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Sweet Home Europa or the world’s seesaw by João Pedro Mamede

The stage could be a battlefield, the congress centre of a world summit, a business meeting room, the email inbox from an international organization, the floor of a family kitchen or the bed shared by a couple.

Stepping on it a man – several men and a woman – several women, and the other – all others.

Uniting and separating them there is the perpetual motion of the seesaw, which, between opposing sides, guarantees the balance of the world: the settler and the colonizer, the oppressor and the oppressed, the autochthonous and the migrant or the refugee, the fisherman and the farmer, the father and the son, the man and the woman, the cat and the owner, the one who asks and the one does not want to give.

The time is the one of universal history, in cycles that are repeated ad aeternum.

The place is where the participants of their countries can watch the same sea. Based on the title of the work that João Pedro Mamede interprets here – Sweet Home Europa, by Davide Carevalli (2011) – we would eventually talk about the Mediterranean, but I don’t consider this to be relevant: Sweet Home Europa uncovers the struggle of understanding and communication that the man or the woman have with one another, in any field – politics, culture, love – and the advantage that one takes from that in the demagogy of negotiations, in the simulation of understandings or in the concealing of the lack thereof.

When the other explains how, in every autumn Friday, in his country, women stuff a pumpkin in their asses, he is not just making a metaphor for the acculturation process, but also testing our level of prejudice compared to what we are unaware of. In the world of permanent transit and trade which is the contemporary one, João Pedro Mamede, João Vicente and Isabel Costa raise our awareness to the lack of ability and/or willingness that the man has in the acceptance of the other and the fine line that divides them before the fear of the abyss, which separates the things one knows and those one does not.

On a tilted stage coated with nails – scenery of Ângela Rocha –, the cyclical movement of the scenes constructs the imbalance and the aridity of repeated story(s) under dialogs that are stepped over, again and again, until they are no more than an echo that conveys the evidence that everything is still far away, so far away, and nobody hears you. From where do we come from and where are we heading to, anyway?

Integrated in the program Portugal em Vias de Extinção of Teatro Nacional D. Maria II, Sweet Home Europa also dwells on the collective consciousness and the significance of the traditions passed down from generation to generation. It speaks of those who leave their homeland, becoming the other forever and everywhere: in the place where he finds lodging and in the land he left behind.

João Pedro Mamede, in turn, as an actor and filmmaker, with only 26 years old, becomes the man and the other that we are eager to see filling the next stage, as he knows so well.

 

Home Sweet Europa will be on stage in Sala Estúdio of Teatro Nacional D. Maria II until 27 March, with performances on Wednesdays at 7.30 pm, from Thursday to Saturday at 9 pm, and on Sundays at 4.30 pm. The tour throughout the rest of the country starts on 6 April, with performances in Vila Real (6 April), Sardoal (14 April), Funchal (26 May) and Portimão (30 June).

Zara Ferreira is an architect living in Alfama, Lisbon. She was a researcher in the EWV_Visões Cruzadas dos Mundos [Crossed Visions of the Worlds], collaborated with the architecture studio Tetractys Arquitectos and participated in the Portuguese representation at the 14th International Exhibition of Architecture, Venice Biennale, 2014, also as copy-editor of the Journal Homeland-News from Portugal. From 2014 to 2018, she was general-secretary of Docomomo International (the International Committee for Documentation and Conservation of Buildings, Sites and Neighbourhoods of the Modern Movement) and co-editor of Docomomo Journal. Between Lisbon (IST) and Lausanne (EPFL), she's currently developing her PhD on preservation strategies of housing sites after the post WWII in Europe. In the spare time she dedicates herself to travelling, theatre, writing, photography and whatever the destiny offers her.

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