When I heard that Inside the Wild Heart, a new immersive play, based upon the writings of Clarice Lispector, who was one of the most influential Jewish writers, was coming to New York, I immediately thought of my grandparents, who were proud Zionists, and as a little homage to them, I felt compelled to find out more. I found out Group .BR (the only Brazilian Theater group in NYC) was presenting this show & Brazilian artist Andressa Furletti, one of Group .BR's founders was going to be starring in this show. So, I called & Andressa answered!
Inside the Wild Heart is a fully immersive theatrical experience showcasing the work of Clarice Lispector, Brazil's most acclaimed female Jewish writer, transporting audiences directly inside Lispector’s heart & creating an experience that encourages audiences to engage with literature on a sensory level. The show integrates visual arts, film, music & performance art, which embodies the writer’s deepest feelings, serving as an entry point to Clarice's incredible work, still mostly unknown in the US.
Inside the Wild Heart will be presented from November 3-20 at Immersive Gallery (132 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, NY), performed both in English & Portuguese. Click here for tickets!
1. This November, your theatre company, Group.BR, NYC's only Brazilian Theater group is presenting Inside The Wild Heart, a fully immersive theatrical experience showcasing the work of Clarice Lispector, Brazil's most acclaimed Jewish female writer. When were you first introduced to Clarice Lispector's work? From there, when did you go, I need to create a show around her work? I was introduced to her in school, I was between 16 and 17. My first book was The Hour of the Star, a book published a few months before Clarice's death.
After our previous show, Infinite While it Lasts, based on the life and works of the Brazilian poet and composer Vinicius de Moraes, we met to exchange some ideas about Group .BR's next production. We ended up with three ideas and decided to do some research about them. Clarice made our creativity bubble. And the more we researched about her the more we found things related to some contemporary issues that matter to us. She was born in Ukraine from a Jewish family victim of the horrors of the pogroms during the Russian Civil War. The family almost ended up in US but had to change their plans because it was at a time when US made it more difficult for Jews to get in the country. Because of that they decide to board to Brazil where some relatives had already moved. So from there we have some issues such as immigration and refugees. And she was a woman who lived ahead of her time, and certainly paid the price for it. She wouldn't fit in the female model of the time. She was among the very few women that studied law, she published her first novel at the age of 23 already revolutionizing Brazilian literature, when she found herself in an unhappy marriage she got divorced in a time it wasn't even legal, she is one the most important Brazilian writers of all times. That makes us think about all the discussion about women's rights and gender equality. Specially for a project with so many women involved! Group .BR is a company run by two women, doing a show about a woman, directed and produced by women and with so many other women involved in other positions such costume and set designing. Those subjects are not directly the subject of the show, are examples for those discussions, the subjects of the show are Clarice's questions about humanity. The essence of our existence, our dreams, our secrets, our masks, our identity.
2. What made you want to present Inside The Wild Heart across multiple mediums of visual arts, film, music, & performance art? Clarice's works are intimate. She talks about some hidden things. It feels very close. Because of that I couldn't think of another way to portray her other than an immersive production. The closeness to the audience to me is crucial. She often describes sensations so we created a show where things can be touched, tasted, smelled. I read in an article that you don't read Clarice, you experience it. I couldn't agree more, so the show is a "Claricean" experience.
3. As an actress, what do you like about performing in immersive theatre? In what ways does it challenge you? Immersive is dangerous because you never know how people will react and you must be ready for everything. This is something that keeps you on your toes and very present. You must use everything around you, everything the audience gives you, so the performance is always very fresh.
4. What do you relate to most about your character in Inside The Wild Heart? What is one characteristic you wish you had of hers? I play a variety of characters from different books and short stories. I love Clarice's ideas about identity and inner freedom. It's something that resonates a lot with me.
6. The underlying thread in all of Clarice Lispector's work is the questioning of oneself and humanity. What is something you still question about yourself? What do you question of humanity? There is something that I really align with Clarice that is the act of questioning. In one text she says "I am a question." I love that. I believe that when we stop questioning we stop growing. I also believe no type of radicalism can exist if we allow questions to arise. And I also believe that there are questions we don't have answers to. "So long as I have questions to which I have no answers I shall go on writing."
7. What made you want to create your theatre group? First, I love Brazilian culture. It's so rich and so diverse! I just love sharing. Secondly, I couldn't accept the fact that Brazil didn't have a representation in theatre in NY. Well, things have changed and hopefully will change even more!
8. What do you get from running Group .BR that you don't get from performing? Other than a lot of stress? Creating a community, seeing your vision take form, open doors to other artists, help people grow.
9. As a cross-continental performer, you are acting in more than one continent. Are the struggles you face as a performer the same no matter where you go or do you notice a difference between here in the US and Brazil? If there are differences, what are some of the ones you notice? In general, the struggle for artists is the same. But in my case I run into the ethnic issue here. For many casting directors I'm not Brazilian enough, whatever that means. Little do they know the country is very mixed and we come in all shapes and colors. I see change coming but ethnicity is still not very well accepted or even incorporated in the dramaturgy so the offer is not that big.
10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? Being present.
Originally from Brazil, Andressa Furletti is a multidisciplinary artist based in New York. She is the co-founder and artistic director of Group .BR. Her artistic works include stage and film acting, performance art, art installation and filmmaking. Her inspiration comes from her degrees in Biology, Filmmaking, the acting conservatory training at Stella Adler Studio and many workshops and intensives such as the Mitu Thailand Artist Intensive in Bangkok and the Watermill International Summer Program (2011/2012) coordinated by Robert Wilson. Andressa received several awards including Best Multimedia Show at the United Solo Festival in New York for her debut solo theater show free•dom - a solo of many people, the Outstanding Community Service Award from the Brazilian Community Heritage Foundation, 5 awards in international film festivals for Separation Sonnet and was eight times nominated to the Brazilian International Press Awards.