For five years Miguel Pereira’s performances have been dominated by a nameless pop star, a shimmering rock‘n’roll icon, embodying glamour and grime, loneliness and connection, perfection and failure. But now he must die. Pereira has shifted the obsessive, symbiotic relationship between performer and audience by inviting ten non-choreographers to complete the legend and choreograph the star’s death. The results will be presented for the audience’s pleasure and a vote will determine the order of the Top 10 deaths. In revealing the destructive love (or lust) at the heart of the entertainment industry, Pereira raises questions about authorship, audience and the role of the public in creating and destroying their icons.
“My name is Miguel Pereira. I’ve been developing my earliest work since 2000 and have been obsessively using the presence of this figure - a nameless pop star - in almost all of my pieces, directly and indirectly. For me this character is a representation and a metaphor for ‘show’. What is behind the idea of perfection, efficiency, virtuosity, illusion, power, centre, glamour, exposure, mask, public, highlights, confronted with the intimacy, privacy, fragility, loneliness, insecurity, failure and fears of our daily existences? I’m really interested in the artefacts that one creates to distract from our one limitations and the importance that our desires have to push us forward in creating new territories of possibility.
Another important aspect of TOP10, and in my work in general, is the questioning of authorship and the reception of the artwork by the audience, the role of entertainment and communication versus the fact that art can also be an instrument of questioning, redefining and thinking about reality and human behaviours. When I started to structure TOP10 I wanted to subvert the system and the hierarchies of creation, by putting the role of authorship on those who normally are the receivers and the readers of the performances, or in the anonymous people who normally watches: the audience.
Is it possible for someone who is not a choreographer or a stage director, to produce and conceive a show? What would they like to see if they could be responsible for the show? Can they put on stage their own desires, wishes and dreams? Can they be responsible for the quality of the performance? And what about the people who normally have the role of theorizing, criticizing and speaking about performance? Are they able to do a piece? And promoters and programmers, can they do the perfect pieces that they would like to show in their theatres?
All of this is, of course, a provocation and a joke that does not give any answer and I cannot pretend there is any solution. All it does is give a space for reflecting about our own conception, expectations and prejudices about performance in general. With this project I could end up with something that I have explored almost til I exhaust all its possibilities, creating a new space for new territories and new experiences.
The death of the character:
For the concept of TOP10 I had in mind David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust persona, that he created in the 70s centred around the memorable concert in London when he decided to do the last (re)presentation of Ziggy.
The romantic myth of dying on stage, paradigm of the opera’s divas.
Some background curiosities:
This character was born for a concert/ performance (M&M’S) that I create with Margarida Mestre - a Portuguese friend and performer. In this performance we use the frame of a concert to play the role of two stars, kind of a couple, real weirdoes, grotesque and overacted roles. She’s a good singer, I’m a bad one. The character has a hit that I stole from a Madonna album. The lyrics are from a Erika Badu’s song mixed with my own text. Mainly it says that I’ve green eyes because I eat a lot of vegetables!
The costume of my character:
I bought the wig in New York in a fancy dress shop, I found the trousers in the street also in New York, the shirt I bought very cheap in an old market in Lisbon, the shoes were stolen from a girlfriend, the “boa” was a gift from another friend and the mirror glasses are very cheap ones bought in Indian stores in Lisbon.”
Artistic direction and performance
A.Branco; Ana Checa; Augusto Seabra; Carla Alonso; Fátima Vaz; Fernanda Fusco; José Bragança de Miranda; Maria de Assis; Manuel Henriques e Miguel Jorge
Script and support to script development
O Rumo do Fumo
Premiere - 2 February 2006, Cube Microplex/Festival InBetweenTime..., Bristol/UK