THE PRIVATE COLLECTION OF ACÁCIO NOBRE
by Patrícia Portela
A vintage typewriter and a wireless keyboard perform a concert, a silent movie, developing a dialogue around and about Acácio Nobre’s archives, recreating the environment surrounding the author as he thinks and writes. A performance etched in the solitude and intimacy of the author and his or her unfinished work.
At the end of the 19th century, Europe was divided between those governments that embraced the study of drawing – inadvertently inventing modernity, and those that forbade Froebel’s Kindergarten, for fear of free thought. It is in the context of this rupture with existing models of education that Acácio Nobre lived, a Portuguese man of reference (silenced by the dictatorship and eliminated from the records of History), promoting the avant-garde in art and industry through his geometric puzzles and revolutionary theories.
Patricia Portela brings together the texts and models found in a forgotten chest in her grandmother’s cellar and follows clues to new and valuable documents lost in personal files and friends’ houses. Portela rebuilds some of Acacio Nobres political ideas, as well as his ambitious scientific and artistic projects, with the ultimate aim of reviving his work in a way that will question the collective memory of a country that, had it decided to give this man the immortality he deserved, would have been a different place.
(...) Paris, 22nd of October 1890, Esteemed Secretary of State and Council to the Crown, João Franco, I hereby humbly present to you my plans for the implementation of an innovative method of educating the children and workers of Portugal. (...) Allow me to be so bold as to believe that Portugal, a rural and traditionalist country, which is having some difficulty in finding its way to modernity, may and indeed should participate in this process (...) If a man knows how to draw a cone, a cube and a sphere to perfection, he has all of Nature’s forms, in all their complexity, at his command.
(...) I trust you know as well as I that revolution is the substitution of the elites. A monarchy is not destroyed only by the dethroning of a king. True revolution is that of mentalities. What I am in fact asking you, esteemed Secretary of State, is that you maximize the exposure of the country to the effects of the black swan and to the transmission of anti-knowledge (...) Be, for this nation, its third body. And thus make the difference, by interfering, in a minuscule way, in society. (…) Be that tiny disturbance in the system which produces a radical change. And be fast!
Acácio Nobre in a letter to His Excellency The Secretary of State João Franco
A co-production by Prado/ EGEAC-Maria Matos Teatro Municipal, September 2010
With the support of the Gulbenkian Foundation and La Porta
Sponsored by Jata - pequenos electrodomésticos | São Luiz | Teatro Praga | Algifa | A vida Portuguesa | CNC | Toy Museum of Sintra
Associated Partner: ZDB
Prado is a structure financed by the Governent of Portugal/Dgartes
Text and images Patrícia Portela
Typewriter and sound installation Christoph de Boeck
Special effects and image post-production Irmã Lúcia efeitos especiais
Electronic design Fabrice Moinet
Performers: André e. Teodósio and Patrícia Portela
Light design Daniel Worm d’Assumpção
Acácio Nobre’s jewel Alda Salavisa
Acácio Nobre’s tables João Gonçalves
Table and benches manufacturer Lionel&Bicho
Dressmaker D. Maria Luisa
Text editing Isabel Garcez
video&trailer Rui Ribeiro | Les Filmes de Merdre
Production management and executive production Helena Serra and Pedro Pires
running time 90’
"On stage we witness a dialogue between Patricia Portela and André Teodósio - or rather between a typewriter and a computer. And it is this dialogue between eras, between different ways of being and thinking that is presented on stage. "
Maria João Caetano in Diário de Notícias, 10/09/10
"Patricia Portela’s play is an immersion in the universe of Acácio Nobre, a forgotten Portuguese, a man of reference of the early twentieth century, rediscovered through his collected writings, discovered in a trunk in her grandparents' house. And does all this exist? "That which we decide exists, exists!"
Alexandra Prado Coelho in Público 10/09/10
"Patricia's words are as torrential as those of the play that can be seen in the house of the Maria Matos Theatre. And I say house because, little by little, the performance (i.e., the inside of Acácio Nobre’s head) comes sprawling into the entire space, enveloping the audience in a tornado of light (letters that are projected on to the audience), sound (the typewriter, to a greater or lesser degree), and even smells. "
Alexandra Prado Coelho in Público 10/09/10
"Patricia, it’s amazing! One of the most beautiful things I've seen in recent times! You showed me a new world with this show! While I was watching it (today), I felt like the stupidest guy in Lisbon, one who’s been wandering the streets of his existence for two weeks, not knowing that this show was happening every night. Thank you! "
Playwright and dramatist Miguel Castro Caldas in a personal email addressed to Patricia Portela
“Somewhere during the first half hour of The Private Collection of Acácio Nobre you suspect this may be a hoax created by Portela herself. Nobre is the embodiment and synthesis of many of the ideas and technological changes of the late 19th and early 20th century. And Portela presents them in a surprising way. (…) Like an open door, the tables (on stage), resemble grand pianos with elegant steel benches that seem to float in space. Portela, and her fellow performer Andre Teodósio appear, as if they were two concert pianists.
“As spectators we have to follow each moment carefully to avoid missing a thing and curiously it is this effort that produces a striking evocation of a revolutionary era, as if it were the demonstration of the fascination we still feel when we look back at these times.
“A beautiful concert of ideas.”
Pieter T’Jonk in De Morgen 17/02/11
September 10th to 18th, Maria Matos Teatro Municipal, Lisbon
September 24th Teatro Municipal da Guarda, Guarda
October 2nd, Teatro Viriato, Viseu
February 11th and 12th, Monty, Antwerp
February 16th, Stuk/Artefact Festival, Leuven
February 26th, Kaaistudios/Performatik Festival, Brussels
May 28th, Fitei | International Iberian Festival, Porto
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