Peça do Coração: EXCALIBUR
Peça do Coração: EXCALIBUR appears because of the play Peça do Coração: FOR HIM (2012). PEÇA DO CORAÇÃO is a project that the dancer, choreographer, and performer Mariana Tengner Barros intends to develop forever. The goal is to cyclically recreate the initial concept of the project born in 2008. That is, to explore the dynamics of solo and chorus, the multiple relationships between singularity and plurality, and the polysemy of the word “heart”, from its iconographic staging as a representation of passion and love, to its vital function as a “body’s pump”. Peça do Coração: EXCALIBUR is directed by Mariana Tengner Barros, and produced in collaboration with graphic artist Mark Angelo and the team of A Bela Associação.
The word EXCALIBUR had already been used in a workshop by Mariana Tengner Barros. In an interview with Coffepaste, she explains what this sword represents to her: “Excalibur is the sword of King Arthur, pinned to a stone from which no one can remove it, which is given by the Lady of the Lake. There is an esoteric and metaphorical part that interests me, associated with a hope that can bring changes, a new perspective on the world, and a new way of living in it… Basically, it is a metaphor, also associated with the will to remind people that those fantasies can be interpreted differently. It is an attempt to use a symbol (Excalibur) as a lever of strength and hope”.
Peça do Coração: EXCALIBUR is a hybrid object, composed of several fragments of the creative process called Invisible Forest. These fragments are a consequence of the mapping of the oldest trees in the Greater Lisbon area (Alcântara, Lumiar, Loures and Benfica). Some of these fragments are images (photography and video) that are projected during the play, suggesting a constant presence of the ninjas during the performance. According to the actors, the Invisible Forest is “an autonomous and mobile performance space”. The image of the Invisible Forest helps us to understand the subjectivity of the ninjas: possible guardians or warriors of the forests. The underground network of the forests is essential for the formation of ecosystems, the sub-terrestrial communication of roots and fungi is fundamental for the formation of life in Nature. This network could be one of the images of the Invisible Forest. Mariana Tegner Barros invites the public to open their senses while trying to give visibility to the invisible, sound to silence, form and meaning to the unknown.
The performance begins with the ninjas entering the room. They move forward and occupy the lateral stairs. With their faces covered, dressed in black, and carrying flags with serigraphy-printed symbols. Just like the ninjas, music is always present throughout the performance. On the one hand, there are sound effects and atmospheric sounds; on the other, the rhythm of the beat that triggers the action. The dancers are half-naked with body parts stained with black, moving between and with the earth that is on the ground. The choreography starts from the ground – as if they were emerging from the underground, from the Invisible Forest. They come into contact with each other, giving clues for the next movement. However, the bodies’ relationships in this performance are not limited to this. We also see choreographies (apparently) focused on them and their relationship with space, i.e., choreographies that are ultimately isolated. The power of scenic space is constructed by uniting these various singularities, with new possibilities of a relationship between the different movements and sounds, in a subjective sharing of the performative experience.
Throughout the play, we hear a voice indicating a time and the different phases we go through. Simultaneously, sentences are screened, explaining those same phases. In one of them, the goddess Kali is invoked. Kali is indispensable for the eradication of the demons of Raktabija, the demon who was reborn whenever a drop of his blood fell to the ground. Shiva and Dura tried to kill the demons of Raktabija but failed. Desperate, Kali appears to help them. Kali strategically cut off the demons’ heads and licked their blood, not letting it fall to the ground. In this way, the demons of Raktabija were eliminated. Raktabija’s demons can be an image for the “demon” that torments the forests and is mentioned directly and indirectly throughout the play: the fires. Pyromaniacs and bonfires are the major cause of fires in Portugal, and the main reason for national deforestation. The demon is in us. It is necessary to change to fight this scourge. This change demands a different way of acting, thinking, relating to the world and Nature. The image of Excalibur for Mariana Tengner Barros represents this: a new way of being through the multiple relationships between uniqueness and plurality, a new perspective of the world, and a new way of inhabiting it.
The final scenes of the show are a broom-based interplay, sweeping the earth used during the performance. Performers on roller skates, each with their broom, fight for a ball of wool as if it were a hockey game. This image is even more suggestive due to the narration and commentary made by two performers. The scene takes us to the childhood imagination, the infant’s body, and the importance of playing in our interaction with the world. The play ends with one of the performers sweeping the land scattered across the stage, implying that he is sweeping the ashes of the burning forest, the ashes that will feed the Invisible Forest.