companies and brought along very high unemployment rates to the area. Its high concentration of steel and arms industries also made it a main target in World War II and the Ruhr cities were heavily bombed by allied forces. But despite all this the Ruhr managed to survive and remains one of the main economic centres of Europe.

Tetrahedron in Ruhrgebiet
Tetrahedron, in Bottrop
Formerly known for its environmental pollution, the Ruhr area is today a model in terms of environmental and social recovery. Several cities and towns have invested in new non-polluting power generation alternatives (like solar energy), and in projects that reuse urban space. The buildings of several former plants and mining companies have become cultural institutions, restaurants, clubs and other public spaces. The Ruhrgebiet has over 200 museums, more than 100 cultural centres, 220 theatres and concert halls, and 19 universities and colleges.

A result of this new cultural identity is its recent title of European Capital of Culture. Essen, as a representative for all cities of the Ruhr area, was selected by the Committee for Culture of the European Union, to receive this title in 2010. The title of European Capital of Culture is attributed every year to a European city since 1985. Since 2005 the rules have changed and now three capitals are selected each year: one from a founding member country, one from a new member and one from a non-EU country. In 2010, the European Capitals of Culture are the Ruhrgebiet, Pécs (Hungary), and Istanbul (Turkey).

I was in the Ruhrgebiet from June 5 to 18 participating in the Play-off/06 international theatre festival that was held in four cities of the Rurh area: Essen, Dortmund, Gelsenkirchen and Herne.

See other Rurhgebiet images:
GelsenkirchenZollverein Shaft XIIBottrop Tetrahedron

Consol Theater

Consol Theater, seen from the camp

This post was originally written in Portuguese.

In 1863, seven coal industries combined their mines under one firm named Consolidation, popularly known as Consol. Between 1872 e 1876, Consolidation was the largest mining company of the Ruhr area. 15 thousand tonnes of coal were lifted daily up the Consolidation 3 tower. It stopped operating in 1993.

Since September 2001, the areas 3, 4 and 9 of the former Consolidation mining company, located in Gelsenkirchen-Bismarck, are used by the Consol Theater. The main theatre is located in the ventilation building.

From June 5 to 18, this year, I lived in a tented village set up beside Consol Theater, together with other participants from 15 countries which took part in the Play-off/06 international theatre festival.

See other images of Bergwerk* Consolidation and Consol Theater.
Bergwerk Consolidation (Consolidation coal mine)Camp and Consol TheaterBergwerk Consolidation from Google Earth

*Bergwerk means coal mine in German. The mining companies were also called Zeche.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Back from Europe, back to reality


People from 15 countries were one world in this timeless village, which now only exists in our memories.

I have just returned from Germany and still trying to adapt to reality and the long nights of São Paulo. I'm preparing a big post about the trip, the Play-off theatre festival, our performances in Herne and Essen, the other plays, the people, the places and much more. See my Flickr and Fotolog where I have published some photos.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Acting in Germany


Scene from the beginning of the play (captured from DVD recorded by Carlos Ebert). I am the blind man playing the acordeon.

This is a version of a post originally written in Portuguese.

Next Monday (June 5th) I will be in Germany, travelling with my theatre group to participate in an international theatre festival: Play-off’06, which will last from June 5th to June 17th in four cities in the Ruhr area, or Ruhrgebiet (state of Nordrhine-Wesfalen). Our play: Dress your body in thorns, was selected to represent Brazil. There will be at least two performances. One on June 7th, in Essen, and the other on June 13th in Herne (details below).

The text was written as part of collaborative process. We sought inspiration in surrealism, modern existentialist issues and in many ideas of the French writer and actor Antonin Artaud. I can say it’s an impressionist play. It’s not a conventional play with beginning, middle and end. It doesn’t have a conventional aristotelic structure (it’s not a tragedy, nor a comedy.) It’s more like a poem or a surrealistic painting. It consists of several scenes that have a common theme which is the search for consciousness, existence or reality. Time does not exist and space is an illusion of the mind. The beginning is as indefinite as the end. It can be interpreted as a dream happening in the mind of the tormented woman that appears out of nowhere at the beginning of the play. And since it is a dream, all that is seen may be illusions and the impressions may not be real, but what one feels is real.


Scene from the play (DVD by Carlos Ebert). Me (behind) e Ricardo Socalschi.

As most of the group, I do not only act in the play. I wrote one of the scenes, I created several objects used in the play (a fetus, light canes, artificial eyes), I act as one of the blind men and play the soundtrack on the piano when I’m not acting. I also translated the text to English (since in Germany the play will be performed in English with parts in Portuguese and German).

So for the next two weeks I will be in Germany. I’ll be away from this computer (which I usually take everywhere) but I will update my blogs whenever I have a chance with news and pictures. I’m anxious to meet actors from all over the world in this festival, and also to get to know western Germany (I’ve never been to any part of Germany). I expect to visit Köln and its famous gothic cathedral. I’m taking some theatre books to read on the plane and Walter Kauffman’s translation of Goethe’s Faust (I still can’t read in German) which is a good book to take on a trip to Germany, even if I don't have time to read it. On Monday we should arrive in Dusseldorf (where there is a vampire, but luckily we will arrive during the day), and from there we should go to Gelsenkirchen, where we will camp together with people from other 15 countries.

My next post will be from Europe. If you read Portuguese, check also my other blog. If you are nearby, here are the details if you wish to see our performance:

Dress your body in thorns
by Núcleo Experimental dos Satyros, São Paulo, Brazil. Collaborative text. Directed by Alberto Guzik.
Performances:
Herne: Tuesday 13.06. – 10.00 a.m. Herne / Flottmann-Hallen
Essen: Wednesday 07.06. – 10.00 a.m. Essen / Studio-Bühne – Zollverein XII – Halle 12
Duration: 40 minutes.
Actors: Fabiana Souza, Ana Lúcia Felipe, Ana Pereira dos Santos, Andressa Cabral, Helder da Rocha, Luis Paulo Maeda, Maria Campanelli Haas, Peterson Ramos, Ricardo Socalschi, Teka Romualdo, Wanderley Firmino.
See more about the festival at the Playoff'06 website.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

George

George, I have bad news. You won’t believe it, so sit down. Your boy didn’t return. He should be here soon, but, I’m afraid he will no longer be of any use, to you, or to no one. He won’t even say hello when he arrives and you will have to visit him, since he will not see you. Sorry George. That’s not all, George. You are in trouble. Because, when he does return, nothing will be as before, you know? You will have to find a way to make things work as they did before, and it will be hard, very hard, maybe impossible, George. But don’t worry. You are not alone. We are in bigger trouble. Because we can’t explain it, George. We can’t explain how it will be when he returns. We can’t explain why he didn’t return. But he will, that is sure, George, and boy are we in big trouble! They found someone this morning. It was no longer someone. It wasn’t as before. Jane pushed him away and he fell from the pier. It was a mistake. He hit his head. He is dead, George. He is fucking dead. It’s probably not him, George. It’s not him, I am sure, I saw him. It’s not him, no longer him. I saw nothing. It’s not my fault if your boy didn’t return, George! How the hell could I have seen him? Jane did, but I don’t know where she is now, and that’s none of my business. I don’t like your boy, George, but he will return, don’t worry. He should be here very soon now. I don’t know how he will make it, but he will, and you will have to visit him since the mother fucker won’t speak. I won’t be there and neither will Jane. Only you are in trouble, George, because when you meet him, nothing will be as before. Nothing will be, George, nothing will be.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

I play with fire



Love is true, love is free, but love is a naughty child.

She never settles for less than everything.

Her intentions are the best, but her moves are sly and unpredictable.

She is life, true life in the best sense of the word, but her will is unbounded.

She will take whatever is at hand to have the world.

She does not think. She loves.

She wants my existence, my mind, my dreams and my life.

No pacts, treaties, commitments have any value whatsoever.

Love just loves, and loves irrationally, intensely, without bounds.

If she loves me, I am the Universe, I am Creation.

If she leaves me, I am the specter of nothingness in the winds of Hell.

I am in love with Love; therefore, I am doomed.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Big Crunch

She was there, lying down, reading a book. I could only see her lips, her neck, her hair spread over the pillow. She was dressed in a white T-shirt partly covering her breast, and blue silk shorts, very short, revealing more than I could see. Her legs were slightly apart. Her left hand was holding the book.

The left hand held the yellow book and the other drifted in space, having fun with her surfaces, discovering her places, exploring her textures. Between every page turn that wandering hand would sneakily slip underneath her shirt, and cast, over my hidden face, shadows of the flickering turgid little nipples. And each time that happened, the cloth would slide up a little bit more, revealing more skin, her breasts and their pink peaks.

Finally, the shirt became a burden. She dropped the book and turned aside. I rapidly moved back as if she could possibly discover that eye in such a small crack. When I returned, she was there, in the same place as before, free from all obstacles except the blue silken short, which was now a bit darker near the centre.

Now, the right hand was holding the book. The sinister one was now free to explore the universe as well as it wished. It seemed to prefer smoother textures, warmer places, and so it slipped over that damp silk covered delta. It was daring, it was faster. Her legs would tremble, her lips would part, and it would slide over once more. I could now hear her breathing; stronger. I saw her tongue moving through her lips. The hand was busy, gently patting, sometimes rubbing. And after the duty of turning the page it would always return to that same cozy place. But this time she crept beneath the surface. A sigh. She trembled while it slipped under her silken short. The avid fingers did not wish to return. They did not wish to stop. A moan. The page was not turned when it should have...

The book was dropped and her face was revealed. Impatient, she finally got rid of the last of the obstacles. She gave up the book and all that was left. The room was in flames, and all had gone wild. The odors and sounds so strong and so great, that I by mistake, slipped; and fell through the door.

And there was I, lost before her. She looked at me, but it was too late. No more could she stop. Not there. Not now, at that precise moment. Always staring, she kept on her stirring, and breathing, and moaning, erupting in spasms, her eyes nearly closing. Her gaze would not leave me. In fear and with haste, I tried to escape, but no longer I could. My limbs would not move. My sight became dim. Her breast nearby pulsing would stop my poor heart. Her moans became shrieks and and the air burnt like fire. The air was her smell, and no more could I breathe. I was burnt by wet lips. Scarred by hot skin. To nothingness squished. I drowned in her fluids. She bit like a viper; she grew wild and vile. My universe shrank, and my mind was dissolved while I, no longer myself, was dragged to be lost forever, into that ravenous black hole.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Twilight


Originally written in Portuguese.

1

(Two blind men, somewhere on stage.)

FIRST BLIND MAN – She's gone.

SECOND BLIND MAN – Where to?

FBM – Nobody knows. (pause) The truth is that she hasn’t been here for a long time. I can still feel her touching me, but I can no longer see her.

SBM – It’s a dream.

FBM – No. It is not. She left her marks on me... sometimes she hurts me. I can smell her. She smells like blood. She screams, she begs to be seen; she strikes me; she knocks me down.

SBM – Is there no return?

FBM – No.

SBM – How can you be sure?

FBM – Because... because I don’t want it. If I continue taking these... things… she will return, but I don’t want that. She only exists when I'm hallucinating. Perhaps she’s only a simulation, a program, an idea...

SBM – But what about the bruises, the screams...

FBM – It's true... Maybe it's the other way around... Maybe she does exist, but not in the system, you get it? If I cut myself off the system I won’t see anything, nor her, nor you, nobody! Like now… She may have disconnected...

SBM – But then she is real...

FBM – Probably... possibly...

SBM – It’s as if she were... a specter, a ghost.

FBM – No. She has a body… without a face. Maybe she's body with no soul.

(They both turn off their canes.)

2

(Two blind men, somewhere on stage.)

SECOND BLIND MAN – How silent.

FIRST BLIND MAN – It's the stillness. Very soon the storm will be here.

SBM – Perhaps it would be a good idea if we went home.

FBM – No. I'll wait.

SBM – I understand... do you mind if I don’t stay?

FBM – No. But it’s safer if you do.

SBM – Why?

FBM – Because this place doesn't exist in the system! Didn't you get it? There is no way they can take anything from you here.

SBM – But what can they take from me?

FBM – Oh... (sigh) Your identity, your presence, your existence...

SBM – I... I didn’t know that was possible...

FBM – And near the passage there are singularities.

SBM – Singularities?

FBM – Yes! Failures of continuity. The map doesn’t match the territory. This territory is controlled by no one, but when you cross from one side to the other, a transition is exposed. (cruel) She’s probably somewhere around here, and if you cross, she might attack you.

SBM (terrified)– Why did you bring me here?

FBM – Oh... for a moment I thought you wished to see.

SBM – To see? What do you mean, to see? Here I don’t see anything, man!

FBM – You see more than you can see back home, my friend. Here all illusions belong to us. No one injects anything into your mind.

SBM – You prefer to never see anything again?

FBM – What would I want to see? All I see, all I hear, the pain I feel, the pleasure... none of it is real.

SBM – My face... the people... the colours...

FBM – Don't you understand? We are blind! Blind! This... this sight of ours is artificial! Do you really believe it's reality? If those who see naturally can’t see what they are looking at, imagine those who never saw anything at all!

SBM – But… this is absurd… who… who controls all this?

FBM – Nobody.

SBM – Nobody?

FBM – I don’t know. But you don’t need anyone controlling it. Multitudes of blind people run towards the cliff and each one of them believes the other one knows where they're going. They share the same illusions, and they think those illusions are reality. If you are not deluded you can only be blind, like us, otherwise, you are probably mad.

(A sound, as if someone were roaring softly. They turn off their canes.)

SBM – What was that? (afraid) Is it her?

FBM – I don’t know... I feel something... pulsating.

SBM – Pulsating?

FBM – Yes! Hear it!

(Dark.)

3

(Two blind men, somewhere on stage.)

SECOND BLIND MAN – How quiet... It’s still not the storm.

FIRST BLIND MAN – Maybe thunder, far away.

SBM – Someone may have crossed the passage... maybe… someone may have been attacked.

FBM – Maybe.

SBM – She might be here!

FBM – Maybe.

SBM (anxious) – I think... I… maybe It’s OK if I go home now... Can you take me to the tower?

FBM (can't believe it)– Oh, c'mon... do you really want to return?

SBM – If… if I don’t, where am I supposed to go? I can’t stay here forever!

FBM – Man... you never left this place.

SBM – What do you mean?

FBM – You are after an illusion! The truth is that you have never been anywhere else. Do you understand me?

SBM (nervous) – No!... I don’t understand!... It’s too much for me! I am… I am very confused! This is too complicated. My head hurts...

FBM – It’s OK. Calm down, calm down... I know it is not easy.

SBM – I think… I think I will go now.

FBM – Yes. Go. It is time.

SBM – Will you come with me?

FBM – No need.

SBM (hesitating) – But... What if she comes?

FBM – She is not coming any more.

SBM – How… how do you know?

(First Blind Man sings softly.)

SBM (terrified) – She’s already here!...

FBM – She always was.

SBM (panic) – Where?

FBM – Don’t ask me where... ask who.

SBM – Who?

FBM – Yes... Ask who. There is no space. All of this is your mind! Take a look at the mirror.

SBM – Mirror? What mirror? What’s in the mirror?

FBM – What you’ve been looking for all your life.

SBM – Who are you?

FBM – Yes... exactly! That's it!

SBM (confused) – I... I didn’t get it...

FBM (gives up) – Come... here... put on your eyes (helps him with his artificial eyes).

SBM – Please explain... please.... what is going on?

FBM (while he puts the eyes on Second Blind Man) – Nothing. Everything already happened.

SBM – Already happened?

FBM – Oh yes! It is night now. Very soon a new day will be born.

SBM – I can’t make any sense of your answers.

FBM – You don’t need to... that’s how the Universe works. It can only exist forever if Death does her job. (he turns the eyes on)

SBM (afraid) – Death...

FBM – Oh yes! (turns and starts to leave) Sometimes we are so involved with our own illusions that we don’t even notice her arrival. She was here all the time. Isn’t that true?

SBM – I... I can’t see anything!

FBM (leaving the stage) – There is nothing more to see.
(First Blind Man leaves the stage. When the Second Blind Man discovers he is alone, he moves toward the mirror, as if he could see it. On seeing his reflection, he pulls his eyes off.)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

I skipped 2005

I thought this blog was dead. Maybe it is, but it would be nice to see it change, after hibernating for so long. An effort to reestablish the original inspirations that lead to its creation may result in something readable, but I don't know if that is possible. Maybe I'll start with some fragments, like this one, or some translations from the blog in Portuguese. I don't really think this blog is dead. It's something like a coral. It seems dead, it doesn't move but sometimes it grows.