domingo, janeiro 11, 2015

The Transformative Power of Theatre: "Power and Desire"/"O poder e o desejo"

"O Poder e o Desejo" ("Power and Desire").

Yesterday I went to see a wonderful play in Lisbon written and directed by Álvaro Cordeiro: "O Poder e o Desejo" ("Power and Desire").

The Actors: Joana Oliveira, Paulo Vaz and Vicente Morais.

This is what theatre is all about. At least it's the one I much prefer: Text vs Silence vs Actors (forget about props, stage sets, etc).

I'm not going to discuss the play in itself. What interested me the most about it was the way it reminded me of a Shakespeare Play: It was all in the Word itself.

A long time ago I watched "The Tempest" in Lisbon directed by Tim Carroll from the English Shakespeare Company.  It was a transformative experience. To care about this kind of theatre is to make me care about the obsession with The Pause (aka "The Silence"). As with any worthwhile Shakespeare play it's all about the silence/pause. There must be a pause—a certain kind of pause, I insist—or all is lost. Cordeiro's play takes this theatre concept to heart, which isn't exactly common in our fast-food theatre plays that we get to see on stage most of the time nowadays. It's a case for Theaterumschulung in terms of the viewer....

Shakespeare for me is a way of life. When it began within me it was a kind of initiation into a new domain. What do I mean by domain in this context? It's a kind of realm of transcendence that I’ve sought with mixed success to return to ever after. It was the experience that, for me, gave a lifelong urgency to the conflicts over Shakespearean questions.

Sometimes I talk about how watching Shakespeare being performed on stage for the first time (in English) was such a transformative experience for me.  How I’ve spent the years since trying to recapture or at least explain to myself why that night was so transformative. I feel almost a bit embarrassed at making this kind of statement... It's something I haven’t recovered from. Ever since then I’ve been trying to recapture it, to explain what it was. Watching "O Poder e o Desejo" last night had a similar effect on me. I’m not sure my experience yesterday in Lisbon at Guilherme Cossoul went as deep as watching a Shakespeare play (I'm still processing it...), but I did feel my heart “report” something it never reported before when watching a play in Portuguese being performed on stage.

About Shakespeare and the Theatre in general I've written a lot in several venues (The British Council, The Goethe Institute, etc). My latest incursion into Shakespeare territory was with the close reading of the book "The Shakespeare Wars: Clashing Scholars, Public Fiascoes, Palace Coups" by Ron Rosenbaum", which is a wonderful text on what it means to always have Shakespeare close by your side...

I end this text with my favourite Shakespeare Sonnet, which I truly believe represents what my take on what Theatre should be all about:


 “O, learn to read what
silent love hath writ:/To hear with eyes
belongs to love’s fine wit.”
(Sonnet 23)

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