Performance by Paulo Ricardo Nascimento
Images from the artist’s collection
Text and translation by Danielle Cascaes
C/Sem Passos [100 steps/No steps], by Paulo Ricardo Nascimento, was presented during the Performance course of the Theater Education degree at Escola de Teatro e Dança da UFPA/ ETDUFPA (School of Theater and Dance/ UFPA), on June 11, 2011. The performance consists of two parts: firstly, out in the streets, and secondly, inside the classroom. During the first part, the performer walks a hundred steps, leaving ETDUFPA and following through Rua Cônego Jerônimo Pimentel. The performer carried one hundred sheets of white A4 paper in hands. Before each new step, a new sheet was deposited on the ground where he would step.
The video performance accompanies a voice text read during the video. At the end of each reading, the text was repeated at a faster pace than the previous one, even speeding up twice compared to the first time it was read. The text is authored by the performer himself, where it is discussed how each step we take, we are heading towards the future, leaving the past behind:
One hundred steps.
The step is the basic element of human displacement during almost all of our lives.
Each step is a consummate past. To take a step is to make it past. The step brings in itself the potential past. Each step is a direction, a destination. There is no going back to the step taken. It will always be a new step, always the next one. There is only the next step.
The steps are invisible and definitive, there are no visible records of the steps taken in the streets, on the sidewalks, on the asphalt. Millions of steps without history. Millions of stories whose steps are metaphors of a destiny followed by a choice made.
One hundred steps. From the first step to the hundredth, we walk on the street, there is a lapse of time that is almost always imperceptible and a short space covered. It’s almost nothing. Non-existent steps.
NASCIMENTO, Paulo Ricardo. 2011
Considering the characteristics of Nascimento’s performance, we can fit it into several categories indicated by Schechner and Pereira, such as a special ordering of time, rules and, in the case of the first part, fixed verbal text: “The presence of a fixed verbal text as a quality of performance would, in this sense, facilitate the analysis of different theatrical formats.” (PEREIRA apud JANSEN, 2005).
In conversation with Nascimento, the performer revealed that the inspiration for the performance came from his interpersonal relationship with his classmates during his degree. Upon entering the Theatre Education degree, Nascimento realized that many of his colleagues did not have much artistic experience, some had even done theater before entering the university. This realization came as a shock, as he was 42 years old at the time, having been a theatre artist since 14 years old. He felt as if he had come a long way towards graduation, taking dozens of steps… a hundred steps, while some of his peers had taken none. No steps. What kind of artistic relationship is established between those who have walked more steps than the others? This question developed the second part of the performance, held in the classroom.
Using the hundred sheets of A4 paper that were stepped on during the first part of the performance, Nascimento created a path of one hundred steps inside the classroom. There, he was able to talk with his colleagues about their different life experiences with art, as they walked in each other’s footsteps. His classmates stepped on the sheets he had stepped on, taking the same hundred steps, even though they had taken no steps in their own career. This second part gained a new category, becoming a group-performance: “It is the quality of the performance, whose realization would require a group practice, a collective action. Several performances require this format, especially the theater.” (SCHECHNER apud JANSEN, 2005).
The curious thing is that, according to reports by Nascimento, the performer imagined that one hundred steps would cover a much greater distance than it did. He took a hundred steps from several different places, like from the bus stop to his house, and always ended up walking short distances. Taking the first step in front of the ETDUFPA, the hundredth was taken in front of the Claudio Barradas University Theater, still within ETDUFPA’s territory.
This perception led the performer and colleagues to reflect on the value of walking a hundred steps or of being stepless. After all, everyone was in the same place, sharing similar experiences. This perception was important so that those who had a longer theater career could realize that, despite all the experience, they were no better than those who had none. The same happened in the opposite way, as those with little experience had their careers validated. The performance carried out in the classroom was essential for this, so that everyone could understand that experience generates wisdom, not status. The other’s experience, or the lack of your own, does not validate or devalue anyone; on the contrary, it can become a link that strengthens both sides. C/Sem Passos is a meeting place for those who already have a long career and those who are just starting out.
JANSEN, Karine. Belém Apaixonada: a construção do corpo devoto nos processos performáticos das Paixões de Cristo em Belém do Pará. 2004. Dissertação (Mestrado em Artes Cênicas) – Programa de Pós-Graduação em Artes Cênicas, UFBA, 2004.
SCHECHNER, Richard. Public domain: Essays on the theatre. Indianópolis: Bobs-Merrill, 1968.
NASCIMENTO, Paulo Ricardo. Entrevista concedida a Danielle Cascaes em 17.02.2022. Não publicado.