In the 5th edition, from the 1st to the 11th march, the International Theater Festival of São Paulo – MITsp presents a show case of productions by strong names of the international scene, expands the programs “Critical Views” and “Pedagogical Activities”, reaching regions outside of São Paulo city center, and launches a new axis: the MITbr – Platform Brazil.
Despite of the difficulties to maintain a festival in the context of economic and political instability affecting all sectors of the production chain, with a special impact on the field of culture, MITsp brought to the stage 43 shows from countries such as Chile, Argentina, France, Germany, Poland, Lebanon and South Africa since its first edition in 2014, reaching approximately 80 thousand spectators so far.
Antonio Araújo, director of Teatro da Vertigem and professor at the Performing Arts School of the University of São Paulo (ECA-USP), and Guilherme Marques, general director of the CIT-Ecum /International Theater Center Ecum, conceivers of the Festival and respectively artistic director and production director of MITsp, continue investing in shows and activities capable of questioning the boundaries between the performing arts and other languages. These artistic proposals aim to approach, in different ways, the complexity of the world which we live in.
All MITsp 2018 shows have never been presented in Brazil before – some directors are considered to be fundamental in the international panorama, however they had never shown their works in the country before. It is the case of this edition’s artist in focus, the French Joris Lacoste, who signed the opening show: Suit N 2. The director created the Speech Encyclopedia in 2007, a project involving professionals of several fields, among actors, musicians and linguists, to research about forms of speech. In Suit N 2, five performers reproduce words extracted from real contexts.
At age 74, the Polish Krystian Lupa, director of Woodcutters, is considered one of the great contemporary theater masters. The show is an adaptation of the novel by Thomas Bernhard and it reflects about freedom and the role of art. Lacoste, artist in focus, and Lupa will have a special program on the Critical Views and Pedagogical Activities axes, with public interviews and workshops, giving the Brazilian public the chance to deeply learn about the trajectory of both artists.
In the musical King Size, the Swiss Christoph Marthaler, a consolidated director in Europe, puts together music and dance in a play in which the repertoire goes from Schumann to The Jackson 5.
Swiss playwright and director Boris Nikitin alongside with the electronic musician and queer performer Julian Meding, put forward an enigmatic Hamlet, which mixes reality and fiction and is capable of arousing conflicting feelings in the spectator, sometimes complicity and sometimes repulsion.
Minefield comes from Argentina, directed by the writer, performer and director Lola Arias. Known for her work with documentary theater, the director takes on an episode that is still a wound in her country, the Falklands War (1982). The cast is composed by six war veterans, combatants on opposite sides, who are now working together, rebuilding and signifying their war experiences.
The destruction of the city of Palmyra by the Islamic State in 2015 was the starting point of this production. The performers Bertrand Lesca, French, and Nasi Voutsas, of Greek origin, play with the limits of humor, exploiting in a symbolically manner themes such as violence, revenge and destruction polices. Palmyra debuted at the Edinburgh Festival in 2017 and it was awarded the 2017 Total Theater Award for Innovation, Experimentation & Playing with Form. The show also received other prizes such as the Stockholm Fringe 2017 Grand Prix, the Mess Festival Prize (BE Festival) and the Best of BE Festival Award, as well as being included in “The Top 10 The Guardian’s Theater of 2017”.
Clandestine Country is a collaborative process of five directors and playwrights between the age 30 and 35: Florencia Lindner (Uruguay), Jorge Eiro (Argentina), Lucía Miranda (Spain), Maëlle Poésy (France) and Pedro Granato (Brazil). They met in 2014 during an art residency in New York and, since then, they have matured a show made with documentary records, which includes technological devices such as Skype and e-mail used in the making of the show.
Of the same generation as Clandestine Country’s creators, Selina Thompson always wondered about her origins. The artist departed from England, where she lives, to Ghana and Jamaica, to redo one of the slave trade routes, in search for answers to ancestral questions. salt. is the fruit of this journey, a journey to a past that Selina did not experience, but which was always present in her skin and, especially, in people’s reaction to her blackness.
The Esthetic & Political Thinking, one of the main branches of the Critical Views axis, will discuss “The status of art in contemporary Brazil: freedom, otherness, mediation”. Three roundtables, one dialogue and one masterclass will come from this main theme, examining the limits of art and censorship.
In addition to the usual activities such as the Crossing Dialogues, in which professionals of several fields of knowledge express their perspectives on the shows right after the performance; or the Ongoing Thought, a talk with the artists about their creative process for the shows and previous works, other events get highlighted. A dialogue between Joris Lacoste and Nuno Ramos – conceiver of the performance “We’ll See You Here”, held for 24 hours – will be held with the mediation of journalist and critic Maria Eugênia de Menezes. Krystian Lupa will be publicly interviewed by the director Aderbal Freire-Filho and by the actress, director and playwright Denise Stoklos, with Maria Eugênia de Menezes as mediator as well.
There will be several relevant launches during the festival, including the latin-american premier of the movie The Congo Tribunal, by the swiss director Milo Rau, originally a play and a movie that look into the war which has killed over six million in Congo. In literature, the N-1 label launches a Portuguese version of Critique of Black Reason, a fundamental text for understanding blackness, by Achille Mbembe, besides two books published in the Cordel format: The Burden of Race, by Achille Mbembe and Eu, um crioulo (Me, a creoule), by José Fernando Azevedo.
The shows, as usual in the MITsp, will be analyzed by a group of critics who work in different places in Brazil. The texts produced by them, will be distributed for free at the venues, one day after each premiere, and will be published on the festival’s website. On the last festival days, the critics will meet and debate about this edition’s program, in order to exchange ideas about the contemporary scene. The Cartografias magazine, also published since the first MITsp, has some novelties: two texts that find the bridges and relationships between the shows in the festival’s program, named “Traversing Texts”, and the publication of an annual Dossier. In this edition, the theme is “Performing Arts Curatorship”, an important reflection on a field that is rarely discussed in the country, by six different curators working in Brazil and in Europe.
For the first time, the Pedagogical Activities are spread beyond São Paulo’s city center and reach regions as Cidade Tiradentes and Brasilândia, consolidating the mission of promoting exchange between the creators of the shows that take part in the MITsp, special guests and Brazilian artists.
The German director Susanne Kennedy, who participated with her show Why Does Mr. R Run Amok? last year, comes back on this edition for an artistic residency focused on new forms of verbal languages allied to precise body and vocal expressions. Krystian Lupa, in Brazil for the first time, will share his creative process with 20 young actors and directors during five days of workshop. The directors Joris Lacoste, Lola Arias, Boris Nikitin, and the five creators of Clandestine Country: Florencia Lindner (Uruguay), Jorge Eiro (Argentina), Lucía Miranda (Spain), Maëlle Poésy (France) and Peter Granato (Brazil) also talk part in the Pedagogical Activities. Each workshop has a different scope, based on the work developed by each artist.
Performers Bertrand Lesca and Nasi Voutsas of the show Palmyra will conduct a two-day workshop using the main themes of their show, such as conflict, frustration and reaction to violence. For the first time in the MITsp, the activity will be carried out in a squat, the Aqualtune Independent Squat, the old Butantã School building, inhabited for the past two years by almost 30 families.
The director of the Heliopolis Theater Company (SP), Miguel Rocha, organizes a six-day theater lab aimed exclusively at immigrants and refugees. The intention is to give visibility to the art works made by foreigners who live in the country. The activity will be at Casa do Povo (House of the People), in Bom Retiro.
Other highlights are the workshops “Non-normativity: creative possibilities of expression“, with Swedish playwright and director Liv Elf Karlén, author of “Broader view: thoughts on gender curious performance” and “Feedback techniques and mediation of creative processes” by the Belgian Georg Weinand. The activity offers tools for professionals to improve their contribution when following the elaboration and development of a performance or spectacle. Two other workshops, one on non-verbal poetics and another on social interaction and urban performativity, will be offered by Brazilian artists.
There is also the workshop led by the artist and producer Iva Horvat, who will discuss the internationalization of shows. This initiative is related to the new axis of MITsp, MITbr – Plataforma Brasil.
Other than the shows, the Critical Views and the Pedagogical Activities, the MITbr – Platform Brazil becomes a new axis of MITsp. Since the festival’s first edition, Antonio Araújo and Guilherme Marques thought about how they could promote international visibility for the national theater production. Only now could the initiative begin to be accomplished.
Curated by Christine Greiner, Felipe de Assis and Welington Andrade, MITbr will operate in this first year on an experimental basis, as a pilot project with 11 theater, dance and performance productions. The program includes the shows: Crab Overdrive (Aquela Cia. De Theatro, Rio de Janeiro – RJ), Spilt Milk (Club Noir, São Paulo – SP), Denmark (Magiluth Group, Recife – PE), Chant for Rhinos and Men (Teatro do Osso, São Paulo – SP), Dazed Flesh (Grace Passô, Belo Horizonte – MG), Mariana Hotel (Munir Pedrosa, São Paulo – SP), We Are Someone Else Being Not Injured (Carolina Mendonça, São Paulo – SP), DAN’s DNA (Maikon K, Curitiba – PR), Made of Flesh and Concrete (Anti Status Quo Dance Company Group, Brasília – DF), Procedure 2 To Nowhere (Vera Sala, São Paulo- SP), The Immured Lady from the New Street (Eliana de Santana, São Paulo – SP) and also the open rehearsals of the shows Unpredictable (Núcleo de Improvisação / Zélia Monteiro, São Paulo – SP) and Laughter (Key Zetta and Cia, São Paulo – SP). Curators of national and international festivals and general public will attend the presentations.