CALENDAR OF STONE presents a character in
confrontation with time in all its aspects. Through her daily journal,
a woman faces diverse moments allowing her intimate self to come to surface.
Her subconscious is surprisingly filled with grandiose and simple moments,
all of them being equally vital. The work promises to be the most comedic
play in Stoklos' repertoire.
No Brazilian actress has ever had the worldwide impact of Ms. Stoklos,
whose "essential theatre" performances have enthralled audiences
from Scandinavia to the Orient with theater works based solely on body,
mind and voice. Stoklos' body of work ranges from the serious-minded to
the hilarious, and testifies to wide possibilities of the actor's craft.
She has been named Best Actress in Brazil nine times and her repertoire
of solo plays has been performed in 31 countries.
"Calendar of Stone" is a solo piece written, directed and performed
entirely by Ms. Stoklos. Borrowing its structure from Gertrude Stein's
"A Birthday Book", in which the poet writes about each and every
day of a year, Stoklos' character goes through an entire year during which
all sorts of things happen. Simple, daily events coexist with profound,
existential questionings, all having an impact on the character's life.
Ms. Stoklos explains, "It is not relevant whether the character is
male or female, rich or poor, younger or older, only that her basic necessities
have been provided: this is someone who has been fed, educated and sheltered.
It could be anyone in the audience or the performer herself."
"Stein", which in many languages means "stone," led
to the title and appears as a symbol in the character's dreams. The stone
represents time in its sense of durability. Stoklos points out that many
facts in the history of humanity are saved in stone for the knowledge
of future generations. It is via the image of the stone that time reveals
itself in the play as a god of many faces, at once ordinary and deeply
religious. Inside its endless repetition of one day after another, we
can eventually find cracks in which chronology is no longer relevant,
when the tedious, arid sensation of being "trapped in time"
dissolves into what could be called a "timeless time".
All of Stoklos' plays have had their American debuts at La MaMa. Her
last appearance at La MaMa, in 2000, was a magnificent biographical work,
"Louise Bourgeois: I Do, I Undo, I Redo." The piece was based
on the life, work and writings of Louise Bourgeois, the French-born modernist
sculptor who is considered one of the world's most important living artists.
Ms. Stoklos grabbed the American spotlight in 1987 with a signature piece,
"Mary Stuart." The New York Times' D.J.R. Bruckner praised the
enormous range of images created purely by her face and movements, writing
"in the struggle to master illusion, Ms. Stoklos wins brilliantly."
That piece returned to La MaMa in 1997 after an appearance at the Edinburgh
Festival, where it was described as the best performance there by The
Observer of London.
Many of Stoklos' works have combined classical themes with modern commentary:
"Hamlet in Irati" (1988) sought to compare Hamlet's delay in
revenging his father to Latin peoples' delay in bringing on revolution.
"500 Years: a Fax from Denise Stoklos to Christopher Columbus"
(1993), a piece regarding Latin America from the point of view of the
exploited, was called "a feverish stream-of-consciousness monologue
that begins in rage and slowly metamorphoses into an ecstatic assertion
of freedom and love" (Holden, New York Times). Her "Un-Medea"
(1996) deconstructed the myth by having Medea not kill her children but
reflect on her fate and ponder her choices in opting for life.
Between 1988 and 1993, Stoklos created a series of memorable comedies,
beginning with a rendition of Franca Rame's "Adult Orgasm Escaped
from the Zoo" (1989). Seven Days (Nina Mankin) wrote, "Stoklos
conjures up people and places with an energy and precision that is exhilarating
to watch, and she barely needs to let a single word roll off her funny
foreign tongue to have all of La MaMa rocking with enjoyment." Next
came her only American ensemble piece, "Casa" (1990), which
the Village Voice (Mark Gevisser) judged "worthy of the Monsieur
Hulot Memorial Umbrella" as "not only a school for sophisticated
clowns, but also a sharp parody of bourgeois Brazilian domestic melodrama
and a challenging salvo in the discourse of comic alienation." Her
solo sequel, "Basement" (1992), prompted The Village Voice's
Francine Russo to call her "a master mime and self-caricaturist"
while El Diario/La Prensa's Alberto Minero cheered, "As a performer
she is at the top not only of Latin American theater but even of the universal
theater scene itself."
Stoklos' manifesto on Essential Theatre has been published and widely
read. She has been the subject of a master's thesis at NYU by Suzi Sobral
and a lecture at Princeton, titled "The Gestural Art of Reclaiming
Utopia: Denise Stoklos' Essential Theatre," by Leslie Damasceno,
both in 1992.