In the small «1st Act» theatre club of Algés, we work intensely on the organisation of a theatrical exercise, which presents unprecedented aspects important to us, and which gives the sympathetic theatre the daring aspect of an incipient laboratory- theatre. The exercise is titled «Nós Não Estamos Algures» [We are not somewhere], a phrase extracted from a passage of «Invenção do Dia Claro» [Invention of the Bright Day] by Almada Negreiros.
The exercise is based on this poem and on others, by so many modern poets, and should not be confused with neither a traditional theater session nor an ordinary recital. It is, as Ernesto de Sousa explained, about the work of staging, of increasing the poetic circulation, by experimenting with the most different means of communication. Poetry is thus communicated through objects, involvement and different sound treatments, including in the eruption of musical events, where a more or less rigorous structure is challenged by several improvised interventions. For this meticulous musical preparation, good intentions and especially the decided interventions of by composer Jorge Peixinho are paramount. The experimental and open nature of this manifestation is devised through the audiovisual and cinematographic communication by Carlos Gentil-Homem, the sculptural and lightning solutions largely led by Fernando Calhau as well as the interventions by the public (members and guests).
The main organisers fight against the traditional notion of spectacle, as an outdated and harmful form, because it generates growing habits of passivity in an audience increasingly neutralised by the mass media of this consumer society: which, in the Portuguese case, is further complicated by the traditions of a predominantly rural society that feels alienated from urban culture. In this sense, the coordinates of here and now coincide and reinforce the most current needs of modern art. And thus, this exercise challenges many things, specially the authors: it is an essentially open work, in which the joint effort prevails over individual contributions. This will be a struggle, not controversial, but simply operative, against the individualisms of authorship. As we are told, this struggle is already beginning to translate into concrete terms.
A choral work
One of the texts that is being elaborated on the ‘exercise’ reads: «One of the most fashionable notions when it comes to tackling a problem that characterises modern art, is participation. Posters can be completed by the visitor, exhibition visitors can modify sculptural objects, and in the theatres actors mix with spectators, inciting the latter to... take part in the show. At times these attempts are very naive. The limits of this participation are often too narrow and clear, and not always the work or function rises above the category of a mere gadget or easy game. Our exercise intends to assume, as should be, an effective participation of the spectator in the ‘event. We will encounter and deal with certain ‘naivety’, if necessary. As an exercise, there are ingenuities that must be experienced in order to get the better of the future. We know very little about the operative means to achieve certain ends. The ends, however, must be clear and precise, and as rigorous as our intention. We plan a choral work, to analyse within a laboratory, through extension and by living together in an enriching way.
We intend to destroy the individual loneliness –the one the viewer encounters in the theatre after having applauded the actors of any regular show. Therefore, our exercise does not end, or if wanted, ends every night, not in applause but in a supper, through which we intend to live an ever-different communication and togetherness».
Theatre and Cinema
Among the forms used in the exercise «Nós Não Estamos Algures» [We Are Not Somewhere], cinema assumes a place of importance, just like other forms of audiovisual communication alike, such as the successive and simultaneous projection of slides, etc. Also, we are told, the first part of the exercise, was conceived to be filmed and integrated into the film «Almada, um Nome de Guerra» [Almada, a War Name] that Ernesto de Sousa is producing. There is, therefore, one more extension of this work that does not intend to have one single and precise extension.
Ernesto de Sousa, in «Vida Mundial», suplement «Actualidade» no. 1588, 14th of November 1969.