Man has always felt the need to represent the world with anima and symbols. Unlike the Western world, in South-East Asian civilizations – where for a longer period of time the worship of deities remained associated with the existence of Man and his relation with natural phenomena – theatre had a deeply sacred feature. Representation is thus an offering from man to the supernatural in exchange for divine protection for his existence on Earth. In this spirit, eastern theatre philosophy denies “realistic” representation, justifying the appearance of theatrical forms in which the actor is assumedly depersonalized – by the use of gestural codes or by the use of indirect representation and intermediate objects – masks, shadows, puppets.
Millennia after the birth of the theatre of animated figures, especially shadow theatre, these seem to constitute a theatrical genre of urgent actuality. Perhaps it’s one of the ways for Theatre to find its own language again, its magic, its spiritual essence, permanently distancing itself from the audiovisual languages that overwhelm our existence. Curiously, the main characteristic of Shadow Theatre – the immateriality of the image that interposes itself in the relation actor / audience – makes us find in it the theatre form closest to the cinematographic language. But even here, Theatre imposes itself and distances itself as a collective and present action that unifies Man in time and space.
In the conception of this performance, there was often a recapture of elements of Portuguese culture that are impregnated with theatricality: from the popular tale to the exorcist rituals of the masqueraders of the north-east of Portugal and the festive nostalgia of the tamborileiro. From a technical point of view, the shadows and scenic device are inspired by the ancient Chinese Shadow Theatre. Figures once made from the skin of sacred animals are now made of plastic material, the huge bamboo logs are replaced by pine wood.
Even today, reviving Shadow Theatre is unraveling the ancestral secrets of day and night, of light and shadow, of human nature perpetuated in the Platonic allegory. The moon is the eternal travel companion to the realm of dreams and the unreal, without limits in time or space.