Pendulum – by Marco Martins

Project

The invitation for this project came from Artemrede, a cultural cooperation project with 15 years of uninterrupted activity whose work is focused on the territories’ specificity by supporting artistic creation.

Artemrede operates in 17 municipalities bordering Lisbon, also characterized by being dormitory towns, where thousands of people live and commute daily to the city to work in the services’ field – a pendulum movement.

This project, in co-production with Teatro São Luiz, will be focused on social services providers, caregivers and the physical and social conditions in their lives and will depart from a cast of 10 women – non-professionals inhabitants of those 17 municipalities – who work as service and domestic providers.

This Arte em Rede territory is largely inhabited by first, second and third generation migrants from the former Portuguese colonies in Africa. As home carers, these women dedicate their lives to taking care of other families or individuals. Far from their home culture, in their work, these women find a detachment from their previous environment and most important of all – from their families.

This play will be created during a 6 month research process, opening a discursive space for those who have been deprived of their voices and questioning the social and economic practices involved in their activity. Ten African migrant women who daily commute between their home and someone else’s, leaving their families and children to dedicate themselves to assisting and improving conditions in other families’ homes.

This play will have as its central theme family relationships, in the sense of intergenerational confrontation between different ways of life, contexts, expectations, dreams and daily lives, both focusing on their daily pendulum movement and on the movements of international migration.

How are these women’s daily lives since the moment they leave their family to take care of another one? How do these workers relate with the families they work for and how does this relationship affect them?

Migrants from Africa have been coming to Portugal for more than 50 years but they have rarely encountered such challenging times as with the pandemic. The cuts and tax rise represent now fewer opportunities for both established residents and new arrivals. The pandemic was a strong coup for these women and their families.

This project creates a space for these women, by bringing to light the theme of the Portuguese post-colonialist memory and by questioning the matter of migration and the detachment these families suffer from their own memory rooted in colonial times.

How do you make a family tree when you may not know your family history? In fact, for most African migrants it is difficult to establish a family tree besides their grandfather. In this project, we will propose to them a journey into their past and present roots and family history.

The articulation of these two scopes – past and present – brought the will to call other authors to collaborate with Marco Martins, such as Djaimilia Pereira de Almeida, who wrote Esse Cabelo [That Hair], a book where she discovers that identity can include aspects such as hair type, bringing daily life into a broader reflection, or Bruno Vieira Amaral, a Portuguese novelist whose work focuses on the lives of those who live in Lisbon’s suburbs.

Legacy and heritage play an important role in this project: from the impact of inheriting dramas and ideal from past generations, to giving past to a group of people who did not have the opportunity to have their story told and reflect on their legacy.

Premiere in Setúbal: 10 June 2022

Premiere in Lisbon (Teatro São Luiz): 28 June to 2 July 2022

Direction Marco Martins, Cast Arena Ensemble (pending)

Co-production: São Luiz Teatro Municipal (pending)

Biography

Born in Lisbon in 1972, Marco Martins is currently an inescapable artist in the Portuguese artistic scene, his overarching body of work spanning several fields, from cinema to visual arts and drama. A graduate of the Lisbon Theatre and Film School, also attending Tisch School of Arts and HFF Munich – University of Film and Television, his films have been presented at major international festivals. Alice won him the Directors’ Fortnight Best Picture Award at Cannes in 2005. In 2006, he directed Um Ano Mais Longo [A Longer Year], a short film co-authored with Tonino Guerra and selected for the Venice International Film Festival. His latest feature film S. Jorge [Saint George] was once again a contender at the Venice Film Festival, awarding actor Nuno Lopes a Golden Lion (Horizons Award). Just as previously with Alice, Saint George was one of the Academy Award nominees for Best Foreign Language Film and, among others, the Goya Award.

In Drama, he founded the Arena Ensemble in 2007, along with Beatriz Batarda and has been since then artistically directing it.

Marco Martins stage creations embrace both classical and community projects alike, such as Baralha, a Shakespeare inspired play developed inside and with a gypsy community; Estaleiros, bringing on stage shipyard workers from Viana do Castelo (Northern Portugal), with writings by Samuel Beckett; All the world’s a stage, bringing together a cast of twenty professional and non-professional actors from eleven different nationalities or Provisional Figures Great Yarmouth, premiered at the Norwich and Norfolk Festival.

His work in cinema and theatre has come in for a great deal of recognition, anchored on and reflecting an intersection of performative languages, the collaboration with non-actors and various community projects with a strong choreographic component, all this conferring Marco Martins’ work a unique voice in the arts panorama.