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Rui Catalão

Mal de Ulisses






In the first year that I worked on the Mal de Ulisses project, I collected many testimonies with the life stories of immigrants. I focused on the reasons why they left their countries, their families, how they arrived in Portugal and what has happened to them since. In a scene from Pasolini's film The Hawks and the Sparrows, the comedian Totó plays a Franciscan friar obsessed with evangelizing migratory birds. For years, he imitates their songs, tries to learn their language, but is unable to communicate. Finally, he realizes that birds communicate through their movements. This episode was the starting point for the version of Mal de Ulisses that I worked on in Porto with three interpreters from three corners of Brazil, Nickita, a Cape Verdean, and Alina, a Ukrainian.
The writer Joseph Roth said of emigrants that "they assimilate to our sad condition of life not too slowly, as is often pointed out, but too quickly." During rehearsals, several scenes were created in which the same protocol was repeated over and over again: starting from an inaugural gesture, the dancers had to generate a movement vocabulary common to all, no matter how elementary. Only then were they free to explore more individual aspects, which the group then had to add to the collective. While choosing musical themes, I discovered an old record of Brazilian birdsongs where I learned about the existence of the pitiguari, also known as "gente-de-fora-vem", which owes its name to its reputation for announcing the arrival of strangers. It was then that an accident forced me to think about this: how do birds fly if they break a leg? — Rui Catalão




Colour photograph. Perspective of a tunnel, in the centre a female figure. At the end of the tunnel, a pink house and the blue sky.

© DR

Colour photograph. A person dressed in black, upside down, stands with his feet on a shipping container.

© DR

Colour photography. A black man sitting on top of a shipping container with his head turned towards the horizon.

© DR

Info sobre horário e bilhetes





Campo AlegreAuditorium


Aditional info

  • Price 
  • Duration 

  • Age rating 
    To be assigned by CCE
  • Additional information
    Spoken in Portuguese with Portuguese subtitles

Acessibilidades do espetáculo

Accessible to wheelchair users

Author's bio text

Rui Catalão is a dramatist and director. He makes scenic documentaries that are intensely choreographed and where he crosses chronicles of everyday life, one the one hand, and memory and generational identity, on the other hand. His last plays with this group were: Ao abrigo da distância and Ivone!. He also directed other plays that involved communal work: Assembleia, Judite, Jornalismo Amadorismo Hipnotismo and Cortes. He adapted the biblical characters Ester and Judite to the stage. He wrote the screenplays for Morrer como um Homem and O Capacete Dourado, as well as monographs on the work of Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker, Tiago Rodrigues, Ana Borralho and João Galante. Following a career as journalist, he started his artistic work with choreographer João Fiadeiro (1999-2003). He lived and worked in Romania, where he was a part of the local upcoming contemporary dance scene (2005-2009). He writes for the Público newspaper every now and then, and he is a chronicler at the GQ magazine.  

Ficha Técnica

  • Performerd by
    Alina Bilokon, Nickita Bulú, Allian Fernando, Hewerthon Soares, Leo Tulipa

    Directed by
    Rui catalão

    Technical direction
    João Chicó

    Creation assistance
    Ana Rocha

  • Head of Production
    Marta Moreira

    Produced by

    Co-produced by
    Teatro Municipal do Porto, Festival TODOS – Caminhada de Culturas , Futurama, Binaural Nodar, Teatro das Figuras, Fórum Cultural José Manuel Figueiredo/Centro de Experimentação Artística

    República Portuguesa – Cultura / Direção-Geral das Artes, Fundação GDA

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