“As a play/pun very well built, using the language of modern theater, Cyborg Manifesto leaves us with a tragic conclusion, grandly accompanied by a hint of self irony. The attempts at reconstruction and deconstruction of the body, disillusionment and ultimate degeneration. ”
Four Days Festival of Prague
Revista Divadelní Noviny

Questão de crítica

Rhythm, critical strategy

by Daniele Ávila

To wright about Cyborg Manifesto is possible to start from some different points, for example, Donna Haraway’s essay A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century. This is not the way taken here to find some kind of proximity to this issue. But two things can be fished from this title/reference: the question “manifesto” and the fact that this piece does not takes as its starting point a fable, a formal research or experimenting itself, but gives a hint that his starting point is an issue, a problem, so to speak, of the world. Or, it seems that the piece parts of the very concept of cyborg.
Manifestos were many: realist, communist, futurist, surrealist. This is not a cyborg manifesto, but simply cyborg. This may indicate – and maybe there is no sense in this assumption – that this is not the kind of work that exposes his speech of assumptions, ideas, thoughts, intentions, for a certain aesthetic or political matters. Maybe Cyborg Manifesto also may mean, even if unintentionally, that the cyborg is manifest, that our cyborg condition is there. The piece is especially the cyborg in the other, women’s cyborg, the cyborg to become, men as a possible monkey-cyborg that, insofar as it “evolves”, engages the body devices and mechanisms with which it deals repeatedly, organically, which contributes to the definition of what a man is. The monkey of A Report to an Academy , by Franz Kafka, suggested at some point in the piece, can be seen as an ape-cyborg humanoid, a becoming of a pre-history and actuality of the human form.
This image of the cyborg, a science fiction sometimes threatening, alludes to the suspension of genres, issues dealt with cross-dressing humor by Leonardo Corajo. It is also plausible to speculate about the possibility of the piece itself having a cyborg face: to be a bit of a play and a bit of a performance or a set of performances. The term “manifesto” normally refers to a written text, an association that, if made, is readily broken by moments of silence that govern the play early on. The microphone and speaker of the scene seem to comment on the possibility of this allusion and perhaps they are traces of a certain irony.
The mixture of categories (fiction and reality, for example) appears when Leonardo Corajo, with an image of the face of Frankenstein hiding his own face, dances Billie Jean, by Michael Jackson, associating (or making dance together) a character-icon of literature with an iconic character in popular culture. The changes in the physical appearance of the singer and the approach of his face, somewhat deformed, with the face of the monster of Mary Shelley brings into the play a degree of perversity, a critic who finds humor at the declared identification between the two figures and plays with the concept of cyborg. An example of the elasticity of the cyborg’s image and as man can go far in the anxiety of transforming himself. Another image of the piece, a mask made of dough on the face of one of the actors, recalls the surgical trials of the French performer Orlan with his own face. Leonardo Corajo brings to the scene what one can call a cyborg body of identities.
But the main question of this work does not seem to be to make, with a manifest, any kind of complaint, nor, as they used to say, give us a message. The piece shows in a very specific way, things of our time, man’s ways to deal with its identity and the devices of visibility for this identity, an issue raised by Dinah Cesare in his text on the piece, published on November 2008 at Questão de Crítica e-magazine.
As a specific way to make emerge these issues, the notion of theatricality presented here reveals a singular logic of staging by Joelson Gusson, and by the work of the actors in dealing with the propositions of senses (I don’t think the term “scene” is enough to describe this piece). It seems that the staging is guided by a particular understanding of the idea of rhythm as the prior element in constructing significations for the images proposed. It is this combination of rhythm and image where the piece is engendered. The work of the actors seems to be guided by this double operation. Leonardo Corajo acts more as an image, which lends itself to let the ideas happen in your body: it is the Frankenstein creature, the mass to be shaped, support for printing. Lucas Gouvea is the conductor of that particular rhythm of the piece, he interfere on the mass, provokes and gives form to the images: the scientist/doctor/creator/artist, Victor Frankenstein, or the setter of the exhibition. Although the dynamics of the play is not so clearly divided as I tried to present, I think these two vectors of activity occur as power lines crucial to the design of the scene, for the project of staging. After all, Frankenstein is the name of the creator and the creature itself. The two actors create together with their differences, a unique performance.
What I try to point as a singularity of the rhythm is not this rhythm of an alleged action, a trick that catches the attention, but the rhythm of construction of speeches by images articulating gestures and silences. The rhythm seems to be singled out as a kind of category of theatrical staging, a constituent of the poetics of spectacle, much more crucial than stage design, lighting or costumes. The rhythm in Cyborg Manifesto appears as an element of drama, as it is in the meanings of distribution of the senses, revealing an unlikely speed in slowness. Because of this, the rhythm would not be a critical strategy of the work? The rhythm notes but does not close the comment; points, but does not explain, fracture, but do not break. The images are visible just by being built in that fissured cadence, this game between construction time and time perception of images made with bodies in motion.
This special rate, which is more evident in the score of shares of Lucas Gouvea, on pauses and precise moments in which the actor looks toward the audience (and looks to the public eye), stresses the creation of a self scenic writing, an authorial status by the director Joelson Gusson, betting on the potential of plastic suggestion on crating senses in the scene. There is, every moment of the play, simplicity in dealing with what is intrinsically complex.

Questão de crítica

Identity in question

by Dinah Cesare

The particularity of the piece Manifesto Ciborgue, directed by Joelson Gusson, seems to be the fact of being constructed upon a subtle tension between formal elements, where it appears a critic sense, as well as subjective instances that come to dismount the impositions of this critic. As far as I can see, the sensation for the spectator is that there are no pre-defined positions about the theme of this piece, making it possible to break down pre-defined senses.

The piece works upon issues that belong to cultural studies inspired by the article written by Donna Haraway: A Cyborg Manifest. This manifest proposes some ideas that dismantle our totalitarian notions of identity through a perspective of imbrications between technology and the human body, emphasizing that the latter is constituted in a partial and contradictory way. This transformation of perspectives – the perception of the fragility of our notions of “self” – and a deepening of the understanding that we are a cultural construction, transforms itself in a subtle materiality in this piece.

As I see, the work of the performers is the key responsible to make the spectator foresee possible ambiguities suggested by the direction. All the images of technological devices integrated to the human body, from plastic surgeries, or those of health treatment, to physical exercises that aims the preservation of youth, are questioned in this scene, elaborated through references along with the fading of the importance of the word/text.

The acting is marked by a search for neutrality and non-dramatized speeches. What results from this movement is the appearing of delicate instances that does not intend to reveal any kind of communicative targets. In this context, the beauty and sensuality of Leonardo Corajo seems to be the element of communication for an evanescent narrative, far from any self imposition. A nice moment of Corajo is his caricatured construction of the feminine that is questioned through his voice, masculine and soft at the same time, when he says the poems of WJ Solha. Lucas Gouvêa exposes his asceticism and some kind of objectivity; however, he is also part of a sensuality that passes through the bodies of both performers.

The set design, also ascetic, gather the images of a hospital room with those of an art gallery creating an ambience that is ready to despise any idea of corporeal sensation. If the asceticism and the whiteness tends to a triumph of the spirit upon the suffering, originating from our bodies, the compositions of photographies of parts of human bodies with some kind of external interference (prosthesis, prominent muscles, piercings, etc) highlight the quotidian instance. These elements can either provoke an unconcerned apprehension that causes amusement, or a reflection about self identity. I believe that this is the trump of the piece, in other words, it can be apprehended through some kind of humor apparently simple.

The problem that I can see in this piece is that it should be performed in other kind of space [She is talking about the stage of the Glaucio Gill theatre] where the public could be seated a little far from the scene.

The piece Cyborg Manifest materializes elements that collaborates to a notion of ‘sharing the artistic experience’ and, just for that, it should be seeing in a wide circuit.