Performance by Neire Lopes
Text by Neire Lopes and Cláudia Gomes
In 2016, Neire Lopes joined the university Federal University of Pará – UFPA, in the Theater Degree course. A conscious choice, by someone who understands the importance of Art, specifically Theater for the life of the human being.
Neire, a woman with more than 50 years of existence, satisfied with carrying out her plans, certain that, being among her colleagues in the field of scenic arts, age would not make a difference, she soon realized that, as everywhere, also there, certain speeches they are merely words spoken, for actions have nothing to do with them.
She began to feel in her skin the ageism dressed up as ‘games’ that made the discomfort that the presence of an old woman caused very clear. When, for example, old facts were mentioned, she soon heard; “look Neire, this is from your time” or “this time Neire must know”, “This is old, Neire must know”, all said with a lot of sarcasm, emphasizing age as a synonym for decadence. This discomfort was even greater when she, the old woman, was able to follow the physical activities that the authors of the “games” were not able to perform.
Among them, a young woman who said she was oppressed because she was fat. Although he felt the intention, Neire never let such jokes take his focus away, which was to take and complete the Degree in Theater.
In 2017, Neire joined the fellowship for the Theater Memory Music and Poetry Extension Project in the Best Age. In the project, I heard many testimonies from the participants with the same content, containing phrases such as “you are too old for that”, “your time has passed”, “ridiculous you want to go back to school now”, “want to play as a young lady , old hussy “.
In that same period, she started the Performance discipline, taught by Professor Karine Jansen. In this discipline, some renowned artists of the performance were studied in the weekly meetings, so that, next, a performance created by each student / student was presented, as the final work of the discipline.
From so much evidence of the discomfort that causes old age, Neire realized that he had enough material to create his performance, supported by Schechner (2006) and in understanding performance as a comprehensive repository of knowledge and a powerful vehicle for the expression of emotions .
Thus, Neire’s performance began to be built with the elements: creation of sheet music and costumes, scenic objects, makeup, location, time.
performance was entitled “Senhora do Tempo”. It brought the CHANGED speech in the throat of many women who, for fear of being classified as “the old woman”, fail to fulfill their desires, their desires, even though they have very strong reasons to, just now, as old women, run after their dreams.
There is something to be said that cannot be said: it is not necessarily scandal, because it is something quite banal – a gap, a void, an area that dodges light because its nature is the impossibility of be brought to light, a secret without secrecy whose broken seal is the nudity itself (BLANCHOT, 1971, p. 152).
The performance begins at the corner of D. Romualdo de Seixas avenue and Jerônimo Pimentel street, in front of the building of the Dance and Theater School. Neire looks at the school and the street, wearing a red cloak with trim that accompany and give freedom to the movements, with long, wide sleeves, with velvet detail and front opening, showing a body aesthetically modeled by a red corset that accentuates the shapes.
For Castro (2013: 193), based on the works of Abramovic, the body of the artist / performer is “a field of interference, or rather, a vehicle that can cause interference (…) since this body and its ‘organicity’ are likely to constitute meaning”.
Bare legs, no socks, red shoes with thin heels, tied to the ankle. In her hand is a bouquet of ixoria and lilies among other flowers, completing the costume earrings, necklace and ring with mandalas, in another shade of red. The makeup was striking wine red in the shadows and on the lips, contrasting a light gold illuminating the face, framed by gray hair.
Neire hesitates to enter, but suddenly pushes the gates into the school’s reception area, on a path with dry chestnut leaves that formed a carpet. A human corridor has been made.
The Lady of Time distributes (delicately and abruptly) the flowers of the bouquet among the people, surprised. Still following on the carpet, he starts saying the word ‘old’ over and over, changing the intonation and facing surprised looks. Arriving at the foot of the stairs, he goes up the candle-lit steps in candlesticks. When he reaches the center of the stairs, he leans on parapet, and again says the old word, this time, smiling.
He makes a sudden silence and looks down at the audience, his figure framed by two large candlesticks perched on the sides of the parapet. Start talking:
I have so many years out there that you can’t believe it.
Inside, twelve or less, and I think I’m more beautiful.
Outside, glasses; some wrinkles, silver in the dyed hair.
Inside I am golden, immaculate soul, model body.
Outside, passions beat against the chest.
Passions for verses, arts and friends without spite.
Sadness does not defeat me; I do not oppose longing, nor evil
I bring so many lives inside, child, girl, tomboy, woman and lady.
The girl inside illuminates the woman outside and the woman becomes a lady.
Lady of her desires, of her dreams, of her future, Lady of her time “
(The text used is an excerpt from the poem by the poet Luan Jessan with interventions by the performer)
At the end of that speech, the performer wields an hourglass while the sand flows. But the time for action ends up being set by the audience, when it starts to applaud.
In the end, the comments were that Neire’s performance was a “slap” that needed to be given, which encouraged many women to make decisions and not to feel diminished due to age.
The predominant red color in the costumes and scenery is purposeful, assimilating the red that is present in everyday life. It represents either warning or danger signs, love, war, the feminine, the masculine, luck, joy, creativity. The mantle is the “sacred”, it refers to hidden emotions, but also to power and strength. It holds a true artillery of emotions. The corset reinforces sensuality and delicacy; and, also, power, strength, and, still, in the context of this performance, a symbol of the transgression of socio-cultural impositions on the female body. Culturally, the death of the corset is closely linked to the First World War. With men busy fighting on the battlefront, women were summoned to take up work in the fields, cities and factories, making their use obsolete.
For the performer, the flowers represent the enchantment for choosing the theater course and the expected and sometimes unreceived receptivity. Therefore, they are not always delicately distributed to the public. The dry leaves, on the other hand, represent every experience ever lived, the problems overcome. They become the carpet of your walk / trajectory. Very dry leaves can be burned quickly, as well as small problems, which only become big when they paralyze us with fear.
Candlesticks or candelabra are a metaphor built from the notion of the warrior’s brilliance. In Celtic culture, the “valued chandelier” is an expression that is used to designate a brave warrior. In this case, the warrior is the Lady of Time. It breaks down barriers of “desires” built out of itself.
The performance strengthened and empowered not only Neire, but still other women warriors in their daily lives. The testimony of Nazaré Gouveia (61 years old) is significant: ”(…) the performance Senhora do Tempo was transforming, showed me that as a woman of the third age I can do anything. My view on ‘me person’ has changed”(GOUVEIA, 2017)
The hourglass is an ancient instrument for measuring time and also an expression for referring to the silhouettes of a woman’s body. In Freemasonry it is a symbol that represents the slow and inexorable flow of time, recalling at the same time the need to act and the brevity of human existence.
The young man, Marvin Muniz, 25, talks about time, afraid to grow old:
I have a big memory problem and I have a lot of problems with aging and I think that when I saw your performance, this fear that I feel so much about getting older, so it kind of fell apart a little. In addition to seeing you as an actress, there with that body with that joviality, you know how to tell me about time”. (MUNIZ, 2017)
This work had repercussions in the academic environment of the Federal University of Pará and was invited to be presented at the Graduation Forum of the Institute of Legal Sciences, on the campus of Guamá. The Lady of Time, in that space also caused unrest. In the bathroom, while Neire removed her makeup, a group of women entered, among them, some teachers. They reported prejudiced actions practiced by other younger colleagues and students in the classroom, and even some of the times when they were made “deaf” in the face of some phrases such as, “what is this old woman still doing here?”. These women thanked the performer for taking them Senhora do Tempo and for reminding them of the girl that each one has inside her to be enlightened and strengthened.
Another performance was held at CONDETUF, also in 2017, at the Teatro Universitário Cláudio Barradas. In this presentation, the public, in the majority, was male, but, revealed to have suffered the same ageist prejudice suffered by ICJ teachers. It was an emotional presentation, and it gave Neire an invitation to perform the Lady of Time on a lady’s 50th birthday as a gift from her brother. The performer claims that it was very significant for her, as a research artist, to have her work offered as a gift to someone and totally outside the academic environment, at a party, a celebration of life. In this presentation, she recalls, the expression “old !!” quoted several times during the performance, it took on the meaning of strength, when at the end of the congratulations the birthday girl proposed the toast by raising the cup and exclaiming loudly: – Old woman !! And they all repeated raising their glasses.
With each presentation, the time varies with the different spaces that, naturally, will ask for a change, without, however, leaving the focus of the performance. Speaking of time in this performance, says Neire, “is difficult, as it reverberates in memory and exceeds chronological time, it comes differently, as now at the time of this writing, in June 2020, during the covid-19 pandemic , where we have time to spare, but time stuck to ourselves, as in a cylinder, and that overflows nonetheless.
ABRAMOVIC, Marina. Pelas paredes: Memórias de Marina Abramovic:Editora José Olympio, 2017.
BOSI, Ecléa Memória & sociedade: lembrança de velhos. São Paulo, SP. T.A. Editor, 1979.
CASTRO, Tomás N. Um corpo em presença: uma aproximação a Marina Abramović. Philosophica, 42, Lisboa, 2013, pp. 189-198.
SCHECHNER, Richard. Public domain: Essays on the theatre. Indianópolis: Bobs-Merrill, 1968.