“National Odyssey” by Teatro D.Maria wants to reflect on the “needs of the territory”

The "National Odyssey", which takes D. Maria to more than 90 Portuguese municipalities, from the district of Viana do Castelo to Faro, passing through the Azores and Madeira, is a journey that Pedro Penim says he does not want "only to show, in the sense of walking around and strutting the name of the Teatro Nacional, but of proposing a more horizontal programming and model of operation”, where the partnerships are curatorial and “think of the needs of the territories and not only of a production need of theater performances.

Especially because, he says, "the National Theater's public mission has never been limited to the building alone", but to the fact that next year they would be out of the physical space and, thus, "the 'ingenuity ended up showing the way in which this timetable'.

From the program of this trip, Pedro Penim highlighted the Atos program, the first partnership between D. Maria II and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, within the framework of which 43 projects will be carried out in as many municipalities, which will be promoted by 16 structures arts that aim to enhance the Portuguese cultural fabric and promote the civic practices of the communities that live there, through artistic and reflective projects.

"Landscapes", "Heritage" and "Peoples" are thus a subdivision of the program, "the first time that [a pareria] happens with a dimension of this nature", and it is precisely this way of responding "not only to a need to set up and take down shows and present them", but to "find formats that until now we haven't found so much".

"To find artists who think about the territory, who think about the communities, who think about the heritage, in a different way and not just creating theater performances in the traditional way," said Pedro Penim.

The objective is "to find the names of people who are already in the territory, who already have this work, have already identified, already mapped some of the needs, some of the themes that are important to discuss and create, so a program that goes beyond this idea of ​​simply repeating a simple touring model”, underlined Pedro Penim.

Deepening knowledge of local landscapes and ecosystems is the basis of the “Landscape” project, which will mobilize artistic structures such as Formiga Atomica, À Escuta – Catalogo Poético, Guarda-Rios, Marina Palácio and Um Coletivo, covering the areas of Borba, Gouveia, Idanha-a-Nova, Mirandela, Oliveira do Bairro, Portalegre, Portel, Vinhais, Ourém, Santa Maria da Feira, Tavira, Ponte de Sor, Grândola, Mértola, Montemor-o-Novo, through the different entities and their proposals, “which cross artistic perspectives with scientific knowledge and local customs”.

In the "Heritage" area, another pillar of the program, built and intangible heritage intersect in a relationship to contemporary thought, around historic centers, monuments and what connects them to people.

The “Amarelo Silvestre” projects, developed in Lamego, Ponte de Sor and Sardoal, and “Gira Sol Azul”, in Fundão, Guarda and Grândola, are among the initiatives covered in this area of ​​the program, as well as “Burilar”, in Reguengos from Monsaraz and Tomar. “Limite Zero”, in Pombal and Torre de Moncorvo, joined by the Espaço Invisível collective, in Madeira, and “Discos de Platão”, in the Azores.

Valuing people, based on the diversity of local communities, in areas such as the inclusion of ethnic minorities, the promotion of gender equality, the reversal of the isolation of the elderly and the integration of immigrants, is the basis of the "People" axis, which involves projects such as "Pele", "Cassandra", "Lugarspecific", "Ondamarela", "Walkie Talkie" and Um Coletivo, crossing the country from Paredes de Coura to Portimao.

“Frutos” is the name of the program in partnership with the National Arts Plan which will promote educational actions aimed at all levels of education, bringing younger generations closer to the performing arts and encouraging their cultural and civic participation.

"Strange lines", staged visits, theater workshops, theater laboratory are other initiatives included in the "National Odyssey" program, which also includes the "Nexos" initiative, within the framework of which there will be, among other actions, training for cultural professionals, in partnership with the Directorate General for the Arts (DGArtea), and training for artists with and without disabilities.

"Scenarios" is the program with which D. Maria II challenges the country to conceive of other ways of seeing, at the end of each quarter, promoting a reflection on the journey of the Odyssey itself, "with a look aggregated on the respective region”, involving the local community, cultural agents, artists, students, social entrepreneurs and scientists from all over the country, in partnership with the Portuguese Public Initiative for Social Innovation and Lab2050.

Once the Odyssey is over, Pedro Penim is convinced that the Teatro Nacional D.Maria II “will no longer be the same”.

Not only because, according to Pedro Penim, 2023 already represents an "enlargement of the Eunice network", which was "almost an inspiration for this tour idea" and which in this case represents an "exponential expansion" of the theaters associated with the Eunice network. for 2023, but also because of "the expectation that, in a way, this 'National Odyssey' will create in terms of heritage and the ballast it will leave".

And although the Eunice Network is one of the projects that it is worth "continuing and rethinking and extending to more theaters", "all the other seeds that this project leaves" open paths, "function both as a challenge and as a kind of fatality, in this report of what we are doing does not allow us to go back afterwards”.

“We are taking a very clear step here in the openness, at different levels of the Teatro Nacional D. Maria II, in its relations with the territory, but also in the synergies that this project creates and in the different partnerships. And it is almost on demand that, in the years that follow, whoever is there, follows up on this initiative.

An "imperative that will remain", assured the chairman of the board of directors of the theater, Rui Catarino. For you, it will not be possible, after the expectation and the realization created with the "National Odyssey", suddenly 2024 will be the same as 2019.

Right now the conditions are being created for a "systemic paradigm shift in the performing arts" in Portugal, and the "country will no longer be the same as it was in 2019", Rui Catarino told Lusa, pointing out that there is a movement “in the direction of cultural democracy that this project of territorial cohesion that brings the 'National Odyssey'” will “generate a demand” on the future work of the Teatro Nacional D. Maria II.

"It will not allow you to return to the theater in 2019", even taking into account that it has "circulated a lot" in the country and abroad.

For Pedro Penim, “the National Odyssey” also introduces a “paradigm of excellence” to which “it is not possible to return”.

Therefore, from 2023, the Teatro Nacional D. Maria II will have to undergo “a paradigm shift” and rethink its operation during this 2023 tour and according to the seeds that will be sown in the territory”.

In 2024, "the national component of the work" of the theater must be "much more present than it was before the National Odyssey", concluded Rui Catarino, according to whom the works could last until the first quarter of 2024.

"Other times, new centers" is one of the 'slogans' of D. Maria II in this 'Odyssey', constituting also the hope of a vision of the future, both for the administrator of the theater and for its current artistic director.


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