All about my mother

Photos: Frederico Martins
Words: Cláudia Pinto

Under the gaze of Daniel Gorjão, eight women and three men take the stage at Teatro São Luiz in Lisbon. Samuel Adamson’s “All about my mother” is based on Pedro Almodôvar’s 1998 film that speaks about current issues. What is the role assigned to women in our society?

Daniel Gorjão intends to give stage and voice to themes that are socially under discussion in the media agenda, such as gender identity and sexual orientation, allowing a reflection by the audience, and giving visibility to queer performers and bodies. “I have wanted to do this text for many years. In the logic of work that I have been developing in recent years, these words made perfect sense. This show is based on the sorority. There is clearly a redemption of the characters that doesn’t exist in the film and there is support between them all. It also talks about queer themes; about having a trans actress going against the media discussion that currently exists. Of course, the text is dated (1998), but it can be read in the light of today. We have taken a step in gaining access to new actors, particularly trans actors”.

 The play centres on the life of Manuela – a nurse, a single mother, who witnesses the death of her son on his 17th birthday. Manuela sets out in search of the father of her son and, in digging up the past, she meets an old friend with whom she had prostituted herself, gets to know a nun and starts working as an assistant to a well-known theatre actress.

 “For me theatre serves to ask, not to answer. What is it to be human? What are we doing? Where is humanity heading? I want people to leave the show thinking about the issues the play tackles”, says the director. The unconditionality of feminine strength, what it is to be a woman, peripheral or not, racialised or not, cis or transgender, are some of the themes of this show that starts from the dramaturgy of these women, who are so unconditional that they make the concreteness of space and cinematographic time fall, making them symbols of survival and resistance.

This is a multi-disciplinary project that crosses the theatrical language with the new authorial media, thus providing a bigger and better approach to the target audience, facilitating the contemporising of the object and placing it within the context of new theatrical research practices that see the stage as the place and symbol of visibility, bringing to it queer bodies and voices that are often closed to these practices, allowing us to truly think about inclusion and equal opportunities.

And for each character there is a colour, a light, a detail that sets them apart. The fabrics were carefully chosen and provided by the textile company Riopele. And each character wears national footwear. Luís Onofre, Salt & Sugar, Felmini, Campobello, Reve de Flo and Rufel are the brands that can be seen in this show.
After its premiere at São Luiz in Lisbon from 11 to 22 January, the show goes on tour to Porto, with performances on 27, 28 and 29 January at the Teatro Municipal do Porto, Campo Alegre, and then from 25 March at the Cineteatro Louletano.
“In today’s society it is still necessary for women to fight for equal rights, equal pay, an end to domestic violence; and this is in the history of Western women. Across the world, in certain countries and regions, the struggle for basic rights continues. Our role today is to be vigilant and able to denounce any form of discrimination”.

Maria João Luís

“I’m not a woman. And I’m certainly not a man either… I think we all already know the symbolic places reserved for these gender roles in society. Despite this, culture is something that is always on the move. I personally am interested in those “roles” we are yet to invent, eager for them to be more like our desires: changeable and fluid”.

Gaya de Medeiros

“Genders are increasingly blurred; there are other gender roles. It’s about fighting every day so that in freedom we can take our place, regardless of how we are categorised”.

Daniel Gorjão

“A woman’s role is wherever she wants it to be. It’s as simple as that. In a truly free and egalitarian society, the question of what role is reserved for anyone will no longer arise. It’s about getting rid of labels to be able to focus on people. And to let the feminine energy, of creation by nature (the central theme of this show), flow and express itself freely and without barriers in all of us. As a woman, I work every day to make the world a place where everyone has their space and can make their voice heard. We don’t want established roles: we want freedom and opportunities to construct our own narrative. Tailored to each one of us”.

Teresa Tavares

“The role reserved for women in today’s society should be the one that women choose and want to take on. For this it is fundamental that everyone continues to fight for a more just, fraternal and free society, both in a wider sphere and in an intimate and individual sphere. This must be achieved through education, culture and the commitment of all. It is necessary to defend equal pay between genders, equal opportunities, fair allocation of decision-making positions, the end of domestic violence and to change formal and informal education in this direction. Only with everyone’s involvement is it possible for each person to be free to choose and act”.

Maria João Vicente

“It is up to each of us to take responsibility to carry on the legacy of Freedom and equality, for which so many of us have fought, struggle and continue to die…still! Big changes start with the smallest gestures”.

Silvia Filipe

Shoes: Felmini, Luís Onofre, Reve de Flo, Salt & Sugar
Jewellery: Portugal Jewels

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