Observation #1

Integral observation

The observers are engaged in the sharing of a communal place and time integrating the spectator in the creative laboratory and the germination of ideas as in the life of the company.

Teatro O Bando - João Brites

All photographs © Argos

Palmela, Portugal, April 2019

The integrated observation of the creative process of the performance O Purgatório/A Divina Comédia, adapted from Dante’s Divine Comedy by the theater company Teatro O Bando, took place in Vale de Barris (Palmela, Portugal) in April 2019. The aim was to constitute a large community of 25 observers (consisting of researchers, artists, cultural mediators, spectators and students), equipped with the same observation tools (namely a Rocketbook digital notebook) and prerogatives (a.o. a precise observation protocol). The goal for this community of observers was to grasp the fundaments of this theatrical creative process, through a week of immersion in three different workplaces, namely the facilities of the headquarters of the theater company in Vale de Barris (Palmela), the rehearsal space of the Setúbal amateur choir in the city center (approximately ten kilometers from the headquarters) and, finally, the Avenida da Liberdade, in Lisbon (more than forty kilometers from Palmela), the emblematic place of commemoration parades of the Carnation Revolution of April 25, 1974.

Building the community of ARGOS observers was an ongoing process in which the observer was invited to create a discourse on his observations and to share these with the community of artists and observers in which he was inserted. One of the main questions that emerged from this experimentation was about the boundaries between the space of observation and the space of creation, as these became more and more intertwined through meta-reactions and meta-analyzes, both by the artists and the observers, both during and after the week of observation (produced for example in questionnaires, audio and video interviews, etc.).

This exercise of reflexion on the creative gesture, that staged the action of both observing and being observed, circumscribed the integrated observation set up at the Teatro O Bando in a gesture of strengthening the cultural and social character of the theatrical practice.

Within this experiment, the production of a field of ‘augmented gazes’ was being concretized by the implementation of new modalities to save, share and research traces of the creative process.

The spaces

Photo of the interior set used during the video interviews made by Hirton Fernandes

Photo of the outdoor space during the audio interviews: Séverine Leroy, Eleni Papalexiou, Luk Van den Dries

Photo from the outdoor stage during rehearsals with the Amateur Choir of Setúbal

Rehearsals of Purgatório

Photo of rehearsal with the Amateur Choir of Setúbal. From bottom to top:  Séverine Leroy, Clara Bento (costume designer and props), Eleni Papalexiou, Sophie Lucet, Maria João Brilhante, Luk Van den Dries, Hirton Fernandes) and Jorge Salgueiros  (composer and maestro)

Photo of a rehearsal, on the foreground the observers (Séverine Leroy, Sophie Lucet, João Brites, Fabiana Mercadante, Hirton Fernandes); on the second plan the artists: Rita Brito (actress), Dora Sales (assistant director and scenography), Nélson Monforte (actor), Miguel Jesus (dramaturgy), Juliana Pinho (corality)  

Photo of the annotation work of one of the observer-researchers (Sophie Proust)

Guiding of the actors by João Brites (director) and Juliana Pinho (coral)

Rehearsal with actors

Rehearsal with actors

Feedback and discussion after rehearsal

Inclusion of observers in the creative process (Luk Van den Dries and Eleni Papalexiou under the direction of Juliana Pinho (on the far left)

Props and costume design

Presentation by costume designer Clara Bento

Presentation by Juliana Pinho on some accessories


‘vivência’ by actor Nélson Monforte during the April 25 Manifestation (Commemoration of the Carnation Revolution): João Brites, Dora Sales, Nélson Monforte  

Presentation of vivéncia

Presentation of vivência

Argos meeting

Argos meeting with the research team (from left to right, Brigitte Prost, Edith Cassiers, Sophie Lucet, Luk Van den Dries, Eleni Papalexiou, Sophie Proust, Séverine Leroy, Ana Clara Santos)

General rehearsal

Photo’s by Rita Santana and Miguel Mares / arquivo Teatro O Bando

Interview with doctoral student Fabiana on her reflections and impressions during the creative process of the Purgatório

Interview with researcher Eleni Papalexiou on her reflections and impressions during the creative process of the Purgatório

Interview with researcher Edith Cassiers on her reflections and impressions during the creative process of the Purgatório 

Audio recording made by Séverine Leroy on April 27 during the last rehearsal observed by the Argos community at the Teatro O Bando

Recording produced by Luk Van den Dries on his impressions during his observation of the creation process of the Purgatório at Teatro O Bando

Audio-documentary made by Séverine Leroy on the experimentation of ARGOS at Teatro O Bando