O que teriam ouvido se estivessem calados, by Menino da Mãe

Menino da Mãe, musician and poet, presented on May 25th his first performance, O que teriam ouvir se estivessem calados, at NOVO NEGÓCIO/Galeria Zé dos Bois. The artistic co-direction, technical direction and light design are by Sebastião Pinto, the musical creation by António Silva (Sal Grosso) and Bruno Pereira (AIRES), the technical assistance by Lourenço Mascarenhas, and the sound technical assistance by Michael John Kelzo.

The darkness is absolute. Amid the penumbra, we see the musicians on stage and the Menino apart from it. He begins to recite his text. From the back of the room, words of a personal imagination are heard, dripping from a dark, sad, angry place: I am not weird, I do what I have; Anomaly is vice, Anomaly is what moves us; I am not weird, I do more than I have; Happiness arises in the in-between, unhappiness is our permanent state in itself; The dance of the horses that want to be. He moves from the back of the room toward the centre of the audience, throws himself on the floor and splashes magnesium against his now white-powdered face. His character takes on a saintly side, contrasting with the (heavy) atmosphere around him and the weighty words spoken. The music in this part of the performance is a metallic soundscape, a loop-driven drone, a repetitive trance. He only wears a harness and a white hooded sweatshirt, covering his body up to his sexual organs. He circles the audience creating a close but also intimidating atmosphere. Among several things, he exclaims: I should have ended this earlier, when it still looked like a joke. It was one of the moments in the performance where I felt the most empathy. During adolescence, rebellion is at its peak. We seek transgression, to assert our idiosyncrasies as if they were unique and unmatched, to make a difference. All this is often done through pins stuck in our ears and lips smeared with lipstick. Then comes the moment when we realize that the goal is not to force a certain position or to emphasize how far we are from the norm. We realize that this is who we are, that we are crazy, and that we just want to love and be loved. We wish we were “more normal” and think that there was a time when that was still possible, back in the day when everything still seemed like a joke.

Soon after, we see him constantly running away from the chasing spotlight, until the light loses him. In this action, the music becomes increasingly intense. There’s a dichotomy throughout the performance: while he wants to share his perception of the world, he runs away from the world he perceives, clashing with it. The light goes out and the performer attaches his harness to a rope, climbs a ladder and sits at the top. A spotlight shines on him and, in various shades, he begins to scream until he becomes voiceless. The intensity of the music moves toward the abyss, despair. Until he stands on the ladder, opens his arms and throws himself into the void. Suspended in the air, he begins a struggle with the microphone, shouting at it, trying to grab it while he kicks and moves agitatedly. A strobe keeps flashing this moment. The action seems to exhibit a solipsistic inner struggle. Somehow, it seems to give body to existential and philosophical questions that are in his head and that, deep down, are shared by all those who question their experience in a world. Something that, ultimately, no one knows what it is. Exhaustion is the quarrel’s winner and the performer eventually drops to the floor like a dead body. The light goes out again and the music builds up to a tension composed of noise sounds, trying to create a noxious, noisy, hard to bear environment. In the crescendo’s last phase, the performer appears on stage and joins the noise cacophony by beating a drumstick on a pad with a distorted kick. The light turns red with cut-outs.

The performance’s second part is a love declaration. The performer does not declare himself to his lover but displays his love for her by bawling out the words of the letter he wrote when she was admitted to the hospital. The words of love and affection are embedded in an atmosphere of destruction and the noise, metallic and distorted music, creating an interesting contrast to what is said. Even the way the text is recited falls under this paradox: the text is shouted and not read clearly.

In the last part of the performance, the music changes abruptly. It becomes a heavenly choir. Naked, he serenely strolls around the audience with a torn, forced messiah-like smile. He lies down in the center of the audience aisle and, after a short while, the lights start a fade-out that ends the show.

Rodrigo Fonseca (1995, Sintra). He studied at António Arroio, has a degree in History of Art and a master in Performing Arts from FCSH/UNL. He was co-founder of the publishing house CusCus Discus and of the festival Dia Aberto às Artes. Besides Umbigo magazine, he writes music criticism for Rimas e Batidas. He is a sound technician specialized in concerts and shows and resident artist at the cultural association DARC.

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