In tandem with my other post about my recent visit to Portugal with the Lincoln STORM team, there is a show that we went to see by our Portuguese partners -Fatias de Cá, called the Name of the Rose, whilst there that I really must mention.
Allow me to set the scene: It is pouring with rain outside, it’s been fairly warm outside all day but just as we were about to head off to see this show, the heavens open. It’s also thundering and lightning like the gods are having bust-up. Suffice to say, it’s pretty dramatic. (Obviously they couldn’t control the weather but it certainly enhanced the experience for me)
We trundle into an amazingly huge preserved historic old convent, the Convento de Cristo to be precise and have the chance to dry off a little and have a glass of wine before the show begins. We are then escorted into a room by a what appears to be a monk, with a robe and hood, and the show begins.
It lasts for around 5 hours. Sounds tedious, but it was amazing. Punctuated with 5 courses of a humble but delicious meal, including figs and walnuts, cheesy garlic bread, soup and a hunk of bread, rice and chicken, apple cake with mulled wine and lastly coffee and egg cake. Served at intervals by the monks/performers, at a medieval table, with simple clay mugs and plates and a wooden spoon. And all washed down by good home-grown wine. But of course the food was not the focus.
The performance, entirely in Portuguese (which I have only a tiny grasp of) was straightforward enough to follow, and although very wordy, we managed to follow the action by tone of voice, body language and the help of a little translation from our friends. For each scene the audience were simply ushered in and out of nooks and crannies, up steep wooden spiralling staircases, and through long dark passages (sometimes literally pitch black for effect) which led to rooms that undoubtedly would be difficult for the public to access on a normal tourist visit to the convent, and the action would unfold, sometimes candlelit, sometimes outdoors (thankfully the weather cleared up by then) lit by mere moonlight and stars and towards the end as the convent was set ‘on fire’, with special ‘FX’ lighting and flame torches. Occasionally there wasaccompaniment of the ‘monks’ singing ghostly hymns that reverberated around the walls eerily from some unknown location. They even had the audience on different levels at some points, observing from overlooking balconies, or sat gazing upwards at a flickering candle between two actors on top of a wooden structure.
The storyline of The Name of the Rose, from what I could ascertain was centred around the mystery of a spate of ongoing murders at the convent, and a detective William Baskerville and his young apprentice had been called in to solve the case. Delving into confusing realms of red herrings and hearsay, the two investigators explored different accusations and encountered superstitions, Templar histories, and pagan witchcraft. Most of the details escaped me but for the sheer atmosphere and experience, I was totally awed. Thanks to the excellent use of the ancient, crumbling, charismatic building which looked like it belonged on the set of Harry Potter, or some other fantastical world.
In regards to our performance there was a lot we could learn from this show which has enjoyed 6 years worth of audiences every weekend all year round. The simple but firm ushering of the audiences to follow the actors, the providence of food and drink to sweeten the pill of having to trundle around, the forethought of sounds, light, location of each scene, atmosphere, levels. All things that we need to consider particularly since we have the great fortune of having a beautiful old site ourselves to explore. It was certainly a multi-disciplinary piece, yet not a technologic device in sight. Multi-sensory yes, multi-media (in the technologic signification) no. Success? Most definitely.
By Sylvia Entwistle.
Submitted on 2012/04/25 at 6:20 pm
Thank you Sylvia
I will follow through on your suggestion nearer to our dates.
I am pleased that I could find verification that this could be
available to us to experience.
You’re most welcome, it’s great stumbling on useful info in that way isn’t it?
That is incredibly early planning and I don’t believe you can buy tickets this early, however,
here is the website of the theatre company who put on the show where you can buy tickets for this year.
It is all in portuguese, however on the calendar you can click on the performance date to buy tickets for that show by pressing ‘comprar’ and then it is pretty simple to work out the step by step instructions.
Hopefully nearer the time tickets will become available. They cost €33,33 per head.
Additionally, the lady who commented above you, Claudia Gomes, is in the theatre company itself and she also speaks English if you need any further info. I’m sure she would be happy to help :]
Submitted on 2012/04/23 at 9:55 pm
Thank you for detailing your experience…
I stumbled on your writing and got all excited to see your recent March dates…
my hopes have been sparked.
Lonely Planet mentions this event but I find non English info.
We are coming in to Tomar Sunday March 10 2013 in specific hope of getting
to this theatre production The Name of the Rose.
even the tourist studio Casa Rosden in Tomar we have reserved didn’t know of what I was speaking when I asked about the production so it must not be widely advertised.
How would one get tickets?
I would really hate to arrive only to find everything sold out while here I am working on it a year ahead!
Any info would be appreciated if you could supply it.
Submitted on 2012/04/19 at 5:04 pm
Lovely! I am glad you liked it. Thank you for coming to Portugal.