Rehearsal for a Cartography: a hymn of resistance

The only words heard in Ensaio para uma Cartografia are the words recorded from Leonard Bernstein rehearsing the Ravel’s Bolero – “if you’re going to be a musician, you must really want to be a musician. Because this is only the beginning and it is a very difficult thing to do. And it is very easy to be a mediocre musician. It requires dedication, commitment. There are no words for this”.

And, indeed, there are not. Mónica Calle knew it.

20 women enter a room without a scenario. They bring violins, cellos and contrabasses. They get naked. They get together in the middle. They stare at the audience. Their bodies move, steadily, to Ravel’s sound. They are only one mass. Together, they seem to be marching. We do not know where they want to go. It does not matter. Their will is in their skin, organs, soul. The sweat drips down their bodies, wetting the ground. The muscles drawn by the contrast between light and dark reveal the physical test of limits. Sometimes, they play the orchestral instruments. They fail. They try again. Again and again. With strictness and a quest for consistency. A little more. Resiliently, they carry on. Without condescension. They overcome themselves. With a permanent balance between the whole and the parties, they do it as a team, even if the singularity of each one is blatantly clear: in the physiognomy, in the expression, in the resistance level, in the way to cope with the pain and in the way to reveal it or not. Their differences do not compromise the collective balance. They praise the courage in pursuit of a common goal.

Meanwhile the spectator’s throat is tightened and their heads become increasingly compressed. Their eyes do not blink. Sérgio Godinho’s voice – “What strength is this?” – attacks the thought. The audience, in solidarity with the real effort, obvious on the “stage”, moves their body to the rhythm of the actresses. Breaking the rules, they applaud the amazement in each act. The smell, the light and the absence of scenery make it clear that what we have is, as the title indicates, a rehearsal. Of theatre, dance, music? Anything beyond that, which my ignorance does not allow me to nominate. It is a rehearsal of courage and struggle, in pursuit of that superior force which is willingness. Always wanting more and better. “Be all in everything,” said Ricardo Reis.

“Then we go home and we will continue tomorrow,” said Bernstein. Damn. We know that this is the truth of our days, but Mónica Calle transforms this certainty into a living hymn of resistance.



 Ensaio para uma Cartografia is based on The Seven Deadly Sins of The Petty Bourgeoisie (1933) of Bertolt Brecht. Having started in 2014, it is a project that will end in 2021, going through a “cartography” which will define itself, through Portugal, over time. As in Brecht’s journey, that will encompass 7 years of travel in search of a new home, in this case motivated by the exit of the theatre company Casa Conveniente, led by Mónica Calle, of Cais do Sodré.

In the meantime, in Lisbon, it will be performed until 29 April, in Sala Estúdio of Teatro Nacional D. Maria II. Already sold out, there is a waiting list subject to any no-shows on that day.

This edition of Ensaio para uma Cartografia, with staging and scenery of Mónica Calle, is the outcome of a co-production of Casa Conveniente/Zona Não Vigiada and Teatro Nacional D. Maria II. It has the musical direction of maestro Rodrigo B. Camacho and the interpretation of Alexandra Viveiros, Ana Água, Brígida de Sousa, Carolina Varela, Cleo Tavares, Eufrosina Makengo, Inês Pereira, Inês Vaz, Joana Campelo, Joana de Verona, Lucília Raimundo, Mafalda Jara, Maria Inês Roque, Marta Félix, Míu Lapin, Mónica Calle, Mónica Garnel, Roxana Lugojan, Sílvia Barbeiro, Sofia Dinger and Sofia Vitória.

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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