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Trono de Sangue/Macbeth.

TRONO DE SANGUE/MACBETH [THRONE OF BLOOD/MACBETH]. By William Shakespeare. Grupo de Teatro Macunaima, Sao Paulo, Brazil. 21 February 1993.

With the purpose of establishing "a dynamic experimental nucleus aiming at the search for new alternatives of language for the Brazilian theatre," the Centro de Pesquisa Teatral (Center for Theatre Research) was created in 1982 at the SESC Vila Nova under the coordination and direction of Jose Antunes Filho, who has since carefully chosen his texts (Macunaima; Nelson Rodrigues; Romeu e Julieta; A Hora e a Vez de Augusto Matraga; Xica da Silva; Paraiso Zona Norte; A Nova Velha Historia, among others). He has also been strict insofar as the internal coherence of his stagings is concerned, based on the premise that "the work of an actor is a process and is not restricted to his work with the director," which is to say that the preparation of an actor can be considered almost as a goal in itself, with all the consequences that this entails, and not always bound to the construction of one particular character or another.

Trono de Sangue/Macbeth uses procedures employed in former productions revived through research encompassing the origins of psychoanalysis, Gestalt therapy and anti-psychiatry; the postulates of dialectic materialism; the resources of Noh theatre; the history of art; the foundations of zen philosophy; the evolution of the theatre; the bases of holistics, etc., as well as continuous exercising of the body, voice and mimicry. It also takes into consideration the strong links between the individual and the group and between both of them and society.

This production is based on three elements-- stage setting, lighting and costumes--which give consistency to the work of the actor, who in turn, gives the play the depth and dimension it deserves.

Jose Carlos Serroni's Clean stage setting consists of grey walls with one door in each of them and a throne to the right, which appears or disappears as needed; a balcony with one door on each side, four windows at the center and a ladder on the fight. A rope hangs from the left side of the roof. The red floor contrasts with the sobriety of the rest of the stage.

The lighting, designed by Davi de Brito of the Lighting Nucleus of the CPT/SESC Vila Nova, is wholly subdued except for the appearances of the ghost of Banquo and the apparitions that foretell Macbeth's future, when green lighting is used. In addition, constant use is made of candles and torches.

The costumes, created by Romero de Andrade, in black and red, and beige degrade for Lady Macbeth and the witches, although large and loose, give the impression of adhering to the bodies of the actors, determining their movement and function in the universe of Shakespeare/Filho.

The stage setting, a monolithic block, suggests simultaneously the impenetrability of the castle and the nooks and crannies where the characters hide, spy or conspire--that is, the fragile solidity of the space surrounding the protagonist. Besides, the naked walls appear to multiply after the assassination of Duncan: Macbeth collides against them as if prisoner in a maze to which he cannot find the exit. The rope hanging from the roof, used by Macbeth to descend (while the other characters use a ladder) mirrors the hero's dubious situation-below the gods and above men, or, if one wishes, between Heaven and Earth.

Two highly significant rituals of rare beauty are associated with that symbology: Duncan's funeral, linking together Goya, an Andalusian dirge, and flamenco tap-dancing; and the immolation of Macbeth, subject and object of the sacrifice, who appears covered with blood and writhing to the strident sound of Total Death, sung by Kreator. These rituals raise both kings to the condition of cthonic heroes, presuppose them to be powerful in their sepulchral life and responsible for the fertility of the soil and for the health of the herds. They are poles that attract and repel each other, setting the world in motion.

The acting integrates elements from Noh theatre and stresses ambivalence so as to render it a symbol of human experience which goes beyond the ambition for power. Walking in Noh fashion, without gestures, the facial immobility of Lady Macbeth (Samantha Monteiro) masks the determination of her spirit, noticeable through the power and impact of her voice, which seems to spew forth from her entrails. As to Macbeth (Luis Melo), his aimless striding which leads him to collide against the (invisible) walls of the maze, and the progressive change of his facial expression (his features increasingly curve downwards), hide his unshakeable tenacity: he will change his own destiny.

The combination of stage setting, lighting and costumes emphasizes the talent and virtuosity of the actors, and the interaction of these elements causes Shakespeare's tragedy to affect even the most reluctant spectator.

But Filho does not stop there. He turns the witches into the Parcae and, above and beyond that, into the constitutive condition of the tyrant's own being, not into an imposition forced onto Macbeth, whom they follow. He humanizes/deifies the protagonist as someone who is simultaneously causa sui and cause of all that refers to him. He installs simultaneity as a principle of the organization and interrelation of events, as he demonstrates with particular sharpness in the case of the confrontation between Macbeth and Macduff. The victory of Macduff and the power of Macbeth could not be except as a function of each other.

One witnesses the updating, or better, the reinvention of Shakespeare, the director never admitting any concession to proselytism. One would never expect less than that from Jose Antunes Filho.


University of Sao Paulo
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Title Annotation:Sao Paulo, Brazil
Author:Lopondo, Lilian
Publication:Theatre Journal
Article Type:Theater Review
Date:Dec 1, 1993
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