Departures and Arrivals

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We don’t speak to be understood
Rita Natálio

There comes a time when we hear a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
And it's time to lend a hand to life
(“We are the world”)

In a time of frantic traveling, ecological dismantling and Mediterranean overload of refugees, “We don’t speak to be understood” presents us a quiet landscape where we can perhaps suspend our troubles, under the condition that we imagine quietness and harmony as a collective “Euro-ex-centric” right to every human and non-human being.

From the beginning of the piece, a vinyl record on stage, a Vivaldian concreteness, “Four Seasons” plays all along in the record player. Music is omnipresent, with Pieter Ampe & Benjamin Verdonk as two grown men drawing possible narratives and scenarios for this “Four Seasons”’s sequence in the most playful way. In comparison with the bigness of the music their gestures are small, objects are moved carefully, voices are delicate even when Ampe’s literal roars are combined with Verdonk’s literal sharp notes. Everything can be meaningless, if it were not for music and the strong bind between these two companions. Meaning is deprived from its central position in dramaturgy, because the relationship between Ampe and Verdonk is taken to an extreme sobriety, where the encounter between these two bodies is perhaps the most important question.

Winter, spring, summer and autumn are invoked with subtlety and discrete images. If we are drawn unwittingly to a space of illustration and counter-illustration of the music, it is because the power of European classical music takes us to a space of representation and history. That is the case when honey passes from one performer’s mouth to another, where the invocation of summer is a horizon of desire. But we are also confronted with a subterraneous flow of energy between two bodies, where we have to imagine a flow of honey invading friendship and European paradigms. In parallel to music, choreography belongs to details that open up the space for interpretation.

In “We don’t speak to be understood” the goal is not necessarily to illustrate classical music, even if Vivaldi is caught in the incessant and historical battle between infatuated forces, which manifest danger, the mystery of belief and desire (in short, Dionysian forces), and on the other hand, a rhythmic suitability to these forces bearing a framing, context and structure (Apollo’s forces, represented by the notion of choreography). It is not so much how this music is represented, but how classical and epic perspectives in musicality define our gaze towards bodies on stage and harmony, how these perspectives take our perception hostage, constraining our images of the world. The fragility of winter lived by Verdonk and Ampe on stage becomes an overwhelming symbol compared to the void that performers are truthfully invoking.

In the epilogue, a classic pop music (the famous “We are the world”) irrupts into the space and suddenly changes the pace we were in since the beginning. The scenario changes, everything is bigger, louder, faster, stronger, charity symbols are invoked, a self-indulgent parody about World’s Suffering is evoked, taking us back to the beginning: if we really want quietness to be achieved, we have to let go our European Fortress and open our four seasons to everybody.