the project

The Vigilâmbulo Caolho project started in the cycle of Staged Lectures, in Arteviva – Theatre Company of Barreiro, where Pedro Manuel and Ricardo Guerreiro worked together in the adaptation of Branca de Neve / Snow White, by Robert Walser, in 2003.

In the next year, they created together the play O Armário / The Closet, a performance on the portuguese revolution. This performance revealed a common interest in creating a performance arts project, having ideas for performances and staging of texts, artistic and aesthetic contexts, crossing theatre, literature and visual arts.

It was 2005 and we published an introduction in the first performance programme:

"The collective Vigilâmbulo Caolho has as main activity the production of performances marked by a simultaneous interest on the scholar and on the popular, through adapted works and original creations, instalations and editions, here and there, saying the same or the opposite.

We want to play with two things at the same time, theatre and visual arts, aesthetics and folclore, local and global, history and stories, the ordinary and the extraordinary, always looking for contact and confrontation, associating or dissociating.

We recognise in theatre the force of the unusual event, extraordinary, artificial, his capacity to become visible and sensitive, his power of political intervention, a space for aesthetic reinvention of the world, the experience of events, the transformation of events into memory"

the name

"Vigilâmbulo" is a name that combines "vigilante" with "sonâmbulo" (sleepwalker) and it names a clinic state of doubling of personality, between being awake and sleeping.
"Caolho" is a popular expression for strabismus.

Therefore, "Vigilâmbulo Caolho" is about doubles, about associations and dissociations, simultaneous. It is not a intermediate state but a paradoxal way of being. A figure for irony, at the same time comic and tragic, lifelike and fake, a chameleon with one eye each way.
At the same time, it is a name that, being made of portuguese words, sounds strange, maybe foreigner: "It is, in two words, a difficult word to say."

The collective

Vigilâmbulo Caolho has been a three years project during which we produced six plays. During this period, the project also became part of Júlio Mesquita, actor, and Sara Franqueira, cenographer, being part of the collective, since the beggining.

The project was mainly Barreiro based, a city next to Lisbon, on the other side of the river, and where all elements were living. Vigilâmbulo Caolho worked mostly at Auditório Municipal Augusto Cabrita, being funded by Town Hall.

Barreiro has an interesting history of immigrants. Being a fishing village, it is completely transformed by the installation of massive industrial complex in the beggining of XXth century, attracting thousands of workers from all the country, especially from the south, Alentejo. Then, ater the Revolution, the position of the city in the outskirts of Lisbon, made it prefereable for immigrants coming from Africa and, finally, the last migrantes are all those workers that still travel daily to Lisbon.

The play Fábrica / Factory, by Ascanio Celestini evoked the industrial era and the importance of personal stories and local characters. Also based on real events and people was País Imaginário / Imaginary Country a performance of immobility while telling the story of a country and its inhabitants.

On other hand, Vigilâmbulo Caolho developed a special relation to one of the most talented new portuguese writers, Gonçalo M. Tavares, having staged three plays: Debaixo da cidade / Under the City, an experimentation on voices and absence of actors; A Promessa / The Promise a radio play; and Senhor Valéry/ Mister Valéry a childrens play on absurd and repetition of daily life.

In the meantime, we had what we called "the informals", a kind of performance where the only two rules were: accept every idea; prepare it in two weeks.
It worked brilliantly as a test tube for lost ideas and to recycle after a long artistic process in the more "formal" performances. It was a liberation gesture. It was nonsense.
We did two: o amor e gratis / love is for free where we created a biographical performance, paying the audience for their free ticket; and Fin Departure - a mare e gratis / Fin Departure - the tide is for free performed on the beach, on the idea of End of a Party.