In this project Sónia Ferreira and her team aim “to contribute to a deeper understanding of the History of Europe and its diversity regarding experiences of citizenship and living under different political regimes. The exile experience is linked to biographical paths of struggle against totalitarian regimes and finding refuge in democratic systems. This experience of solidarity and the construction of citizenship in European territory must be remembered and brought to a wider discussion of the values the European Union should stand by in the present, regarding receiving and welcoming individuals in similar situations. The history of totalitarian Europe must be remembered alongside that of the Europe of solidarity”.
I participated in this project in a theatre writing workshop on Memory and Resistance, in the summer of 2021, coordinated by Ricardo Correia, artistic director of Casa da Esquina, in Coimbra.
A compilation of all of the plays produced in the workshop has been released as a PDF file, Laboratório de Escrita para Teatro: Dramaturgias, Políticas, Contemporâneas.
The end result of my contribution was a short play, in Portuguese, called “Tapas” on the subject of the stolen babies of Spain.
Additionally, a series of 17 short interviews about the theatre writing workshop with each of the project members was published to YouTube.
Sónia is the coordinator of the #ECOS project. She talks of how the aim is to delve into the memory of Portuguese exile in Europe, bringing to light the documents, objects and testaments of Portuguese people who went into exile during the 1960s and 1970s because they were against the “Estado Novo” of Salazar’s authoritarian regime. However, the aim in not only to challenge silences from the past but also to address uncertainties and injustices in the present. The project foments dialogue between youth and the elderly, migrants, exiles, pupils, and teachers, academics and artists. The plays produced in the workshop are not limited to the history of Portugal, they include the histories of Brazil, Spain, and Belgium.
Ricardo, who coordinated the writing workshop in which participants worked on the topic of memory and resistance, discusses some of the themes of the plays. They include: Portugal’s colonial past; the “Carnation Revolution” of 25 April 1974 when a popular demonstration put an end to the dictatorship and to war in the colonies; multiple identities and belongings across Portugal, France, Belgium and Algeria; resistance against dictatorship in Brazil; the workings of post-truth; the role and struggles of women within the family and in the labour market; the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic upon society and the intricacies of mourning and dementia.
Tapas is a deceptive title since it evokes the pleasures of eating with friends and family in a relaxed environment to address the difficult topic of the stolen babies of Spain. But relaxed conviviality is precisely what the protagonist of the play desires. Having found his biological mother, he arranges a meeting with her and his adoptive mother in the hope that they will be able to get along. Will they? I address this question, inspired by Lorca’s poetic trilogy – Yerma, Blood Weddings and the House of Bernarda Alba.