A Noiva e o Boa Noite Cinderela review
In A Noiva e o Boa Noite Cinderela, Carolina Bianchi engages in an extreme performance, absorbing the drug known as « the rapist’s drug » live and letting the audience see its effect on her. Her anaesthetised body, totally vulnerable, becomes the plaything of every possible outrage. Reminiscences of the rape she suffered raise questions about violence against women, assault, mutilation and feminicide. While the first part of the performance is interesting and convincing, the second part plunges the viewer into an abyss of disbelief, so much so that the images resemble a disjointed patchwork.
The filthy rape of Cinderella
« How difficult it is to talk about it ». These are the words with which A Noiva e o Boa Noite Cinderela begins. How does one talk about the rape of which one has been the victim? And how do you turn it into an artistic work that can be performed on stage? About ten years ago, Carolina Bianchi was drugged and raped. The Brazilian director has chosen not only to deal with this assault but also to recreate it through an extreme and fearsome performance.
She says so at the start. The artist will drink, with a little vodka, the rapist’s drug. She will slowly sink and the performance will continue without her. With this radical gesture, Carolina Bianchi agrees to lose consciousness and once again be at the mercy of the worst. This unprecedented choice enabled her to reappropriate a traumatic experience through her art. At the same time, she absolutely refuses to forget or accept reconstruction. « Fuck catharsis » is his watchword.
Because, by reactivating what she has lived through before our very eyes every night, she is reliving it. Night after night, when the show is on, she escapes amnesia and what she calls « the digestion of forgiveness ». In this atrocious tale, every night Cinderella falls unconscious into the arms of people she has now chosen, hoping to understand what happened to her when she was no longer herself.
The audience becomes spectators to the vulnerability of the unconscious body of the woman who has been drugged. There is a gigantic gap between the mental idea we might have had of her and the reality we are confronted with. The unsettling power of the performance lies in this face-to-face encounter with the horror on stage, right in front of our eyes.
The first side of the tale
The show is in two parts. In the first, Carolina Bianchi, dressed in a smart beige and white suit, gives what looks like a lecture. Standing up, she walks around the stage. Behind a desk, she read out some of the notes from her research into assaults on women and extreme performances by female artists.
She begins by looking at rape through the lens of art history. On a screen, Sandro Botticelli‘s series of paintings from 1483, The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti, are projected and analysed. The works show four scenes that make for chilling reading. A spurned man organises a banquet. The aim is to convince the lady who has refused him to marry him. During the meal, a nightmarish scene he witnessed is re-enacted. At the end of a hunt, a horseman kills the woman who has rejected him and feeds her to his dogs. The threat and the prospect of an atrocious death lead the woman, in the final tableau, to accept the marriage.
Carolina Bianchi also evokes at length Pippa Bacca, an Italian artist who was raped and murdered in 2008. She was performing across Europe. Wearing a wedding dress, she hitchhiked across the continent. Her artistic itinerary ended in Turkey, the place where she was murdered. The director seeks to understand the artist’s motivations and to bring her back to life, through the photos she projects and the words she utters. It’s « one desperate soul trying to resurrect another desperate soul », she says. Youth, innocence and the virginal garb of a bride cannot protect these modern Cinderellas from violence. The conference came to an end when the Brazilian artist succumbed to drugs and fell asleep on the table where she had been officiating.
A nightmarish patchwork
With Carolina Bianchi asleep, the Cara de Cavalo collective took over the rest of the performance. The director is nothing more than a rag doll that they can manipulate at will. Some women undress her and dress her in white, while others place her on a mattress or in the boot of a car on the stage.
The stage opened up wide. On a large black tarpaulin, lit in red or green, piles of ashes, bones and even a blow-up doll appear. The mattress on which the drugged artist lies is part of the whole. What is the place and material of this body? the performer seems to be telling us, a little too obviously.
Texts are projected onto the screen, phrases by the artist or sordid news items. One example is a monstrous episode that occurred in Brazil. Tragically, it echoes the Botticelli paintings mentioned in the first part of the show. In 2013, a goalkeeper was released from prison after murdering Eliza Samudio, his pregnant ex-mistress. Her henchmen had cut up her body and, on her orders, fed it to her dogs. On his release from prison, the shameless criminal negotiated a new contract with a football club. In an attempt to link the various pieces together, the Cara de Cavalo collective indulges in a number of outdated choreographic sequences that dull the message.
The whole thing feels like a disjointed patchwork. And the impression, too, that the music, the very dated dance and the projection of texts on screen, are trying as best they can to fill the time needed for Carolina Bianchi to wake up on stage.
A nerve-wracking finale
The finale does not spare the spectator. In the car at the back of the stage, women sit down. Filmed live by the cameras held by the male performers, each of them, framed in close-up, sings an extract from a song while staring into the lens. One of them writes Help in red letters on the windscreen and shouts it against the window.
Finally, the unconscious body of Carolina Bianchi is placed on the bonnet of the car. The members of the collective push the vehicle to the front of the stage, as close as possible to the audience. The performer’s sex is exposed for all to see. Then, with the help of a speculum, one of the female performers thrusts an endoscopic camera into her vagina. Images of the bloody mucous membranes appear in close-up on the various screens. Long minutes of in vivo exploration.
At one point, the Brazilian artist asked the question: What am I looking at? And we are asking ourselves the same question. What are we trying to show through this live gynaecological examination? Vaginoscopy to probe the soul? A colonoscopy to investigate the organ that gave rise to the brutal desire to force it?
The fact remains that this finale places the audience in the position of a patent voyeur in front of the sex on offer. It dehumanises, through the gaze, the body that is being examined and watched. The question of whether the exhibition is free or not really arises.
In A Noiva e o Boa Noite Cinderela, Carolina Bianchi, through her extreme performance, continues to question the rape she suffered and the lack of memory of what was inflicted on her. It is a pity that the second half of the show only accompanies Cinderella’s sleep with a jumble of unconvincing images.
Les LM de M La Scène : LMMMMM
A Noiva e o Boa Noite Cinderela
Avec Larissa Ballarotti, Carolina Bianchi, Blackyva, José Artur Campos, Joana Ferraz, Fernanda Libman, Chico Lima, Rafael Limongelli, Marina Matheus
Texte, conception, mise en scène, dramaturgie Carolina Bianchi
Traduction pour le surtitrage Larissa Ballarotti, Luisa Dalgalarrondo, Joana Ferraz, Marina Matheus (anglais), Thomas Resendes (français)
Dramaturgie et recherche Carolina Mendonça
Direction technique, musique originale, son Miguel Caldas
Lumière Jo Rios
Scénographie Luisa Callegari
Vidéo Montserrat Fonseca Llach
Costumes Carolina Bianchi, Luisa Callegari, Tomás Decina
Collaboration artistique Tomás Decina
Entraînement du corps et de la voix Pat Fudyda, Yantó
Construction voiture Mathieu Audejean, Philippe Bercot, Miguel Caldas, Luisa Callegari, Pierre Dumas, Lionel Petit, Xavier Rhame, Jo Rios – Atelier de construction du Festival d’Avignon
Dialogue sur la théorie et la dramaturgie Silvia Bottiroli
Collaboration artistique Edit Kaldor (DAS Theatre)
Vidéo du karaoké Thany Sanches
Vous souhaitez lire une autre critique de M La Scène sur un spectacle d e la 77e édition du Festival d,Avignon ? Celle-ci pourrait vous plaire : Critique Welfare mise en scène Julie Deliquet