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Highlights: Alkantara Festival May 21- June 9, 2010 (Portugal)

Alkantara Festival May 21- June 9, 2010 (Portugal)

Alkantara is built on the foundations of Danças na Cidade, a dance platform established in 1993.

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Danças na Cidade was particularly engaged in the promotion of national and international contemporary dance, encouraging encounters and dialogue between artists. The platform’s flagship initiatives were the festival of the same name (1993-2004) and the collaborative projects of Dançar o Que é Nosso (begun in 1998).

The change of name in 2005 breathed new life into the association: alkantara confirmed its position of promoter of the performing arts on an international scale, and the alkantara festival (2006 and 2008) affirmed its relevance and consolidated its co-production capacity.

In addition to its festival, alkantara pursues its objectives by promoting many meetings, residencies, and national and international co-productions. Because transversality and accessibility are at the core of what alkantara signifies, these activities are complimented by education and outreach initiatives, designed to build new bridges to contemporary art.


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“Hot Pepper, Air Conditioner, and The Farewell Speech,” is, in the words of its author Toshiki Okada, ‘a contemporary drama about temporary workers.’ It is a triptych, set in an office, where everything revolves around Erika, a female temp staffer soon to be laid off as a result of the current recession.

In “Hot Pepper,” employees consult a widely cir- culated coupon magazine called “Hot Pepper” seeking a suitable restaurant for their colleague Erica’s farewell party. She has just been informed that her contract will soon be terminated.

“Air Conditioner” enacts a conversation between two contracted workers – a man and a woman who do not share the anxiety that Erika’s firing has caused among the temp staffers. During the entire scene, the woman complains that the air conditioning in their office is set too low, while the man expresses his sympathy for his coworker. Finally, “The Farewell Speech” dramatizes Erika’s last words, spoken 5 minutes before the end of the very last day of her contract. The speech is given in front of all the staff as they gather to bid her farewell.

Toshiki Okada gained fame in Japan with his the- ater productions that combine a hyper-colloquial Japanese with a very specific way of moving around on stage. In “Air Conditioner,” for instance, movement represents an almost absurd tension or gap between two different kinds of physicality: gestures as acting, on the one hand, and physical movements that respond to background music, on the other. Okada founded the Chelfitsch Theatre Company (after a deliberate mispronunciation of the English word ‘selfish’) in the late nineties. He writes and directs all of its productions.



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On stage: five Chinese citizens, determined to open their hearts to the public. The only language they speak is Mandarin, but they are convinced this should not stand in the way of a fruitful exchange with the audience.

Using the wide range of possibilities of theatrical expression, they teach us basic oral comprehension of the Mandarin language, just enough to understand the gradually unfolding narrative: a story fuelled by dormant troubles and unresolved dilemmas involving the intertwined personal histories of the performers.

An extended family of five people, whose lives have been inextricably linked, confronts the question, ‘Where did it all go wrong for us?’ The performers call upon the audience to bear witness as they untangle the knots of an uncomfortable truth. It is vital for each performer to tell his or her version of this truth, to clarify his or her role in the events. They all want to figure out for themselves what exactly happened and where to go from here.

In essence, “C’est du chinois” is about communication – a communication that is basically impossible, but which nevertheless comes into being through the common effort of players and spectators. Starting at zero, they create something together – the possibility of a personal encounter, of an intimate, face-to-face meeting.

Edit Kaldor was born in Budapest. She immigrated as a child to the United States, where she then lived for ten years. She studied literature and theatre at Columbia University and worked as a dramaturge and video-maker with Peter Halasz (Squat theater/Love theater, New York). After enrolling at DasArts (the postgraduate performing arts center in Amsterdam), she started writing and directing her own theatre work and quickly received international acclaim. In recent years her daring, existential theatre performances, which often integrate the use of documentary elements, have toured widely in Europe and beyond.

vamos sentir falta de tudo aquilo de que não precisamos

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Etymologically, the word ‘object’ denotes the idea that an object is something that is placed before us, something that exists or that is meant to be seen. “vamos sentir falta de tudo aquilo de que não precisamos” (“we are going to miss everything we don’t need”) presents objects of the world. A rebound effect and an unexpected unveiling of meaning(s) develop between these objects and those who manipulate them. And thus a triangle emerges between the objects, those who manipulate them, and the spectator – a tension that pushes the boundaries of ideas and sensations towards the vibrating force of symbols.

Faced with these objects, ideas become paths to other ideas, and as on all paths, there are passages that widen, narrow and bifurcate. We can follow these trails with different rhythms and breathing patterns, as if thoughts were shaped by the way they pulsate and clash.

In contact and short-circuiting, these objects of the everyday world are somewhere between the material and the ethereal, the quotidian and the dreamlike, the generic and the exceptional. And it might be precisely in this rearrangement of our everyday world – this world of generic objects, production, consumption and waste – that we can touch another side of things.

(Rita Natálio)

Together with Christophe Ives, Marcela Levi, Miguel Pereira, Rita Natálio, Nadia Lauro e Andrea Parkins, Vera Mantero distilled this very unusual parade out of months of reading, watching and listening, reflecting and conversing. “vamos sentir falta de tudo aquilo de que não precisamos” is a game of associations, sometimes explicit, sometimes cryp- tic, playful or uncomfortable, tangible or volatile. It triggers many questions, answers hardly any. One year after its premiere in Essen and Montpel- lier in 2009, Vera Mantero and guests will finally present this work in Portugal.

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Caden Manson is Editor In Chief and Curator of Contemporary Performance Network and co-founder and artistic director of Big Art Group, a New York City performance company founded in 1999.
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