Before is a small jewel of new Portuguese theatre. Recently presented at the ISKV Tiyatro Festivali in Istanbul, Théâtre de la Ville in Paris and at Hiroshima in Barcelona, Pedro Penim’s text deals with irony and humour about feelings of nostalgia and attachment to the past.
Presented as an “atlas of melancholy”, the performance identifies a kind of latent unease related to ancestral events present in the whole of Europe.
Was our past really as “glorious” as we think? To what extent should we identify with this past?
Before talks about the urge to go back in time, understood as a glorious and desirable time before a painful present. This pain, shared by many civilizations through history, is a diagnosis of the end of an era. To construct this diagnosis, Pedro Penim dares to challenge a Tyrannosaurus rex and a fairly sceptical post-modern psychoanalyst.
It is a hilarious and bitter dialogue that offers food for thought about the future of our civilization and its inclination to care about ghosts and mythologies of fallen empires.
The piece was recently adapted for the cinema (Past Perfect) by the director Jorge Jácome (also responsible for the videos of the performance) and formed part of the official selection at the Berlinale 2019, New Directors / New Films in the 2019 in MoMA – New York and the Hong Kong International Film Festival 2019.
Pedro Penim was invited for Encontros de DeVIR (and in collaboration with New Theatre Encounters in Coimbra and with Teatro Prago) to create a spectacle that began with a residence in the town of São Brás de Alportel in the Algarve (sometimes called Gharb al-Andalus
The company was founded in 1995 and is based in the Rua das Gaviotas in Lisbon. It is a regular collaborator with some of the most prestigious cultural institutions and has performed in festivals and theatres in a number of European countries (Italy, the UK, Spain, Germany, France, Belgium, Hungary, Slovenia, Estonia, Denmark and Poland) and in Israel and China. Teatro Praga is a collective, an association of artists that plays with the established order and looks at unpredictable variations that it is subject to as a form of understanding the concept of predictability. It tends to answer the question about Who? with a reformulation of the question itself.
He is one of the artistic directors of the Teatro Praga. His work as director and actor also extends to writing, talks, translation and training. He has worked across the whole of Portugal and in France, Italy, Brazil, the UK, China, Germany, Spain, Slovakia, Turkey, Israel, Slovenia, Norway and Hungary.
Recently, his work Antes / Before was used as the script for the film Past Perfect by Jorge Jácome, which formed part of the official entry for the Berlinale 2019. Outside the Teatro Praga he has worked with British Forced Entertainment (Quizoola!, 2014) the Belgian company tg STAN (Point Blank, 1998), Ant Hampton and Tim Etchells (The Quiet Volume, 2012) and Nassim Suleimanpour (White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, 2019).