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fragments of separated rooms

Fragments of Separated Rooms

“Boundaries are not always bad.
Limits or Separation…They create clarity, they provide structure, they provide simplicity.
They also create misunderstandings, benefits, territories, differences, wars…” Text by Raman Zaya

Text by Claudia Galhós
Part I
Questions and Answers

Everyday, for a week, Raman Zaya walked down the hill from Convento da Saudação into the centre of Montemor-o-Novo, to Teatro Curvo Semedo carrying a poster on his hands with an unexpected, disconcerting and provocative question – in portuguese and in english – that he asked to the people he met on the way down. He takes portuguese reality, past and present, to elaborate his inquiry, and that is how he came up with interrogations such as: “Is Fado a Woman?”, “Could we export Fátima to save the crisis?”, “Is it time for a new revolution?”, “Is Portugal a man or a mouse?”, “Should we all move to Angola and rent Portugal to foreigner people?” or “Clearance sale. Can we sell shares of Camões, Pessoa & Saramago in the stock market?” 

He is touching in the most iconic names and references of portuguese identity, and even if in an intuitive impulse, he is making the most distracted people think about the value of life versus the economic value that rules life nowadays. Because in the end everything is relative… 

Raman has a reason for his questions, even when it is not obvious. Like when he puts men at the level of mice. Maybe it is only by chance but the fact is that there is a long history of comparison between mice and men, with a rich problematisation of the qualities, or lack of those, in men. It is enough to remember John Steinbeck’s book “Of mice and men” (1937), about the dreams of two rural workers in the context of american Great Depression, between 1929 and 1939… 

If Raman’s questions are baffling also are the answers… How to relate to the spirit in which people live these days when they tell you that whatever Portugal may be, the people living in it feel like they are mice… This is the sensible portrait of Portugal in Crisis in 2012 as touched by iranian theatre director and performer Raman Zaya. 
But this is just a fragment of Raman’s proposal “Fragments of Separated Rooms”.

Part II
In Theatre Curvo Semedo

The posters are now standing still in the front of the stage, leaning against the white curtain that separates the audience from the stage. It is not the conventional stage curtain that is supposed to come up or open in the middle when the show starts. This is a curtain that Raman put there as a barrier or a wall that blocks the public acess and view to what is happening on stage. Inside the stage, behind that fabric wall, there is another division: a red curtain separating the right side from the left side. 

This is an elementary sketch of the set up created by Raman. It is the first concrete image of his “Fragments of Separated Rooms”, expressed in this spacial organisation. This mechanics of separation is going to be applied to the distribution of public – women on one side and men on the other (this is the idea he is working on during the week, preparing for the public presentation on saturday).

Besides the already common fragmentary structure in contemporary theatre and dance, Raman proposes another level of fragmentation: that any artist who wants can use this set up to present his own performance fragment inside. It is in this context that, for example, Philippe Vincent is working on a text from Heiner Müller, and he also has a participation in Raman’s fragment in Raman’s “Fragments of Separated Rooms” (read it at the bottom of this page). But there is also an excerpt of “Danton’s Death” by Georg Büchner, that Miguel Borges is doing behind the white curtain – he is not seen, only heard, by the audience. It is a part of a text he already did on stage. But this time he is doing it inside Raman’s fragment, or moment, on Raman’s “Fragments of Separated Rooms”. 

“Did I told you…?
I was born in Tehran / Iran
sometimes I miss these coordinates
Then I just turn my iphone, looking for compass app…. and start it
in this room?
In this room East is in this direction 

I have also my centre. It is not lost … it is just a little bit shifted from East to the West
You know what I mean.
Your fate is not different.

Are we getting closer?

since I arrived here.
runs every day the past behind me
introduces itself.
sing me old songs of a bygone era.
shows me … how beautiful it was.
Today it looks old
but it still has a beautiful skin …

I think some of you were not even born.
But that doesn´t matter …
I’ve heard that everyone can sing any song
I’ve heard that anyone can sing the past.
this reminds me of my home country.

For me, the songs are not enough.
So I eat my old home land.
Every single day, I eat Persian food.
Then I have it in me …
I’m not sure …

Did I tell a story about you or a story about me?”
Text by Raman Zaya

An european story
Text by Philippe Vincent

There is an island in the Mediterranean sea called Corsica. This island has always been occupied, by the Greeks, then by the Romans, later even by Pope Stephan II, who, just because he loved to drink Corsica’s wine from the cap Corse, colonised the island to use the vines. Later, on one occasion, the Pope asked two Lords from Pisa’s republic, condemned by the Vatican for treason, to choose if they preferred to be killed, because for the Pope they were bad guys, or if they preferred to be sent to Corsica. To go to Corsica was, at this time, a real punishment. The two Lords decided to save their life and went to Corsica as administrators of the island. And they made a good job. So after a while, the Pope, in 1077, gave the administration of Corsica to the Republic of Pisa.

After many stories, many wars and many years, the Genoese took possession of the island in 1347, and governed it until 1729. Really bored to be occupied for more than two thousand years, in 1755, the leader of the island, Pasquale Paoli, decided to stage a revolution against the Genoese. Many towns and villages were liberated. Pasquale Paoli then asked the French writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau to write a constitution for this future democratic state. And Rousseau did it. Of course the Genoese were really angry about this. In fact, this was understandable, because the Genoese had built many bridges and roads in Corsica, which are today admired by tourists, who enjoy spending time during the summer in Corsica.

BUT, the Genoese were at this time rather poor, because their business and commerce was not going well. So, after much hesitation, they asked the French Kingdom to start a counterrevolutionary war, against Paoli and his comrades.

The Genoese said to the French King : Ok, at this time we have no money to finance a war, but if you fight it for us, and if, in ten years, we are unable to repay our debt, Corsica will belong to you. So the French assembled an army, and went to Corsica. After a brief war in 1768–69, Corsican resistance was finally brought to an end by the French at the Battle of Ponte Novu. For ten years, the Genoese tried to repay their debt to France. But the situation for them went from bad to worse, and they couldn’t pay. So after these ten years, Corsica became French. And this is why Napoleon Bonaparte, born during the brief war in 1769, also became French. The poor revolutionary Pasquale Paoli was exiled to London and, even by the French revolutionaries, he was never recognized as the man who commissioned the first modern constitution, before the American one.

However, Corsica appeared in the eyes of philosophers, notably Rousseau and Voltaire, as the first democratic state in the age of Enlightenment, and Paoli as an “enlightened despot”. It was after more than fifteen years, after his death in 1807, that Paoli was recognized by France as a good guy.

Anyway… Meanwhile, Bonaparte staged a coup d’état on the date of the 18th Brumaire, year VIII of the French republic, and, three years later became Emperor of the French, on December 2nd 1804. At this time, all French people thought that Corsica belonged to France, but Napoleon, he was thinking that France belonged to Corsica. His aim was to transform Corsica as the centre of Europe, and he started many wars against many countries in order to conquer all Europe. In other words, after the Romans and before Hitler and Coca-Cola, Napoleon had the idea of totaly unified nation. But what Napoleon didn’t understand is that what unifies mankind is business. This is why he lost his wars.