Departures and Arrivals

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The spiraled dualism of Marlene Monteiro Freitas
Rita Natálio

In “The Way of the Masks”, Lévi-Strauss suggests that masks “cannot be interpreted in and by themselves as separate objects”. A mask is not a representation, nor is she the real face of the user, but it transforms what it the mask isn’t, i.e., a ritual mask is always in relationship with other masks and with the general collective use of masks.

In the work “Bacchae - Prelude to a purgue” by Marlene Monteiro Freitas, departing from Euripedes tragedy, we are also confronted with a dynamics which is connected with what is out of our visual and semantical field. Tragedy, narrative, or perhaps the decay of tragedy through Niezstche’s eyes, or even Apolonian and Dionysian dichotomies, and Agave carrying the head of his son, dance in the back of our heads, while the stage convokes a non-linear and a non-verbal experience that is not directly linked with the play of Euripedes.

As painful and structural as the origin of tragedy may be, the staging of “Bacchae” by Marlene Monteiro Freitas is firmly engaged with a fragmented consciousness and it proposes a flow of associative freedom that postpones the rationality of interpretation. The history of tragedy is thus paradoxically convoked and dissolved. The rhythmical sequence of scenes, objects, scripts and modes of expression is much more evident than any narrative or comparison with the structure of Euripedes. The objectivity of props and the multiplicity of its uses on stage (stools and music stands are windows for a parallel world of dreams) is much more relevant for dramaturgy than Pentheus or Agave.

Tragedy is not figurative, because it is disputed through paradox and dissent between modes of expression and faces. Chorus and coryphaeus dwell in an immanent and continuous “ménage” à trois between expressionism, clown techniques and Chaplinian walks, which are part of Marlene’s aesthetics in previous works.

One might say that the aesthetic cosmology of “Bacchae” is one where “God created men to play the trumpet”, one of the headlines of the program that is distributed to spectators. “Bacchae” is not a piece with characters and psychological treats, it is a libidinous landscape where we are free to evoke the seven trumpets of the Apocalypse or to imagine trumpets as shotguns and penises.

Trumpeters and dancers perform together with no real separation between the ones who play and the ones who dance, they perform together in a dreamland against the expectation of a narrative and against the normativity of a classic concert. Performers are, at a time, masters and puppets of sounds, dance movements, grotesque faces, theatrical gestures and musical composition. They build a ever-evolving landscape of desire, a spiraled dualism between Apolo and Dionisios, Brazilian funk and Bolero de Ravel, music and dance, the new-born and the mother giving birth.

[DNA] Departures and Arrivals is happy to be part of this project, co-produced by our partners HAU, SPRING an the HELLENIC FESTIVAL!