"What is the point of words?Can we still trust words to participate in the world? Perhaps the biggest drama of contemporary societies is the feeling of helplessness that took over civil society. The everyday life offers us too many examples of the lack of will or the instability of power to listen to their citizens. We know our elected representatives, even when seriously engaged in the mission of representing their constituents, are confronted with rules of a governing system where there are many decision-making processes and even institutions that are completely disconnected from the democratic values.
Journalism is too vulnerable to economic interests and has become a shadow of the fourth power that, with deontology, is a powerful advocate for citizenship. The voices of the alternative and of civil outrage are, in many countries, swollen and blatantly manipulated by populist leaders, who prey on dissatisfaction and fear that they help to exacerbate. We live in societies where the word is silenced, adulterated or multiplied until its meaning is exhausted. True civic debate depends on little oases to continue to exist.
Perhaps the survival of citizenship depends, partially, on choosing to inhabit and to help build the places where the word still maintains some of its transformative power. Theatres are places like that. A public and national theatre like D. Maria II (in Lisbon, Portugal), with a history and a mission so strongly dependent upon the importance of the word, plays and an importance of the word, plays an important role in the making of critical thought and a capital of collective hope.
In the first few months of this year /January-March 2017/ D. Maria II programme is particularly "wordy". It's customary that this term is pejorative, but here we believe in a "wordy" world. We present performances from plays that are monuments of the word, major works of Portuguese drama, new texts or plays that talk about the transformative power of writing. We continue to spread the new poetry and present a series of performances based on the body of work of Portuguese poets. We reveal the pleasure of reading to kindergarten children and we take portable shows to high schools. We publish new plays, reissue authors and translate texts into Portuguese. We train new authors in writing labs and dramaturgy seminars. With these and many other works that you may find out about (in this programme), we reassert our trust in the word of the artists as a way to participate in the world.
So that confronted with world none of us is speechless."
Tiago Rodrigues, Director artistico.
Editorial in the programme of "Palavras para quê?", English version.
Teatro Nacional D. Maria II, Lisbon, Portugal