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  • Foto do escritorDirce Waltrick Do Amarante

Two plays based on Joyce's work

Two plays (with subtitles) based on Joyce's work to celebrate his birthday!

Welcome to Bloomusalem

By Dirce Waltrick do Amarante

It is said that the Irish writer James Joyce (1882-1941) wrote a single play, Exiles (1918), which, according to the critics, is far from the boldness of the author's other works, such as the short stories of Dubliners (1914) and his two last novels, Ulysses (1922) and Finnegans Wake (1939).

I believe, however, that Joyce is the author of not one, but two plays: the second is “Circe” (the sorceress of Greek mythology, specialist in poisons and drugs), as the episode XV of his most famous novel, Ulysses, is known. The novel is composed of eighteen episodes, written in different narrative forms.

Episode XV, which explores the writing of dramatic texts, takes place at night on a street with brothels. In almost 200 pages, more than two dozen characters act and everything speaks: objects, nature; and therefore, the noise is intense. The characters are drunk, tired, the atmosphere is dreamlike and, as in a dream, or delirium, anything can happen: judgment, birth, death; the deceased return and there are abrupt changes, without a narrative thread.

In the year of the centenary of Ulysses, originally published in 1922, it seemed interesting to me to explore Joyce's dramaturgy with the Performing Arts students at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, where I teach.

We adapt not only episode XV of the Joycean odyssey, but also episode XVIII, which is a monologue, that of Marion (Molly) Bloom, wife of Leopold Bloom, the Jewish protagonist of the novel. The monologue spans over 100 pages without punctuation and is considered one of the high points of world literature.

In the adaptation proposed by the students, episode XV of the novel, translated by Bernardina Pinheiro and Caetano Galindo, was condensed into about 30 pages in which the figure of Leopold Bloom stands out.

We discuss the scenario proposals based mainly on a work by Lygia Pape (1927-2004), Divisor, which is a performance from the 1960s in which people walk under a white cloth with their heads out. The performance discusses individual freedom in society. Proposing a similar performance, the play also deals with individual freedom (of the Irish, Jews, women, etc.) in a society colonized by England, anti-Semitic and under the yoke of the Catholic Church.

Pape's work also helped to think about the costumes, or the non-costumes, since everyone would have part of the body under the cloth.

The light was designed having as a model the work Roda dos Prazeres, also by the Brazilian artist, created in the 1960s.

On stage, we realized that certain choices that appeared in the adapted text could not be sustained outside the paper. The stage then changed the dramatic text. During the process, characters disappeared, and others emerged with the withdrawal of participants. This was the case with the horse's head, which emerged to make up for the absence of an actor. In addition, it refers to dreams and delirium, something completely nonsensical and surreal in the style of the film The Phantom of Liberty (1974), by Spanish filmmaker Luis Buñuel (1900-1983).

Nothing was by chance in this process, even though chance was fundamental to the creation of the piece.


Two versions of My Little Ireland:

My Little Ireland

Dirce Waltrick do Amarante

The play My Little Ireland merges the eighth chapter of Finnegans Wake (also known as “Anna Livia Plurabelle”) and Joyce’s letters to Nora Barnacle, 8 then soon-to-be Mrs. Joyce. In Chapter VIII, two washerwomen wash clothes and talk about Anna Livia and Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker (HCE), the main characters of Joyce’s last novel.

If life and fiction mix up in Joyce’s works, as many scholars affirm, one could say that HCE suggests the profile of Joyce and Anna Livia impersonates his wife Nora. “My Little Ireland”, as Joyce referred to Nora in one of his letters, tries do put on stage the couple’s relationship through letters and fiction.

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