Meio no Meio is a creation by Victor Hugo Pontes, which reflects a three-year process with an intergenerational group from four territories - Almada, Barreiro, Lisbon and Moita - joined by other professional performers, in a work that combines and portrays the different artistic paths of those on stage. Accompanying the lives of these participants over three years during a pandemic, Meio no Meio is based on the ideas of journey and expectation, memory and autobiography, and the incessant movement of bodies pushed to the limit by Victor Hugo Pontes.


1. Territories

MnM_EncontroPartilha_Fev2020_Barreiro © BrunoCastro-44
MnM_EncontroPartilha_Fev2020_Barreiro © BrunoCastro-40
MnM_EncontroPartilha_Fev2020_Barreiro © BrunoCastro-43
MnM_EncontroPartilha_Fev2020_Barreiro © BrunoCastro-42

If you do not know the place and look on the map at the four neighborhoods of "Middle in Middle Project" – Trafaria (Almada), Old Barreiro, Marvila (Lisbon) and Vale da Amoreira (Moita) –, you will notice all are on the banks of Tagus River and you might think that they are close to one another and close in a straight line to the historic center of the country capital. But this is an abstract sight to be seen only on the map. In everyday life, these are peripheral locations in the metropolitan area of Lisbon, quite different social worlds established in the urban landscape. Inhabitans in these neighborhoods who work, study or socialize in the city center devote daily several hours to commuting, especially when using public transport.

Marvila and Vale da Amoreira are municipal relocation neighborhoods, located in areas of urban void, or rather, in areas where urban construction borders the remnants of rural space at the city's gates. Urban infrastructure or comfortable public space is often lacking; on the other hand, you can see vegetable gardens and the occasional herd evocative of the countryside. Segundo Torrão (Trafaria, Almada) is a shantytown, whose origins the oldest inhabitants date back to fisherman's huts used for the summer of residents of popular neighborhoods in Lisbon; a panorama that has changed a lot in recent decades, with the arrival of migrant populations in search of work and who settle there in precarious conditions. In old Barreiro we can observe remains of the ancient working-class village, its historical cultural associations, but also degraded buildings, sometimes vacant or occupied by squatters, and the riverfront facing Lisbon suspended in a qualification process still to happen.

The four neighborhoods are different from each other and represent different historical moments in the formation of urban peripheries around Lisbon, both during the twentieth century and also already this century. There is a common thread though: migratory flows are an essential part in the history of all neighborhoods. Migratory experience of some kind – personal or family – is therefore common among the participants of "Middle in the Middle Project": in some cases, the displacement from the province to the capital, perhaps involving emigration abroad at some point; in others, immigration from other countries (especially Portuguese-speaking African countries) to Portugal, which may even be just a crossing point in the diaspora.

The collective even if differentiated experience of displacement becomes an important biographical material recreated in the artistic practice of project's participants.

MnM_EncontroPartilha_Fev2020_Barreiro © BrunoCastro-39
MnM_EncontroPartilha_Fev2020_Barreiro © BrunoCastro-38
MnM_EncontroPartilha_Fev2020_Barreiro © BrunoCastro-37
MnM_EncontroPartilha_Fev2020_Barreiro © BrunoCastro-41


2. Along the way – the first year

At this moment, now, more than two and a half years after having started together a path of discovery and experimentation, the question is inevitable:

– Is it really possible that "Middle in the Middle" is approaching its end?

SWe are about 70 participants in this project, inhabitants of 4 different neighborhoods in the Lisbon region – some arrived from different parts of the country and the world, some long ago and others recently. A long journey must start somewhere, and in this case it happened in the spring of 2019, with theater training sessions in Barreiro; some ice breaking games, then dramaturgical exercises, a lot of improvisation and, almost without realizing it, the first public presentation to the community, a collection of dramaturgical exercises about personal memories and experiences – this is but the first try and we will be doing this work several times in the near future, in different ways and using various artistic languages.

Before the summer arrives, the film training at Trafaria, between the darkness of the room where some classic movies or documentaries are seen and the sunny sidewalk where the short film "Bilingueiros" was filmed – the film is out there to be seen. In autumn came the hip-hop formation in Vale da Amoreira. Some of us came with some experience, and already views on youtube; also among us some others didn't really know what hip-hop was or could be… but then came the rap battles battles – by that time we all went into the studio, all behind the M'n'M Power Girls! By the end of the year, we were trying yet another artistic method: the visual arts training in Marvila explored different supports, once again around autobiographical materials and the representation of oneself – through many different images, except selfiesDance came as a different challenge, first in Barreiro and then in other neighborhoods – short time, full intensity.

And so went the first year. Actually, not yet… at the moment of completing the first year, the Gulbenkian Foundations's "Isto é Partis Program" provided the unexpected challenge and opportunity to present the project to a larger audience at the Marvila Library's Auditorium – first anxiety and then an explosive delivery! We didn't know it at the time, but soon after, just a few weeks later, the pandemic was to reach Europe, turning everything upside down…

0701_∏ Jose Caldeira
012_projecto Meio no Meio (aula Hip-Hop)_©brunosimao_
0002_(c) Jose Caldeira (1)
MnM_ArtesPlasticas_Artemrede_Barreiro © BrunoCastro-9
MnM_Teatro_Artemrede_Almada © BrunoCastro-10


3. Along the way - the year of the plague

Suddenly everything stopped, just like everywhere else around us. A new film course was starting, the theatre course was also being prepared, and everything came to a standstill.

The question - what now?

We'll have to stop, we'll have to start again, we'll have to find ourselves - but how? Some solution will have to be found, we'll have to try something new, we'll have to find ourselves... And so today and many times over the next few months, always trying out job opportunities - will it open? when will it open? -always starting again almost from scratch, but not quite from scratch, looking for a step forward. Always looking for a way not to stop, not to be left behind, not to be left behind.

Just like everywhere else around us, the first attempt at resistance was to dive into the square world of conference calls and messaging groups, just to see each other, to say that we're here, even if we're far away, close by. Not all of us have the computer we need, or the mobile phone, or the network, or the data, or the time, or the company, or the comfort. Contact is needed more than ever. And for a few weeks we do and invent this simulacrum from a distance, theatre on the screens, whole choreographies in facial expression, videos in a weird corpse, staged portraits in which we exchange skins with each other - cheating time, carrying on.

In the brief interruption of the summer and autumn, we met again, we already knew that it would be a short reunion, but a reunion, a different way of being, smaller meetings, groups counted on the fingers, permanent surveillance of gestures, but a reunion.

And yet, discovery, new cycles, again dance, cinema, theatre, visual arts, hip-hop. The group splits up and comes together, we manage to take the middle way.

Finally, we all managed to meet up again on a sunny Sunday afternoon in Marvila, along paths known and unknown. It seems a long time ago, but it's not the end.


4. Artistic rituals

"Everyone can do the exercise for as long as they feel comfortable."

The beginning starts at the beginning and in the first formations the beginning is games to break the ice, say the name, create the group. The simplest exercise is to form a circle, have everyone say their name in turn, memorise all the names, call out a name and change places, leave the game if you miss the name.

Another day, perhaps in a different formation, bring an object from home, associate it with the name, tell an episode from your personal history. At each step a story with a more vivid memory, a succession of episodes, a self-narrative, various narratives, sometimes joking, sometimes serious. Other times it's not a narrative, it's a drawing, a photograph - other times it's an improvised scene, a falsified story, an entire invented biography, a rap rhyme that sounds like a stray fado, little pieces of history.

In the final phase of the project, after the artistic training, during the residency to create the show, there's a return to those initial exercises of presenting oneself - first of all the name, what's in a name? what's the story of the name? But now it's not just within the group, it's not just for those who are already known, it's for the public - and it's already tomorrow.

Now on stage, it's no longer exactly everyone's story, who knows, maybe the story happened but under another name in another place, is that true, maybe it didn't happen exactly like that, but it was felt like that and that's the only way it can be told - maybe it's a truer story?

Perhaps the portrait is truer when we put ourselves in the other person's shoes.

Is the stage a sacred place?

"Good evening, this is happening before it starts."

0063_© Jose Caldeira

Rui Telmo Gomes | Researcher CIES-Iscte

"About two and a half years ago the Meio no Meio project began, the subject of a research project on participatory artistic practices that I started at the same time. The plan called for two years of artistic training in different areas (dance, theatre, visual arts, cinema, hip-hop) and a third year dedicated to putting on an original show. I took part in the training with the other participants and played the audience in rehearsals before there was an audience. That was the plan, but of course what has happened so far couldn't have been predicted. These are some of the notes I've been taking." 

Rui Telmo Gomes is a researcher at CIES-Iscte. He has a PhD in Sociology (2013, Iscte-Instituto Universitário de Lisboa). He carries out research in the fields of the sociology of art and culture, focusing on themes such as: participatory artistic processes; artistic professions and the creative sector; cultural policies. She is a member of the OPAC team - Portuguese Observatory of Cultural Activities. His research project on Meio no Meio will be published in 2021.



ARTISTIC DIRECTOR Victor Hugo Pontes SCRIPT Joana Craveiro SET DESIGN F. Ribeiro MUSIC Marco Castro e Igor Domingues (Throes + The Shine) TECHNICAL DIRECTION AND LIGHTING DESIGN Wilma Moutinho COSTUMES Catarina Pé-Curto e Victor Hugo Pontes Vídeo Maria Remédio SCRIPT ASSISTANT Madalena Alfaia CAST Alegria Gomes, Benedito José, Dúnia Semedo, João Pataco, Leopoldina Félix, Luís Nunes, Maria Augusta Ferreira, Mavatiku José, Nérida Rodrigues, Paulo Mota, Ricardo Cardoso Teixeira, Rolaisa Embaló, Sidolfi Katendi, Teresa Amaral, Valter Fernandes, Yana Suslovets PRODUCTION MANAGEMENT Joana Ventura EXEC PRODUCTION Mariana Lourenço




ALMADA   | Joaquim Benite Municipal Theatre | 11 (20h00) and 12 (16h00) September 2021
BARREIRO   | Augusto Cabrita Municipal Auditorium | 2 and 3 July 2021
LISBOA   | São Luiz Municipal Theatre | 22, 23 (20h00) and 24 (17h30) October 2021
MOITA   | Fórum Cultural José Manuel Figueiredo | 4 and 5 June 2021



Two generations, four territories, countless memories and motivations.

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Valter Fernandes


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Teresa Amaral


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Luís Nunes


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Maria Augusta Ferreira


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Yana Suslovets


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Sidolfi Katendi


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João Pataco


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Alegria Gomes


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Victor Hugo Pontes



Benedito José


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Rolaisa Embaló


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Dúnia Semedo


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Paulo Mota

Santa Cruz do Bispo

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Ricardo Teixeira


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Nérida Rodrigues


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Leopoldina Félix


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Mavatiku José


Meio No Meio is our project selected in the framework of PARTIS from Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian. Designed for a three year period (2019 - 2021), the project has coreographer Victor Hugo Pontes as artistic director and the partnership of Nome Próprio, RUMO-Cooperativa Social (social assessment), CIES-IUL | Centro de Investigação e Estudos de Sociologia do Instituto Universitário de Lisboa (impact report) and 4 municipalities within Artemrede network: Almada, Barreiro, Moita and Lisboa.

Meio No Meio gathers young adults ages between 16 and 25 and adults over 45, from 4 specific territories: 2º Torrão da Trafaria (Almada), Barreiro Antigo, Vale da Amoreira (Moita) and Marvila (Lisboa).

In 2019 and 2020, participants enrol in several training and research sessions in 5 different artistic areas (drama, cinema, visual arts, rap/hip-hop and dance), guided by artists themselves from those territories and by the artistic director.

These artists-trainers are Catarina Pé-Curto (visual arts, Almada), Carina Silva (drama, Barreiro), Mário Ventura (cinema, Moita), Nuno Varela ( Rap/Hip-Hop, Lisboa) and Victor Hugo Pontes himself (dance - discipline that makes the project come together).

In 2021, Vale da Amoreira Center for Artistic Experimentation (Moita) will host the creative residency for the show Meio No Meio, that represents the end of a 3 year project. The show will then be presented in the 4 municipalities, and is also co-produced by São Luiz Teatro Municipal, in Lisboa.

All the training and creation process is to be documented and will result in a full feature documentary, to be premiered in 2021.

Meio no Meio is Artemredes' second project in the framework of the PARTIS initiative. The first one, ODISSEIA, was based in 6 municipalities and resulted in a show (E Agora Nós!, by Rui Catalão), (Histórias em Viagem, from Radar 360º) and a film-concert (Curtas-Migratórias, by António-Pedro/Caótica).

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English (UK)