Alice in the Wasteland is the provocative name of a stage show written by Maria Clara Lobos, which will be performed in the Centro Cultural de Lagos this month. The innovative theatre is aimed at young people to make the new generation aware of the consequences of our consumer society.
Maria Clara was born in Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, in 1972. Her father was a diplomat, so she lived in different countries throughout her childhood, including France, the USA, Germany and Sweden. As a result, she speaks six languages, including Portuguese, her mother tongue. “Though I speak so many languages, the non-verbal language of the body has been my passion from an early age.” At the age of sixteen, she studied classical and modern dance to become a professional dancer. After graduating, she worked as a freelance dancer for four years before going to Brussels in 1995 to complete her studies at P.A.R.T.S (Performing Arts and Research Training Studios).
Brussels became her home, where she collaborated with different choreographers and in 2000, she set up her own company, XL Production. Her career took her on a path as a choreographer and company director, creating numerous productions on different scales, both for adults and young audiences, which have toured internationally in venues and festivals across Europe.
“Using a hybrid language that mixes dance, physical theatre, video, objects and speech, what characterises my work is a humorous, visual and critical approach to social and ecological topics such as consumer society, mass culture or plastic pollution,” says Clara.
Alice no País do Lixo was first created in Brussels and toured France, Belgium and Brazil. Aimed at a young audience aged five to 13, the show deconstructs the idea of Alice in Wonderland, as it becomes Alice in a wasteland of rubbish. A mix of theatre, dance, video, and object manipulation with a narrative and original music combines to create an entertaining and educational spectacle that is entertaining for the whole family and transcends any language barriers. Although a Portuguese adaptation, there is not much dialogue, so if you don’t speak Portuguese, don’t be put off, you will still understand the story.
The narrative follows Alice, an eight-year-old girl who, one night, while trying to retrieve her teddy bear, falls into the rubbish bin. Strangely, the bin is very deep and Alice lands on a mountain of rubbish. She begins an adventure in this imaginary country – the Land of Garbage. Maria Clara takes the public on this journey into the world of waste and its various aspects, passing not only through the negative aspects but also through the creative and transforming ones.
This piece seeks to bring awareness to environmental issues. “Seeing it in a creative context can impact children more. We emphasise that waste is not to be thrown away but given a value.” The production was inspired by artists using recycled waste to make art. Maria Clara sees this as prophetic as she has recycled her own work six years after its initial conception. By creating this new version with a new cast in Portugal, the show practices what it preaches. Sets and costumes are created from recycled waste. After the performances in Lagos, they will be touring Portugal, recycling their message to other audiences.
This production came to Lagos due to the founder of the Lagos artistic collective Sofia Brito. She met Maria Clara in Brussels while studying and asked her to come to Portugal with the performance. AORCA (Associação de Observação, Regeneração e Criação na Atualidade) was established in 2018 and supports artists in creating their own shows and initiatives. Part of Sofia’s goal is to create performances for children and teenagers in a region where there is not much on offer. Sofia also tries to engage schools in theatre and music and is also keen to promote cultural tourism.
As well as AORCA the production is being supported by partners including the Regenerative Organic Farm Quinta do Vale da Lama, together with the association Projecto Novas Descobertas (PND) and the Associação de Dança de Lagos (ADL). The artistic presentations will be further articulated with an educational programme developed in collaboration with Project New Discoveries. The Spectator Workshops held in schools and at the Lagos Cultural Centre are intended to open dialogue on the theme of waste, and regenerative practices. They aim to raise awareness about the consequences of the consumer society that leads us to create more and more waste on the planet, polluting our oceans, natural and urban spaces worldwide. It will also hopefully awaken young people to their potential. “Touching the costumes and teaching a bit of dance are all ways of encouraging children to glimpse another world of artistic endeavour they might not be familiar with,” reflects Sofia.
With two morning shows sold out and the artistic duo would love to sell out the other shows so that the municipality invites them back. With such a dynamic duo of artistic talent behind this show, there is one thing for sure – none of this show will go to waste!
The play is scheduled for 23 and 24 February, with sessions at 10:30 am and 3:30 pm. On the 25th, there is a session aimed at families at 4 pm, all in the Centro Cultural de Lagos.
Tickets on sale at the Cultural Center ticket office in Lagos: 10€/adults, 5€/under 18 years old, 3€/ student (school groups), 5€/spectator workshop
For reservation of tickets and more info about the workshops contactA ORCA:
(+351) 936 781 791 / 914 308 424
Photos © Charlotte Sampermans