all you can eat, Plataforma 285
Plataforma285’s new brainchild is a show with live theatre, performance, installation, dance, and music. According to the collective, this performance claims «the right to leisure», demanding the «right to rest and boredom». It contests the idea that leisure time is useless. The rhythm of this play fits in with the commodification of things and time. It makes us think about the stereotypes related to rest and free time. all you can eat was on stage between October 21 and 23 at Sala dos Geradores da Central Tejo, Maat.
The industrial profile of Sala dos Geradores, its generous size and all the machinery on display add a surrealistic and sci-fi atmosphere to the scenic setting, allowing us to question the time of things and existence. That which we take for granted and definite, often leaving us anxious and socially stressed, results in uncontrolled self-criticism: I’m wasting time, I’m not doing anything, I’m not doing anything productive. The obsession with productivity, which we all feel, is one of the great achievements of capitalism: each action cannot be seen or thought of without the productivity element. The action time of this show oscillates. Sometimes it is awfully slow, sometimes it is quite fast. However, the performativity in both is very timid. The performative element is diluted in the set and music. The plasticity of both is what attracts our attention the most. To say that the performativity is non-existent is an exaggeration, but it will not be excessive to claim that the overlaying quality is apathy. At moments of this action, the rhythm accelerates, opening space for the interplay between sound and movement. Due to the room’s acoustics, all the small noises that result from the use of knives, containers and thermal spray water are amplified, cluttering the scenic space with sounds that resemble the texture of these materials.
Music in this show is crucial. George Silver, artist invited by Plataforma to integrate all you can eat, composes the music live. Silence is almost non-existent. Besides composing the music, George Silver manipulates the sound captured by the condenser microphones. These register the entire atmosphere of the room, as they are overly sensitive. However, they focus on the piece’s core action: the açorda prepared on the person lying face up on a table. This cooking gives rise to some very wild scenes. Several actions and movements during the preparation of the delicacy have nothing to do with the açorda. Sometimes, these movements make us think that the food in their hands is not the right one. Sometimes, the way of cutting the bread crusts looks like the way of cutting meat. There is no thread running through this show. And, yet, this action lasts the whole time and triggers discomfort in the audience. The spectators’ mood is marred by nonsense and awkwardness. The chilly atmosphere is brought down occasionally by a sense of humour and oddity.
This show feeds on small moments. On the one hand, it is difficult to find meaning or significance in the classic beginning, middle and end. On the other, we are drawn in by small actions that make us interpret the performance as a set of narratives and ideas that communicate with each other. For example, on top of a metal plate Cecilia places rope objects shaped like vaginas with tiny legs. Cecilia keeps these little vaginas moving, giving them strings when they need them. Meanwhile, George Silver plays the flute through air pumped in by Paula Sá Nogueira. It is exhilarating. Paula Sá Nogueira pumps slowly or frantically. So the melodies are either calm or frantic. It is superb when George Silver, with the neck of a rubber chicken, plays the song Meet her at the Love Parade. A trash moment understood by those who are used to nights out and parties. The interpretation of this show should not be chronological or look for great meanings or lessons. For me, the aim is to materialize the ideas and look for another time, marked by idleness and having nothing to do. The result is actions and a performativity divided between dream, surreal and nonsense.