Cardenio (Brazil), Production Notes
From the Translator, Fernando Paz
During the process of translation of the text, I realized that parts of it featured very different styles. That was common in Shakespeare's texts, but I suspected that, besides passages of the presumed original Shakespearean text, there could be texts of different origins.
So, before translating, I started to research the origin of "suspicious" parts of the play. There, I found out that part of it had been written by Shakespeare himself, passages of "The Two Noble Kinsmen" and "The Gentlemen of Verona" that either the authors or Mr. Lewis Theobald, in his adaptation "The Double Falsehood", had inserted in the text, in order to make it look more like a Shakespearean text.
I have also found a poem by John Fletcher; a passage of "The Tragedy of Rollo, Duke of Normandy", also by John Fletcher, and a passage of "Valentinian, a tragedy", by John Earl of Rochester. Those references were important to determine the "spirit" of the play I was translating: a mix of references, based on the works and style of the Bard.
Then, I started the translation. Some passages featured a very quotidian language; others, in verse, presented rhymes, metric and regular rhythm. I have found free verses as well as iambic pentameters, and I tried to respect them as well as possible. But, finally, I realized that, besides respecting the original character of the language, some passages should be perfectly understandable and almost quotidian, while others should present an artificial taste, in the sense that they had been "built" by the writer, and had to distinguish from the others by their artificial construction.
The next step was to give the text to Reinaldo Maia, who read and adapted it. Long parts of the original text had been kept. I only had to adequate what had been created by him to the spirit of the text I had translated.
Finally, the text was presented to the actors. I watched some rehearsals and suggested changes in order to "bring the text to their mouths", respecting the differences of style in each part of it. I then heard their suggestions and, after having discussed them with the director, authorized the changes.
From the Dramaturge, Reinaldo Maia
At least twice in its history, Folias worked with worldwide classic dramaturgical materials, William Shakespeare's "Othello" and more recently Aeschylus' "Oresteia".
In both cases, either in what regards the dramaturgic adaptation by Reinaldo Maia or the play staging, the adopted approach aimed at placing the play in the present, in the actual space and time when it is being done and by whom.
More than the obedience to the Brechtian orientation of contemporarization and historization, we were interested in bringing out of these classics the identity factor which could possibly be there. In other words, why were we interested in that play, what did it have to do with our lives and our country, to what kind of thoughts did it instigate us.
In this way, "Othello" became for us the tragedy of property; the confrontation between an overwhelming culture of consumption swallowing and marginalizing an indigenous popular culture. The production is done at a moment of deep socio-political change in the Brazilian society, when for the first time a man of the working class, Lula, becomes President of the Republic.
"Oresteia", the Greek trilogy seeks to understand the Brazilian and the Latin-American pathway after World War II. In this way, "Agamemnon" corresponds to the period of military dictatorships; "The Choephori" represents the revolution of behaviours and the restitution of democratic freedoms; "The Eumenides", the time of authoritarian delicacy, current times, the capitulation of institutions, and the media absolute monarchy.
We assume these were the reasons why Prof. Stephen Greemblatt invited us to participate in "Cardenio".
"Cardenio"'s path is in itself a justification for us to accept the invitation to co-produce the show in Brazil. For this work we looked for the origin of "Cardenio", knowing it is a theatre fragment supposedly by William Shakespeare and his collaborator John Fletcher. A lost play. Shakespeare would have written the play starting from an episode of Don Quijote by Cervantes.
The last version of "Cardenio" was staged in the 18th century; only recently did Greemblatt invited Charles Mee, American playwright, to rewrite the play starting from that Shakespearean fragment.
From our understanding, this project supported by the University is not intended to be simply translated and staged as such; rather, it is intended to be freely adopted according to cultural and theatre trends from the place where it's being staged.
In order to do so, we invited Fernando Paz, actor - who had already taken part in other Folias shows - to do a literal translation of the text, which would subsequently be adapted. Once the translation was ready, the text was read with the chosen cast, and from there we started the adaptation process.
Our surprise when we received the invitation was to realize that "Cardenio" totally fitted in the working theme we chose for 2008/2009: "Exodus". This working theme is present in the staging, seminars, workshops and publications of Folias; it looks for hypotheses and questions regarding the creative potential of the individuals at a time when institutions (governments, associations, media, NGOs…) limit themselves to keep the order in force without any other perspective but the possible peaceful and conformist administration of daily conflicts.
"Cardenio" is a wandering play, without a territory, migrating in space-time, a daughter of many authors. The plot is about love, betrayal, jealousy, delirium. There, where reality ends and fiction starts, the fact creating the image of the fact, or vice-versa. Is the individual a subject or an object, the play asks. "Cardenio", an authentic Shakespeare or a good-tempered invention? What does this matter anyway? "Exodus" is about landless, homeless, nationless individuals, orphans of father and mother, an unstructured mass which has to reinvent itself; by comparison or resemblance with the other, who, by chance, reinvents himself too. This way, one and other discover new forms of meetings, theatres, comedies and solidarities. This was the dramaturgical orientation of our work.
From the Director, Marco Antonio Rodrigues: "The Virtue of Imperfection"
"Cardenio" is a text built on the basis of a fragment of an ancient text which was found and supposedly attributed to William Shakespeare. This supposedly, as condition for questioning it all, is what makes the difference, giving place to suspicions: it can either provide the play with a certain degree of deception, of invented trickery; or it can give it the look of an aristocratic orphanage to be revealed.
In a way, it is an academic heretical synthesis of Shakespeare: popular, almost trivial, and of such a sophisticated erudition where discomposure is not omitted. Shakespeare is all but boring, and this is why we accepted to do it again, now exploring it with the key of humour, conflicts and romantic quid pro quo. The individual as the centre of petty distress is what matters to us now – since major distress (public, tragic, institutional) is no longer for us an object of study appeal, investigation or artistic queries, given the institutions' monotony and expectedness in the always mediocre political conduction, always submissive and oscillating between reality and well-behaved fiction.
The meaning of the staging is the Shakespearean play, but is also the supposition of the possible trickery around it. This is all about exploring these small warts which compromise the perfection of perfect beauty – but which encourage us to get closer to it, since after all, when looked at from really close, perfect beauty is not that perfect and it is the wart, more than the beauty, that makes it human. At least it is reassuring to think about the awareness of imperfection itself as fuel for other imaginations and adventures, which prevents the bureaucratisation of life, vaccinates against lethargy, pushing the imperfect into the search of new perfections. The centre is the stage, of course, and its actors. Do they represent or interpret? Is it real or invented? Is it memory or delirium? Is it serious or a joke? Is it made-up or authentic? Ah! Is it more worthy for its authenticity or for its mixing capacity?
The last intensive research work we did for "Oresteia" required rigorous personal statements from each of the actors regarding the creation of their characters. Insisting on this direction, our bottom-line approach in "Cardenio" intends to benefit from the Shakespearean method of creation and exposure of characters, which allows us to see and to understand the character's daily action, while at the same time we are allowed into his interior world, what's inside his head, which often contradicts and denies the action being performed. In other words, it is about stimulating the personal statement but also the disguising capacity of each one and of the ensemble of the interpreters.
We consider that the "Cardenio" staging project perfectly fits in the overall Folias project, which sees the stage as a research lab for the non-importance of truth through the confusing method of unmasking and elevating lies. And this, it must be said, is very different from the trickery and illusionism proposal from the time when the stage was the magic box.