Três dedos abaixo do joelho

8, 10/05 – 20:30

9/05 – 18:00

1h 30min

Can words be dangerous? Starting with this question, Tiago Rodrigues has delved into the archives of the censorship commission set up in Portugal during Salazar’s dictatorship. On stage, two actors move through a wide variety of registers of acting styles. The show draws up a disconcerting list of plays, both classics and new works, which were ripped apart in censorship reports for apparently trivial reasons. Of these allegedly harmful plays, it is not what was left that interests Tiago Rodrigues, but rather what was cut and why. Not without some irony, the director promotes censors to the rank of playwright. Is it the hidden history of our own continent that Tiago Rodrigues is exposing by saying why something cannot be said? Twirling around like an absurd poetic machine, Três dedos abaixo do joelho is a penetrating new work by one of the most influential young voices in Portuguese theatre.

Direction & text (after the work of several censors of the fascist regime)
Tiago Rodrigues

Isabel Abreu & Gonçalo Waddington

Research & dramaturgic support
Joana Frazão

Lighting & technical direction
André Calado

Tiago Guedes & Rita Barbosa (Take it easy), RTP archive

Costumes concept
Magda Bizarro & Tiago Rodrigues (after costumes by Abílio Matos & Silva, Filipe Faísca, Herlander Peyroteo, José Costa Reis, Nuno Carinhas, Octávio Clérigo, Juan Sotullo, Rafaela Mapril & Sílvia Hasenclever for the shows 'O Traído Imaginário', 'O Poder da Górgone', 'A Carroça do Poder', 'As Três Irmãs' & 'A Maçon', 'Rei Lear', 'A Sobrinha do Marquês', 'Rómulo, o Grande', 'Sonho de uma Noite de Verão', 'Germânia 3'& the Portuguese National Theatre)

Magda Bizarro, Rita Barbosa & Tiago Rodrigues

Wall & poster image
Rita Barbosa

Márcia Santos ('The taste for power'), Alexandre Talhinhas (Drum'n'bass)

Kevin Rose

Production manager, subtitling & stage photography
Magda Bizarro

Thanks to
Paulo Tremoceiro, the employees from Torre do Tombo, Diogo Infante, Fernando Matos de Oliveira, Rui Pina Coelho, Mickael Oliveira

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Atelier 210

Mundo Perfeito (Lisbon)

Kunstenfestivaldesarts, Alkantara Festival (Lisbon), Teatro Nacional D. Maria II (Lisbon), Stage-Helsinki Theatre Festival, De Internationale Keuze van de Rotterdamse Schouwburg

Supported by
RTP, Take it Easy, Arquivo Nacional da Torre do Tombo/DGARQ

This project is co-produced by
NXTSTP, with support of the Culture Programme of the European Union

Created in Lisbon in June 2012

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In 1926, a military coup d'état started a dictatorship that would lead António de Oliveira Salazar (1889-1970) to power in 1932 and keep Portugal under a fascist and colonialist regime for 48 years (1926 to 1974). Under the slogan "God, Fatherland, and Family", civil rights and political freedom were violently repressed. The political police persecuted, imprisoned, tortured, or killed the opposition. Millions of Portuguese fled the country for political or economical reasons, but also to escape the Colonial War that lasted for 13 years in several African countries. On 25 April 1974, the Carnation Revolution ended the longest right-wing dictatorship in Europe.

In the Torre do Tombo, Portugal's national archive, theatre maker Tiago Rodrigues found an incredibly large compilation of material - only recently made public - related to theatre during the dictatorship that ruled the country for 48 years. Particularly fearful of the 'contagious' factor involved in the meeting of an audience in a theatre, dictator Salazar demanded a fierce censorship of texts and performances. Even if contemporaries like Brecht, Max Frisch, and Eugene O'Neill were obviously censored, surprisingly so were classics like Molière, Shakespeare, and Sophocles. As were costumes, lighting, acting, and any advertising of the performances.

Among the thousands of censored plays discovered in the archive, Tiago Rodrigues was particularly interested in the reports written by the inspectors who enforced the cuts or prohibited the performances. Theirony behindTrês dedos abaixo do joelho is that it transforms censors into playwrights, using the censors' reports as the text for a theatre performance. One of the censors had written: "No cut should be perceptible to the public"; Tiago Rodrigues follows that very instruction. Destroying any borders between the words of Othello and those of a censor, this piece uses the theatre to reveal the thinking behind the censorship of that very theatre.

Now celebrating a decade of work with the Mundo Perfeito company, Tiago Rodrigues is considered by the Portuguese press as one of the most influential young artists in Portugal. Três dedos abaixo do joelho was awarded the Portuguese Author's Society for Best Performance in 2012, and has been praised for transforming the legacy of those who oppressed artistic and political freedom as an instrument to point-out what is still dangerous and meaningful in theatre. Tiago Rodrigues calls it "sweet revenge".

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Tiago Rodrigues (b. 1977) is an actor, playwright and director whose subversive and poetic theatre has made him one of Portugal’s leading young artists. His pace of work is astonishing: with his company, Mundo Perfeito, he has created thirty plays in the last decade. In the meantime, he has collaborated with other companies, choreographers and filmmakers and has been involved in teaching, curating and artistic community projects. His work has been presented in Europe, South America and the Middle East. Rodrigues has also collaborated with artists from Belgium, Lebanon, the Netherlands and Brazil. Deeply rooted in a collaborative theatre tradition, he has recently created pieces that stand out by the way in which they manipulate documents with theatrical tools, combining both public and private life and challenging our perception of social or historical phenomena.

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