1995


This exhibition is composed by 15 modules, each one being a small theatre where the visitor is invited to sit in a chair in the stalls and look at, through the front part of the stage, the respective stage set. Each module has a photographic image fixed in its exterior and a drawing of the set which the model refers to. The exhibition also includes a set of original drawings and posters of the plays the sets were made for.

                             

«It is common place when speaking of José Manuel Castanheira to say that he is a great creator of theatrical spaces, one of the few in Portuguese contemporary theatre. Which is the truth, but not the whole truth. Because José Manuel Castanheira is essentially, given the scenic spaces that he conceives and builds, a creator of theatrical universes.

His very personal vision, extremely rigorous and perfectly compatible with a refine sensitivity, enlightens the path that goes from the written text to its transition onto the stage, where it will be represented, whatever the model or the form adopted. The result is always surprising, whether the show occurs in unusual spaces (an old abandoned mansion, an old pottery factory, as in Uncle Vania in 1981, or The Miser in 1984), or in an Italianate scene, as is the case in the Seagull, in 1982, or in the Cherry Orchard, in 1987: in these the surprise is greater, because more is at stake and, therefore, it is more difficult to strike the right note.
The references found in his work for the stage (which goes well beyond stage sets) are to the important names in modern theatre: Appia and Craig, Meyerhold and the Russian constructivists, the German expressionists, Copeu, all those who refuse to limit theatre to the frontiers of literature and went beyond, wanting the stage to encompass the representation of the whole world. The words and the gestures of the characters happen in a universe of lines, forms and volumes, colours, lights and shadows; by evolving in that world and conveying all of these (to us, the audience) – for the creation of that universe, José Castanheira’s contribution has proved fundamental (...)»

«(...) Like an architect (which he is) José Manuel Castanheiro builds a structure from a project drawn on paper. He transforms the material idealised by the playwright, reinventing it in a multi-dimensional perspective.»

Luiz Francisco Rebello