A Look at the Portuguese World


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The contemporary visionaries

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Unaesthetic is a group that transcends the meaning of the word theater, goes further. It is an avant-garde company that puts on the scene multidisciplinary performances that prevent the indifference, that cultivates critical thinking and above all, that show a disturbing creativity.

The group is called unaesthetic and yet, there is a concern in your work in the opposite direction, i.e. there is a great concern on the aesthetics. Can you explain this contrition?
Alexandre Lyra Leite: The Theater is a contradiction, is a provocation. It is systematically put things in question. The name comes from an unaesthetic line that we wanted to follow, very avant-garde, with great care and that has to do with the whole concept of a spectacle that is multidisciplinary. The name itself is already a challenge for the viewer comes to see something that is unsightly and probably find the opposite.

I noticed that in addition of the performances from the texts of other authors you write pieces for the theater. This writing arises by the need you feel about specific texts for the type of performances of the unaesthetic?
ALL: I think it results of the language we used. I studied film and perhaps this fact and also the need of melting the theater work with a number of languages ​​of the visual arts, stage and film resulted in very specific projects. Sometimes I do not find the texts with the right tones, with a certain point of view, the right vision so I end up writing them, which doesn't mean that we haven't made adaptations of renowned authors. Such is the case of Frank Kafka and Edgar Allan Poe. They have a lot to do with our fantastic imagination, which lives much of the image and ambience creation.

Why you place your texts online?
ALL: I should put more.
Looks like another contradiction, anyone can copy.
ALL: I'll be super happy if anyone will take a text and be able to interpret it as long as I know. Just send an email. But, I'll post more.

Another facet of the group is design, how it all fits together?
ALL: It has everything to do with the logic of looking at a project as a multifaceted experience. It's all part of the experience. From the aspect of the ticket, the music that we put before it's all part of the atmosphere it creates for the viewer and to find a particular art object. And therefore, everything must be connected and there must be a rigor in this regard.

How then you define yourself?
ALL: We have multidisciplinary performances. Sometimes has a strong theatrical background, but not quite in the classic sense. The theater is now also turning.

In the project "comfort zone", you intended to create a sense of revulsion in the audience watching, or are intended to demonstrate the artist's own disgust when confronted with the issue addressed?
ALL: I think it's a double game. It sets a dangerous one due the reaction we've gotten. It's out of the comfort zone of the public who feels uncomfortable, it seems that sometimes we are suggesting the laughter, but is not it, people laugh but then stop and start taking readings of the message that we are crossing by. On the other hand, we are questioning the comfort of our own interpreters, which is unusual in the theater; there is a large exposure to accept the game, which is also the gold in the limit. That goes for the spectators at least that's what I realize, by the various reactions I have seen.

The impression I got is that people do not realize the impact of what they have just seen. What is the perception of the public at the end?
ALL: It has been a super interesting experience. People are very aware of what is happening, although what is before their eyes is a show of minimalist repetition and attitudes. The feedback has been interesting. We collect very different opinions. There are people who think we are referring to the current situation in the country, other revisit the humiliation they feel in their workplace, there is always an emotional point of view, individual. The fact is that there are many readings. The no use of words in this project was intended to be a metaphor for broader, wider interpretation. If we use words that I think would be very limited. People commented on the end very different thing and I did not want to limit that. We wanted people to take home powerful images, to think a little of what they had seen. The smile because in a given time and be in anguish in others. After all, what were we talking about? And then there is the personal vision. Every viewer will have his.

For this festival, "I love theater" we know what you brought, but that are you taken from this experience?
ALL: We always we returned home richer. First, because we have the opportunity to see the work of other groups. This is interesting; we see other proposals, other languages. It is always enriching this experience. We established a network of contacts that allows enhance future collaborations. We know people from other local projects that may develop something, as already done in the past. The exchanges arise naturally, but most of all is sharing, we found someone who is so fond of theater, as an affinity, an engine that unites and excites us and we know that there are other people who vibrate with the same which is to do theater.

How does the group unaesthetic fits in a locality as Villa Franca de Xira? It could only be possible outside of a large urban center?
ALL: I think our cultural references and aesthetic has to do with a more cosmopolitan, more urban environment. We worked for an imminently urban public, which goes to Vila Franca de Xira and accompanies us. But that does not mean that the language of theater is not universal. This project "comfort zone" will be on tour for various parts of the country. It's very universal. The public will see on their point of view. After all, Vila Franca is very close to Lisbon and many of our actors live in this city, or in the metropolitan area in the city and somehow feel that the matrix of our language has a lot to do with it, with this proximity to the big city and things it has to offers.

Sets the tone to your work?
ALL: The references turn out to influence us. The work we do is also what we read, watch, and the places that we visit. Somehow mold us, if we were a company inserted in a very rural area, we would do another kind of theater. It does not mean we cannot give that character of universality, deep emotions are universal. There is anxiety, fear and laughter.

After almost twenty years of existence, you see there is a greater respect for the theater by the public and institutions?
ALL: I think that above all the public does respect us. The institutions do not, speaking in general. The public entities that support us deeply fear the theater. It is uncomfortable, because it questions. They have been supportive, it's true. Now we are experiencing a very difficult time, I fear for the future of theater in Portugal especially for smaller companies, more independent ones like ours. We foresight very difficult times and I know that we are not alone.


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