Presented during the Women Of the World Festival (WOW London) at Southbank Centre SCAR was a multimedia installation based on the testimonies of over 800 women who live in Maré, Rio de Janeiro’s largest favela complex. Created by genre-defining Brazilian artist Bia Lessa, the piece brought new perspectives to a subject that continues to define the situation of women in the 21st century – violence.
For four months in 2017, a Brazilian research team led by Eliana Silva (director of community-based organisation Maré Development Networks and WOW Rio de Janeiro programmer) and Miriam Krenzinger (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) collected witness statements from women who live in Maré – a complex of 16 different communities with nearly 140,000 residents. The testimonies are published later this year as part of a research collaboration coordinated by Cathy Mcllwaine (King’s College London), Paul Heritage (Queen Mary University of London) and the Brazilian research team.
The installation presented the stories of 20 women from Rio de Janeiro, both as unique individuals and as part of a collective expression of resistance.
New dialogues are constructed from looks, silences, words that are exhaustedly repeated: ‘fear’, ‘man’, ‘mother’, ‘father’, ‘daughter’, ‘hunger’, ‘beaten’. It brings focus to the repeated gestures: the look down and away, the hand that sweeps away hair or remains strangely fixed.
Produced by People’s Palace Projects, and presented by Southbank Centre’s WOW – Women of the World festival as part of a research collaboration with Queen Mary University of London, King’s College London, Redes da Maré, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), the Latin American Women’s Rights Service (LAWRS) and CASA Festival, with funding from the Economic and Social Research Council and the Newton Fund.
A play based on the testimonies of Brazilian women interviewed in London was produced by CASA Latin American Festival. Called Efemera, it was directed and performed by Gaël Le Cornec with Rosie McPherson.
Performances of Efêmera were held at:
Southwark Playhouse in London on 5th, 6th, and 7th October 2017 as part of the CASA Latin American Theatre Festival followed by a panel discussion after the performance on the 7th October following a sell-out show.
Rio de Janeiro, at the Centro de Artes da Maré, Nova Holanda, Complexo da Maré on 24th November 2017, followed by a panel discussion and at the Sede das Cias, Escadaria Selarón, Lapa, Rio de Janeiro on 25th November 2017, followed by a panel discussion.
Brighton Fringe Festival, May 2018 where 3 performances were staged. Shortlisted for the Green Curtain Award.
Audience feedback from Brighton performances:
“I started with tears from chuckling and ended with tears from dismay and this happened several times throughout the play. I thought it would be about lots of stories, which it is, but I liked that the main focus was to combine it in one story, and so shocking to hear the performer’s own experience. This message needs to be heard. Thank you”
“It’s difficult to know what to say. I want to applaud the bravery, but that feels trite. This needs to be seen, to be heard, to be felt. Because, in a way , everyone needs to know this hurts, to feel this pain, until nobody does. I count my blessings that I have never suffered this much, and desperately hope for the day no one will.”
“Angry! All the suffering in silence and the bureaucratic incompetence and resistance. Congratulations to the actors and the researchers.” It was powerful because it is real”
“I was incredibly moved by your show. Brave, fierce, important, shocking, moving. As a middle class white English woman who has been sexually assaulted/raped even – the stories were close to my heart. That Brazilian woman are the subject of such terrible sexual, emotional and physical violence is deeply distressing …Thank you for your clarity your honesty and your courage.”
Images from Performance in London
Images from Performance in Rio de Janeiro
Can we Talk about it?
In August 2017, eight young people from across London joined People’s Palace Projects as part of the Rich Mix Takeover Festival for a full week of drama and film workshops on the theme “Can we talk about it?”. An intensive week of creativity saw the group work with drama and film facilitators to script, shoot and edit a short film, giving audiences a perspective from young Londoners about the pressures on young people’s relationships today: what makes a relationship healthy or unhealthy, and how do you negotiate what you’re happy with?
The week began with drama sessions to open up issues the young filmmakers felt strongly about, and to create a narrative and then a screenplay together. After a lightning induction into the processes of film production, they then assumed responsibility for the filming, direction, acting, production and editing, with support from experienced professionals including lead
filmmakers Aida Baneres Argiles and Martina Piazza and lead drama facilitator Carolina Angrisani.
The final film was showcased to a public audience last Saturday, 5th August at the Rich Mix Main Space and is launched online this week, freely available for sharing via social media, with enormous thanks and congratulations to all of the participants and facilitators who supported its creation. This project was made possible with funding awarded by the Economic and Social Research Council through the Newton Fund as part of a research project called “Healthy, Secure and Gender Just Cities”, led in the UK by Cathy McIlwaine and Paul Heritage, that investigates perspectives on violence against women and girls in London and Rio de Janeiro. It is part of a wider ‘Urban Transformations‘ network showcasing ESRC funded research on cities