Fringe Uncut Ep.1: Cassandra, we have a problem

Get to know the artists of Buffer Fringe 2023 up close!

Fringe Uncut blog series aims at peaking into the backstage of the 10th edition of the Buffer Fringe Performing Arts Festival, taking place from the 4th until the 8th of October, including parallel activities and workshops.

This edition hosts Paula Carrara & Carlos Canhameiro answering questions about their performance “Casssandra, we have a problem” at Buffer Fringe 2023, their inspiration and more. Read on and get yourself ready to immerse into the world of Buffer Fringe!

Q. Please introduce yourself/your group.

Paula & Carlos have been collaborating since 2009 in the artistic research in performative and contemporary theatre. Paula is performer and director, dedicates herself since 2001 to the exploration of contemporary approaches, with a particular interest in voice and language performativity. She has a master’s degree in Performing Arts (ECA/USP), is the author of the book [Body Voice Listening] (2016) and is an invited professor of the undergraduate course in Performing Arts (USP/2012). Carlos is director, playwright and actor. He has been working for over 17 years in São Paulo where he has created dozens of plays with different artists and theatre groups. He is a founding member of Cia. Les Commediens Tropicales and Cia. De Feitos. He has a doctorate in arts by Unicamp (University where he also did his Master’s Degree, graduation in scenic arts and two years of graduation in dance). They are both part of Cie de Faux, theater group based in Lyon (France).

Q. Can you describe your performance? (the topic you focus on, the main message of the performance, etc)

Cassandra we have a problem is a solo site-specifc performance of a woman inside a bathroom that crosses the events of Cassandra’s myth in an attempt to discuss the theme of credibility and the right to ‘have a voice’. Cassandra is also an urgency: to discuss the interest in maintaining relations of asymmetric submission, silencing the other (woman, immigrant, undefined skin colour and several others).  Cassandra is barbaric, daughter of an exotic country, foreign – cursed with the gift of prophecy – and nothing she says is believable. The bathroom – an intimate, dirty and uncomfortable environment – becomes the space of invitation to listening and to the exploration of language, whether as an index of thought or as visual and sound materiality. Cassandra, we have a problem is a work that invites the instability of the performer’s body, that through the irony of the text question herself: how is it possible, still, to be heard?

Q. Can you tell us about your creative process developing the piece?

In 2018, in Naples (Italy) I participated in the first artistic residency to begin investigating and creating scenes, leaning into the myth of Cassandra, a barbarian, a woman daughter of an exotic country, a foreigner enslaved and taken away from her territory.

During the public performance with the results of this first residency, about 20 minutes of scenes , I realized that the fact that I was a foreign actress, also from a country considered exotic by some, generated an even more powerful reading of the question that generated this creation: how to be heard? Who has the right to speak today? Who can express what they think? And who can/will listen? Language is able to move transformations (?). Is the voice of a foreign body voice or just noise? What are the mechanisms of truth construction?

I travelled to Brazil to participate in another artistic residency, now in Portuguese, in my homeland, and I asked myself the problem of the meaning of the show when my body was no longer the body of a foreigner. The idea was to be able to advance in the construction of the scenes and have the look of guest artists. But the process was interrupted halfway through with the arrival of Pandemic.

Back in Milan, city were I live nowadays, and during the lockdown period, the rehearsal finds its space inside the bathroom, an intimate, dirty or clean space, mas surely an uncomfortable environment, which becomes a space for listening to and exploring language, both as an index of thought and as visual and sound materiality.

Q. How would you describe your performance in relation to the festival theme “Turning Point”?

The great connection of Cassandra we have a problem with the Buffer Fringe theme is the possibility to reflect on how we’ll tell ‘our story, both private personal and collective story’. There is change occurring in the world for a quite time now: the establishment of more egalitarian spaces where different voices and narratives have space and the right to express themselves. Who has the right to speak today? How would be possible to build today a more democratic practice of dialogue in the future? Language is capable of moving transformations (?). Is the voice of a foreign body a voice or is it noise? What are the mechanisms for the construction of truth? In the performance, we have the chance to bring to the foreground the narrative of a woman, seen as a foreigner, and who appears not as a victim or coadjuvant. In this work, Cassandra is an agent, a subject that with the power of her voice crosses without hesitation the various languages and sounds beyond language. A myth of Greek origin, revisited in the body of a Brazilian actress in English, makes concrete on the scene the fragility and fictions of borders and world territories. Our digital relations have already opened the doors for the free crossing of knowledge and culture. And it is fitting that the character upon which we rely to restore Voice to those who have been commonly excluded is Cassandra, the priestess who sees before all, connected directly with the future. With her actions and voice, our Cassandra announces a future in which everyone, (Cassandra included) can finally be heard.

Q. Buffer Fringe Festival celebrates its 10th edition this year, yet considering Fringe tradition, it’squite young. It’s also defined as a festival with an aim to contribute to peacebuilding, in a divided country. What are your thoughts on this, were you aware of the situation in Cyprus before applying, and what are your expectations as a participating artist?

The news of Cassandra We Have a Problem’s participation in Buffer Fringe had a big impact on me. I was only superficially aware of the situation of conflict that runs through the history of Cyprus, a territory that historically is also crossed by the Trojan War itself. Personally, I found it very impactful to have the opportunity to share this performance, which is centred on the figure of a woman who seeks to avoid war and the decimation of Troy, her territory, in a territory that is also marked by conflict. My expectation is to be able to get in touch with the territory and, through the performance, leave my own testimony in the direction of dialogue and a culture of peace.

Q. What should the audience expect?

A site specific performance, guided for dramaturgical framments and a strong presence of the voice.

Cassandra we have a problem: 6th of October / Gardens of the Future / 20:00-20:55

Get your ticket here!

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