For more than four years, I was part of Fc-Acto, the Lisboa’s faculty of sciences very own academic theater group. Yesterday I had the opportunity to be a spectator of one of their shows. As many other academic groups, it’s fueled mainly by the goodwill and hard work of the students/actors themselves and their director. Every year, Fc-Acto puts together a play, and frequently competes for a spot in the program of FATAL – Lisboa’s Yearly Academic Theater Festival. Groups from all over the country, together with a few foreign guest groups, perform in stages all over the city.
In its 10 years of existence, Fc-Acto has participated in a few editions of the festival, not without leaving behind blood, sweat and tears and having its moments of doubt and insecurity when faced against the admission criteria and jury for the festival. This year, Fc-Acto was, in fact, selected for the program and put forward a play called “Carbono e outros elementos“.
In natural sciences, life is all about carbon. In “Carbono” the students/actors themselves built the atmosphere and the contents of the play by bringing their own life, names, likes, pets, cellphones, music, books, photos and stories into the stage. The show is, according to its director, A. Branco, a play about the making of the play. It exhales more process than plot, and the scenes build up to become a cadavre exquis, in that each individual scene becomes interesting to watch by itself and by how it connects to the next one.
As part of the FATAL program, the actors and the director held a tertulia in the aftermath of the play. While the structure and scenic quality was under debate and mostly admired, the true elephant in the living room was the final scene of the play, where a lone actor read a few lines from a notebook into a microphone, which stood unused throughout the entire play. The lines are excerpts from public statements issued by two other academic theater groups in 2009 and 2013, accusing FATAL’s organizers of being borderline arrogant and/or disorganized altogether, and pointing out murky, flexible and unclear criteria. Isabel Tadeu, the festival’s director, who watched the play, started the tertulia by classifying the play as inelegant and disrespectful to the festival. Whether these accusations, from both parts, are true or not is left to opinion. But the word is out on the street, thanks to Fc-Acto’s bold gesture of democratic and artistic creativity.