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Paradise

Jorge Andrade
Odile Darbelley
Simon Rummel
1.
As a result of the world news that dominate newspapers, the internet and television, “the spirit of the times” is not optimistic. We already knew that the economic balance of the last decades was just balanced in certain parts of the world, and now that balance itself is threatened. The number of people living in hardship increases, ill being spreads as do the waves of protest and nothing seems to stop the inclination of events. Politics, as it is being conducted, is discredited but no other ways are tried out. We live under the menace of “the end of the world” – the end of the world as we know it.
In these times, one feels that art must engage with politics and adopt it as theme. It is not enough for art to be political while reinventing our relationship with it (it’s politically privileged dimension); one feels that it is necessary that art is political whilst dealing with political themes.
We want to do a show about paradise.
2.
Paradise. From ancient Persian, pairidaeza = pairi (around) + daeza (wall).
Meaning “wall that surrounds a garden or orchard”. From that origin, the meaning of the word gradually changed. The Greek Xenofonte, after his stay in Persia as a soldier, described the paradises but did not mean the wall but instead the parks that the noble Persian liked to build and where they hunted. This Greek word was then used in the first translation of the Old Testament to, in Genesis, designate the Garden of Eden and, in the New Testament translation, to signify that what Christian culture understands as “Heaven”.
3.
Paradise can be something from the past: the world before evil; a time where moral issues did not take place. Or something from the future: the place of redemption that can be conquered and where one can life forever (in Christian culture, this is destined to those individuals whose life is morally judged as valuable). It can the synonymous of utopia. Consummation of beauty. To the skeptic, paradise is an escape from “reality”. It is too good or too peaceful, too removed from human nature, opposed to it.
All of this is quite ideological.
4.
To conceive this show, we will start from different types of material: ancestral stories that, in different parts of the world, describe the origins or the end of paradise; canonical texts like the bible or the 33 cantos of the book of paradise in Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy; literary descriptions of how paradise is like and it’s many descriptions in paintings; the utopias of “perfect worlds”, from the ideal cities portrayed in science fiction to XIX century philanthropy and hippie culture. But mainly we will work on the idea of understanding paradise as something exotic.
5.
Paradise (exotic) will originate from a study of XVI, XVII and XVII century texts that have as theme exotic worlds. The world was not global and Europe was gaining conscience of Earth’s geography. Between what it was discovering and the frenzy of constructing an image of what there was still to discover, writers and painters made up territories, plants, animals, wild creatures, ethnographic data.
This show will explore the difference. The imagined unknown as an inevitably bad thing – savagery – and the imagined unknown as a possible paradise – the “wondrous”. We’ll aim to use theatre’s own resources (text, scenography and wardrobe, lights and music) to evoke those images, recreating them.
6.
Apparently, paradise is the opposite of theater, in a sense that it is a place without
conflict.
Without obstacles, there is no drama.