The Little Red Riding Hood, whose plot loosely inspires a stage show we present at the Manobras Festival this year, features a character whose big eyes, big ears and big mouth fascinate and scare us at the same time. That sort of duality – attraction versus fear – is similar to the impact the arts generally provoke in a big part of the population. On the one hand, there is curiosity. On the other hand, a certain distance remains. And that distance is the result of fear to leave and explore the hoods; as one might end up lost or eaten up by our own references and prejudices.

Aware of it, we have decided to create groups of spectators in several cities which are associated members of Artemrede. For several months, these groups were coordinated by a local curator. They watched shows, they discussed what they saw and, along with other groups, they selected some of the titles which are part of the festival this year. We have called them Visionários (Visionaries), but actually, they could be seen as an alternative version of the wolf: their eyes are big so they can see further, their ears are big so they can ear better, their mouth is big so they can argue proposals. With this initiative, we hope, we have contributed for people traditionally disconnected from the arts to adventure themselves in the enigmatic paths of cultural curation, to question themselves and to evolve both as spectators and citizens. We also believe that this was a constructive experience for our associated theatre venues. It helped them to get closer to their neighbours and to establish stronger and longer-term connections with their communities. Thanks to Visionários, this festival is more participative and, consequently, more democratic. We acknowledge the enthusiasm and the generosity of the Visionários as well as the commitment of the local curators who embraced this initiative from its very beginning.

Besides the big bad wolf, other renowned references stand out in the line-up. Peter Pan and the Brothers Grimm were also starting points for other stage shows, in an explicit return to the universe of familiar fairy tales. The line-up also includes workshops and other titles for both children and adults, like a Baroque opera with puppets which revisits an 18th century Portuguese classic. Like in 2017, the tours (combined with stage shows) return and there are two new cinematic works commissioned for the cities of Tomar and Sobral de Monte Agraço. Last but not the least, on Halloween Night, the Teatro-Cine of Pombal hosts the closing (and haunted) party of the festival. Not to be missed!

All this happens in 11 associated municipalities of Artemrede: Abrantes, Alcanena, Alcobaça, Barreiro, Moita, Montijo, Palmela, Pombal, Santarém, Sobral de Monte Agraço and Tomar. Come and join us!

Marta Martins - Executive Director. Artemrede