“Our purpose is to cause strangeness”

brasilobserver - Sep 18 2015

(Leia em Português)


Neverwhere Beckett, created by the Café Cachorro Company from Rio de Janeiro, represents Brazil in London’s CASA Latin American Theatre Festival


By Guilherme Reis

Three actors. Two modules. One chair. Some objects. On the white square serving as a floor, figures and forms are in movement. The light becomes shadow and the sound, silence. In this space/time the unspeakable can happen: the bodies create.

Neverwhere Beckett is an experimental play freely inspired by the life and work of the Irish writer Samuel Beckett. “It’s like the three of us had entered in the mind of Beckett looking for this space, seeing fragments, memories and things that would be possible within that world of his creative mind. It’s like we had launched light in the darkness of Beckett’s thoughts,” explained Leandro Fernandes, actor and director, in an interview with Brasil Observer.

Bruno Paiva and Leonardo Bastos complete the troupe. “The company is three of us: actors, directors, everything,” said Leandro, not forgetting to mention some contributors who have made the play come alive, such as illuminators João Marcelo Pallottino and Ricardo Grings, costume designers Daniela Sant’Mor and Stephany Simões, who will be with the three actors/directors during the trip to London.

On the invitation to be at CASA Festival, Leandro said: “In 2012 I was in London and received a flyer from CASA on the street. So I kept it, I had even forgotten about it. Two years later we were already doing the show and started to apply in all the festivals we could, in Europe as well. We were eyeing CASA news, signed the play up and soon Daniel Goldman [artistic director] contacted us”.



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Driven by an immense passion by Samuel Beckett, the three did extensive research through the study of his novels, plays, short plays, poems, and his biography by James Knowlson, letters, theory books, essays and other significant references. “We got some things we identified as his creation features – forms, ways to explore the objects, figures, space, and time – and of course we linked all of this to our forms, our theatrical baggage,” said Leonardo Bastos.

The result: a 45-minute play that flirts with dance and visual arts. There is no talking in the show, no verbal text but a Samuel Beckett recorded speech. Everything revolves around the movement of the actors, the presence and experience of time and space, in a process that goes to the void, the idea of ​​scarcity. “We call our process ‘work in regress’, due to the removal of elements,” explained Leonardo.

The lack of speech, by the way, is a positive factor if we think the public of CASA Festival does not necessarily understand the Portuguese language. Neverwhere Beckett’s language is universal. It is a play of shapes, the poetry of the body in space, form as content and vice versa, aesthetics as a political act in itself.

On what they expect of the presentations in London, Bruno Paiva commented: “We have a very high expectation to see how the public reaction will be, because it is a different audience. But here in Brazil we also presented the play for different audiences. In São Paulo, for example, we heard many things. A girl said she was very angry with us, saying, ‘when I was beginning to understand something you deconstructed everything”. Someone else said, ‘for me you are not the protagonists of the play, for me the protagonists are the modules that you use.’” For Leonardo Bastos, “it’s hard to explain because it is not something that is to be understood, but something that you just feel”. “Our purpose is to cause this strangeness, a feeling that comes from contemplating the dynamic that is placed,” said Leandro Fernandes.



Taking advantage of the political tone that always permeates CASA Festival editions, I questioned the three members of the Café Cachorro Company on how they see the current moment experienced by Brazil. I told them I had just read an article by Fernando Gabeira, on the website of O Globo newspaper entitled “Dilma on the theatre of the absurd” and would like to know their personal opinion about it.

Leonardo Bastos began: “I find it interesting because when the term Theatre of the Absurd arises, it gives that feeling removed from reality, it reads things that are happening on stage as absurd things just because they are not part of the theatre that was in vogue at the time. We like Beckett because we identify in his work our feelings, our desires, much more real than absurd. So doing this parallel with Dilma I think we’re a bit in this place that looks like it’s absurd, but that’s because now it is closer to reality. Corruption has always existed in that dark place, far away from us, but now it is no longer an absurd, it is closer. Then we see the strangeness, the revolt…”

“There are several layers in this discussion. Protests on the beach of Copacabana, for example, brought some strange situations in which the people themselves have been more absurd than the nonsense that is going on, because they do not know exactly what’s going on or for what reasons they are there,” opined Bruno Paiva.

Leandro Fernandes summed up: “We are in a cleaning process that will go a lot further, because it is the only way to reorganize society, but we are still in the phase of confusion.”

Nonsense aside, there is hope. “It’s very interesting to think, despite everything, how people are creating a network of mobilization for a resistance that always exists. In the middle of all this chaos lots of light emerged, people coming together. You see a crisis of conscience in every corner,” said Leandro.

Back to the play, Nerverwhere Beckett is justified, in the words of the creators, as follows: “That’s what we have. Immeasurable happiness in front of the chaos of possibilities. It is necessary to delight that. Never find the place of things. Not knowing what to do and still do it. Create. Give form to ideas. Try! How much beauty in these failed attempts. Finding the source inside the other. Back to the lonely trail. Share this loneliness. Go. Keep going. Out of the shallow water. Enter the mystery. One way to WHERE and NEVER. Never know. Yet ask. Ask with the body. Love. Rigor. Freedom. Theatre.”



When: 8-9 October

Where: Rich Mix (35-47 Bethnal Green Rd, E1 6LA)

Entrance: £12 adv.; £15 door

Info: www.casafestival.org.uk

Brasil Observer is a Brazilian newspaper published in London. Read issue 31.