From an original idea by Eric de Sarria
The man has fallen. The skull opens. Time expands.
What is left of the the memory fades away on the floor. He has just lost the notion of future, only the past and his automatisms remain.
He was an actor, without the basis of theatre – a puppeteer?
His life is nothing more than the ruins of memory, and it is fragmented, divided in 4 characters. In the moments when everything is constructed and reconstructed as easily, the borders between worlds become even more permeable. The space of the stage is the inner space inhabited by the 4 characters coming from the unconscious, but captured in the world of stage acting.
Edgard Fernandes, Eric de Sarria, Isabel Barros, Rui Queiroz de Matos, Sara Henriques and Shirley Resende
@c (Pedro Tudela e Miguel Carvalhais)
marionettes and scenic objects
Rui Pedro Rodrigues and Filipe Garcia
Rui Pedro Rodrigues
Edgard Fernandes, Rui Queiroz de Matos, Sara Henriques and Shirley Resende
Rui Pedro Rodrigues
scenographic structure construction
Américo Castanheira, Tudo-Faço
marionette and prop construction
Rui Pedro Rodrigues and Filipe Garcia
Eugenia Piemontese and Cláudia Ribeiro
Teatro de Marionetas do Porto / TNSJ
João Paulo Seara Cardoso has died, but Teatro de Marionetas do Porto is still breathing: “Ovo” is the optimistic thought that the end can be the beginning.
In October 2010, when João Paulo Seara Cardoso died, the actors of Teatro de Marionetas do Porto (TMP) picked up the pieces and then continued to follow the transgressing path started in 1988 by the company’s founder. A year and a half later, now under the direction of choreographer Isabel Barros, “road companion” of the company, TMP shows the first sign of life after Seara Cardoso (so to speak, because he is embedded in the actors’ bodies, like a birthmark). Today is the premiere of “Ovo”, at the Monastery of São Bento da Vitória, and it will be performed for the next 26 days. “Ovo” is not only the usual statement that life goes on, it is truly life going on, as is usual after death. “To me, this is not the second life of TMP: it’s the same life, after a sudden shock. The works of João Paulo are still in circulation, so there’s an entire work that will be preserved, including in the museum that we’ll finally be able to open. And then there’s the creative work of the company, which will continue” says Isabel Barros. Still, this is clearly a play to be emphasized in the history of TMP: “the first performance in which João Paulo didn’t have a hand”, except for the metaphorical and literal sense of him being a “deus ex machina” (another word for this: the puppeteer) behind this “ovo”.
Because this performance is “the turning point” of the company, Isabel Barros wanted other worlds to coexist with the recognizable poetics of TMP, and even to “disturb it”. She immediately thought of Philippe Genty, founder of the landmark french company Philippe Genty, but he was ill. So she ended up working with Eric de Sarria, the current director of the company. The public, she admits, may express “some discomfort”, but that’s the spirit: “In real life there are also times of turbulence, there are peaks, there are changes.” These marionettes are definitely not the marionettes of Seara Cardoso. And yet, the way each interpreter and each marionette are one body, the way they make noise with some words and silence with other words, makes us recognize him. “It’s interesting that the actors showed no desire to go back and look for ideas, but it’s inevitable that the past shows up. The way João Paulo worked with them over the years was so deep (he was a master in the true meaning of the word) that this heritage, this school, is still very present”, says the company’s artistic director.
After the first meetings with TMP, Eric de Sarria allowed the company to work “with total freedom” on his script of ideas. “It was a true work of co-creation, which is also new to us. But the truth is that when we met, we realized that, because of Philippe Genty being ill, Eric is in the same situation as the actors of TMP: in a situation of someone who has been given a lot and wonders: “and now what?”, says Isabel Barros. Together, Sarria and the company were confronted with the issues of life and death, the beginning, the new beginning and the end, the past, the present and the future, in short, the chicken and the egg. The actors were supposed “to eat eggs, to fry eggs, to boil eggs, but in the end the egg became something more symbolic.” In the Monastery of São Bento da Vitória, “Ovo” (egg) is the tiny white ball a marionette plays football with, and the huge belly of a pregnant marionette; the egg is the UFO in a vegetable salad and a powerful metaphor of time, on this performance where the company tries to organize chaos (the phrase is repeated like a mantra in a key moment of the play). After all, “he is invisible and that’s good”, says one of the characters in the performance.
Inês Nadais, in Público 2012-02-10
Teatro de Marionetas comes back with “Ovo”
Today at 21h30 is the premiere of “Ovo” at the Monastery of São Bento da Vitória, Porto. The play is created from an original idea of Eric de Sarria and co-produced by Teatro de Marionetas do Porto and by Teatro Nacional de São João. It will be performed until 26th February.
This is the first performance of Teatro de Marionetas do Porto without João Paulo Seara Cardoso, founder of the company and deceased in 2012.
On stage there are four actors, a giant marionette and four blue panels. Everything happens there. The story begins with a man falling – an actor, a puppeteer. Meanwhile, his skull opens and his memory breaks apart, fades away on the floor. From then on, he loses the notion of future and only the past remains.
His life is nothing more than the fragmented ruins of memory, reconstructed by the four characters. After that, there are moments when everything happens really fast, when everything is constructed and reconstructed, where the borders between worlds are created and destroyed.
“Ovo” was created from a text by Eric de Sarria – one of the closest co-workers of the French puppeteer Philippe Genty – and carries within an idea of a new beginning. Isabel Barros, co-producer, thinks “this play is a consequence of opposites coming together, of differences truly strong and fragile, holding the essence”. On the other hand, she admits that in this work “marionettes don’t speak, they are at their purest condition, they are like mute angels, creatures that make us travel between the real and the imaginary”. “Ovo” is a sort of journey to different worlds that simultaneously connect or disconnect and walk the paths between fiction and real. The sober text and the simple scenery are appropriate for the work of the four actors.
“Ovo” is a creation of Edgard Fernandes, Eric de Sarria, Isabel Barros, Rui Queiroz de Matos, Sara Henriques and Shirley Resende.
Agostinho Santos, in Jornal de Notícias 2012-02-10
The beginning, again, once more
By Teatro de Marionetas do Porto, from an idea of Eric de Sarria. Mosteiro de São Bento da Vitória, Porto, 18th February, 21h30. Full room. Until the 26th.
There is an immense fragility in Ovo that makes it touching. This is natural, and it’s a good thing. The first play of Teatro de Marionetas do Porto after the death of its founder and artistic director João Paulo Seara Cardoso, in 2010, is the beginning of a new phase, with the legacy of the most important figure of marionette theatre in Portugal. In the play, we identify the continuous dialogue between the marionette and its manipulator, consisting of breathings and movements, as well as a work of deep relationship between images and words, which offer different and abundant interpretations.
In this performance, the presence of choreographer Isabel Barros – the artistic director of Teatro de Marionetas do Porto – gives prominence to the physical and choreographical dimension, and simultaneously the marionette is given a dreamlike dimension, becoming almost diluted or at least multiplied in several forms, elements and objects.
It’s not possible yet (and it’s not desirable) to foresee the creative future of Teatro de Marionetas do Porto. Still, Ovo reveals a huge desire to take further the idea of a theatre made of the meeting (not the juxtaposition) of the marionette’s distinct performances.
Aware of the danger of this formula, the creators of TMP enter a creative whirlpool that is reformulated by the work of Philippe Genty – represented by his most intimate co-worker Eric de Sarria – marked by the free association style.
The boxes through which they speak, the platforms where images are projected, the hands transformed into marionettes, the arrangement of the bodies, are doorways to a universe still undefined, in evident questioning, and that wishes to become public, which is good.
The path followed is not always evident, in each of the sequences that, as a whole, ponder on the similarities between the idea of a beginning and the idea of an ending. And we can’t always understand what they are saying, because of the monastery acoustics, but also due to the actors’ elocution. It is true that Genty’s imagetic theatre, with its poetical, un-naturalistic dimension, has some trouble exchanging ideas with TMP’s typically detailed dramaturgy, but it’s also true that Ovo took from these two universes a desire for a visual and simultaneously physical experience. The nostalgic way the actors’ bodies are longing for the marionettes’ bodies, transforming this journey in an emotional experience, comes forward in moments of deep research on the results of a collective experience from individual differences.
This is when Ovo becomes touching, while exposing a process of (re-)discovery, of (re-)learning, of (re-)construction and making essential what Eric de Sarria calls the guaranty of contemporaneity: “The deliverance of the language of the Other – the “Father”? – and the statement of one’s own language, once the previous demons are beaten”.
Tiago Bartolomeu Costa, in Público 2012-02-21