«I never thought of doing something like this, I don't have the life for it anymore, it's boring to do…but it's done! I have to bring my people to see the plot I had here”. This is how Armindo Vieira Branco, «71, almost 72 years old», wiping the sweat from his forehead, comments on his work in construction from Teatro de Palha, which, as of Friday, July 1st, in the Vilarinha valley, next to Carrapateira, will begin to host a series of shows from «Lavrar o Mar».
Giacomo Scalisi, who, with Madalena Victorino, is responsible for programming «Lavrar o Mar», explains that «the best thing that happened to us was meeting Mr. a machine. Without him, I don't know how we would be able to build this in such a short time and so well».
O straw theater project – which is, literally, a space for shows, with a stage, benches, dressing rooms, reception and bar, built with straw bales – was designed by the architect Pedro Quintela. But each of the 300 large bales of straw weighs about 300 kilograms and the structure could not be built by hand. It took someone who knew how to maneuver a machine as if it were easy to do. And that “someone” turned out to be Mr. Armindo, who lives near Carrascalinho, further north, but still in the same municipality as Aljezur.
He and the architect understand each other wonderfully: «we don't have to tell him anything, the architect just gives the instructions and he does the rest. It was not easy to convince him to work with us, but Mr. Armindo ended up believing in the project», explains Giacomo.
After three intense days of work, on a Wednesday afternoon, the structure of Teatro de Palha is ready. Now, explains Pedro Quintela, all that was needed was to place smaller, lighter bales around them, work that will be done by the team at «Lavrar o Mar», with the help of a tractor and a lot of strength of arms.
Mr. Armindo turns off the machine, jumps from the cabin to the floor and, with a smile, asks: «so, is this done?». And what does Mr. Armindo think of this task? “I have done a lot of service, but this I had never done before. Oh, now I'm a builder? I'm not!"
Looking around, he says: «the idea, in the end, is more or less good, now, at the beginning, I didn't think it was very good. This even turned out beautiful, with a large space». With a wide smile, she turns to Giacomo and Pedro Quintela and shoots: «Now I have to arrange an event to do something like this in the heath, in Rogil».
Proud of his work, Armindo Branco says that «when the shows start I will have to come here to see if they deserve all the work I had here». Looking at the walls of straw bales, erected plumb but describing curves in the ground, with a satisfied smile, he admits: «this is not too bad, it is a beautiful result!».
But he soon clarifies: “if I weren't used to dealing with this, I wouldn't have done it. This is a job that needs a lot of patience to deal with the bales and the machine». Patience and precision.
The idea of making a straw theater, recalls Giacomo, was given to him and Madalena two years ago by the costume designer who works with them occasionally, who one day «sent them a photograph of a straw theater in Spain» , but with round bales. «She told us: I found this image, don't you want to do this there? We liked it and, from then on, this dream was in the air. We then started to try to make the dream come true, we thought about who could idealize our straw theater and we arrived at Pedro. He is an architect who has a very strong connection with nature».
Pedro Quintela, emphasizes Giacomo, is not an architect who works on any project, this one «has to tell him something».
«He started working on this form, went through different stages to get here. In the end, we arrived at an ephemeral sculpture, which will be here for five weeks, which will then be fed back to the cows, fulfilling the destiny of the straw bales».
And this Teatro de Palha, an almost elliptical structure with organic shapes, without a roof, open to the stars, which can be seen in its entirety as the road descends from the Vila do Bispo/Carrapateira road to Vale da Vilarinha, is really a sculpture ephemeral. For that alone, it would be worth the visit, but there will be many more reasons for interest, as we will see later.
In an interview with Sul Informação, Pedro Quintela explains that he is an architect whose background is «an art school in Hamburg. The essence of my artistic soul is art, not technique. I love to make architecture as art, not as a rule or as a law. I do a lot of art, a lot of that kind of thing, but on a different scale. Only the dimension of the scale changes».
He remembers the moment when, while he was doing nudism on a beach near Sagres, Giacomo called him to invite him to this project.
«When there was this invitation, I was far from accepting a job, I was really saturated with formal architecture and its bureaucracy. But then he spoke in such a nice way, so like him, that I, while we were talking, found myself doing the drawing already in the sand, that is, he was making the invitation and I, without meaning to, was listening talking and drawing. Then, when I finished the call, I looked at the sand. Wait a second? What's going on here? It was so very instinctive”.
After a direct sitting at the drawing board – Pedro Quintela is an old-fashioned architect, he draws everything by hand – he sent the drawing to Giacomo Scalisi, even before telling him that he accepted the invitation. “When I woke up, I had messages from Giacomo who was completely excited to say that this was it. Suddenly, I found myself doing the work. He knows me well, we have the same passion for what we do. The thing began to be born, after having made the drawing, something totally felt».
And what will this Straw Theater be? Partial images have already been posted on social media to pique curiosity. And the ones that accompany this report help to give an idea. But the truth is…just going there.
Pedro Quintela points out that many people «are already used to this kind of shapes coming from me, because I only work with organic shapes, there is no right angle here, even in my houses there are no right angles, not even in the corners, as I do many metaphors with the human body».
That's why, explains the architect, «I make it a point for people to feel the works, to flow. People who enter through this door are sure not to leave the same way, all these angles, these incredible shadows that make the round curves, all these dimensions move people, whether they like it or not, whatever their age, whatever their age. child or elderly, whatever the culture. I already have this long-standing experience and it is magical».
Giacomo Scalisi reinforces: «There is an idea of a circle that is very important, also to think a little about our connections with the earth, with nature. We are here, we don't have a theater, but we set up one that is in connection with what is here, that listens. We are in the midst of a nature that dialogues with it, and then all this disappears».
As it is an ephemeral space, built in straw, safety issues were not neglected. On the afternoon when the Sul Informação visited the work, almost finished, Giacomo and the architect were having a meeting with the commander of the Aljezur Fire Brigade and with the person in charge of the Municipal Civil Protection, to define the last safety details.
The land, which belongs to Valentim, a farmer who has collaborated with Lavrar o Mar since the shows that took place in 2019, in your Monte do Paraíso, very close, it is sealed and has been all cleaned up. The theater is built in the center, away from neighboring houses or the leafy slopes of the hills that surround the valley.
Even so, after a complaint from a frightened neighbour, there were more last-minute demands and the premiere of Teatro de Palha, which should have taken place last Saturday, had to be postponed to this Friday.
who remember the The first time that this Teatro de Palha was mentioned, it will be recalled that it was planned to be built on the floodplain of Aljezur, next to the village. But they ended up moving the project to the Vilarinha valley, to Senhor Valentim's land.
“We moved here because it made sense. Valentim worked with us, he had done some projects with Madalena and me, in particular with Madalena. In the end, he has the cows and he has the straw. It made sense that Valentim's straw would be used in this project and that he would help us find more straw with other producers», says Giacomo Scalisi.
The idea of circularity, of the cycles of nature is very present even in the way in which the construction material is faced. «The idea was not to buy the bales, because, in the end, we are not going to buy them. It's a bale rental. It's a way for them to have another economic entry. The burdens were going to be stored, but in this way, when used in the theater, they are earning them money». And at the end of the five weeks, the bales will go back to what they always were: food for the cows.
In all, there are more than 900 straw bales, 300 large and more than 600 small. «The little ones all come from here, from this land, the big ones come from other places around here, like Alfambras, Maria Vinagre», adds Giacomo.
This is how, as of this Friday, July 1st, Teatro de Palha will host music shows, theatre, djs, film screenings, a new circus, dances, tango lessons, but also an exhibition of photography. The shows will take place at night, but the exhibition will always be visible on the straw walls, and can be visited, as well as the ephemeral sculpture that the theater itself is, throughout the day. The shows are paid, but the visit is free.
The exhibition is called «Essay on Visual Osmosis» and presents a selection of 23 large-format photographs that João Mariano took over the six years of Lavrar o Mar shows, in the municipalities of Aljezur and Monchique. “He made a choice of his own, from his point of view,” says Giacomo.
«In a relationship of extreme complicity, I was impregnated with the constant visual dialogues, the interaction with the public, the ubiquitous acrobatics, the eloquent poetry….I am always there, watching, working, absorbing, not as invisible as I like , but always trying to create something, as an author, that reaches, reaches and can cause reflection in the receiver», writes João Mariano, regarding his exhibition.
Because the postponement of the premiere changed the schedule, there were some changes. Thus, on Friday, July 1st, Teatro de Palha opens its doors for the first time at 21 pm, with the DJ set by Nelson Makossa, called «África em Vinil».
On Saturday, July 2, at the same time, the concert with the band «Kriol» will take place, «a journey through the sounds of the Atlantic, mainly Cape Verde, with a tropical psychedelism that is quite peculiar to them».
On Sunday, the 3rd of July, it will be the turn of the performance of «Bandalon», which was the concert scheduled for last week's premiere.
Basically, it is a show that takes the audience on a journey through the six years of «Lavrar o Mar». As Giacomo Scalisi explains, it will be «a very particular concert by André Duarte, that is, Júnior, who basically worked with us on different creations. We asked Júnior to imagine a concert based on the artistic creations he has made for Lavrar o Mar over the years. Júnior, with a group of musicians, chose an alignment» that will now be presented, but with new clothes. It will undoubtedly be a great concert and a great party.
But don't think that the program will stop here. In terms of concerts, the Carlos Bica Trio (July 16th), Bruno Pernadas (9th) or Tango Pirata (17th), among others, will visit Teatro de Palha. In cinema, for example, there will be the presentation of the film «Paraíso», the most recent by Sérgio Tréfaut (July 10), or even the premiere of «O Trilho dos Pescadores», made by the Portuguese Lourdes Picareta for the German channel ARTE (13). And Novo Circo is also planned, with «Une Partie de Soi», by João Paulo Santos (14).
Tickets for all shows cost between 5 and 10 euros and can be purchased here.
Photos: Elisabete Rodrigues | Sul Informação
STRAW THEATER - WEEK 1
1 TO 3 JULY
1 JUL – 21:30
AFRICA ON VINYL
Music · DJ Set
2 JUL – 21:30
3 JUL – 21:30
STRAW THEATER - WEEK 2
5 TO 10 JULY
5 JUL – 21:30
6 JUL – 21:30
7 JUL – 21:30
8 JUL – 21:30
MAGUPI LIVE ACT
Music · DJ Set
9 JUL – 21:30
10 JUL – 21:30
STRAW THEATER - WEEK 3
12 TO 17 JULY
12 JUL – 21:30
13 JUL – 21:30
THE TRAIL OF FISHERMEN
14 JUL – 21:30
UNE PARTIE DE SOI + CIR-K
15 JUL – 21:30
16 JUL - 21:30
CARLOS BICA TRIO
17 JUL – 19:00
Concert · Ecstatic Dance
17 JUL – 21:30
Pirate Tango + Guillotina Cumbiera
Concert · Ball | DJ Set
Important Note: the organization asks spectators to bring a pillow or a small blanket to sit on top of the straw bales. And knowing the nights on the Costa Vicentina, it is also advisable to take a warm coat and footwear suitable for a dirt floor.