CRITICISM / It is to committed theater, hungry for social justice, straddling Canada, land of freedom, and Brazil, a place of repression, that the author and director Philippe Soldevila invites the public of Périscope with ” Maria and the dreamed lives “. A piece that plays biographical fiction to evoke in an original and fanciful way the path of a woman in search of a better world.
C ette Maria is Marilda Carvalho, landed in the country there are twenty years. Thanks to an audition for a play, opposite two directors of theater companies (Éric Leblanc and Agnès Zacharie), parts of his life will be recreated. Sitting back most of the time, the woman is both the story and the one who tells it.
In an inventive back and forth between past and present, the spectator goes to meet his parents, his husband, his best friend, a recipient of a CHSLD where she works, as many characters endorsed in turn and with great energy by the four actors of the troupe (to which Érika Gagnon and Henri Louis Chalem are added).
The play is also an excuse for an introduction to the foundations of the Theater of the Oppressed, created by the Brazilian playwright Augusto Boal, a teacher of Maria. This form of art, which is played outside the traditional places of power, makes it possible to give the floor to the people of the people by integrating them in the room. A way to use fiction to act on realities. Hence this nice wink of end-of-career where Maria leaves her observation post to invite herself into the action, a touching moment of the play.
The staging, very exploded, put on very simple means to hold the attention. Between a change of shirt or shawl, the comedians come and go to embody characters sometimes funny, sometimes moving, never banal. On each side of a giant screen to project some passages of the room or explanations of the teachings of Boal, two bulletin boards collect photos of the pieces of the puzzle of Maria.
A stepladder, hidden behind the two panels, serves both as a perch for some colorful characters and to recreate judiciously the steps of an army of police on the march. In a symbolic way, Maria’s suitcase becomes depository of souvenirs.
A co-production between the Théâtre Sortie de secours and Ubus Théâtre, Maria and Dream Lives gives pause for thought on a host of themes, be it the use of theater as a vehicle for change, the importance of living free, resistance to oppression, the often painful experience of exile, all in an approach that nourishes both heart and soul. Hard to ask better.
Maria and Dream Lives is on view at Periscope until March 30th.