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By Heart (Teatro Nacional D. Maria II, Portugal): Sept 24 - Sept 26, Smock Alley Theatre

Tiago Rodrigues brings 'By Heart' to the Smock Alley Theatre 24 - 26 September 2015

‘Once 10 people know a poem by heart, there’s nothing the KGB, the CIA or the Gestapo can do about it. It will survive.’ – George Steiner

In By Heart, Portuguese playwright and actor Tiago Rodrigues teaches a poem to 10 volunteers. These people have not seen the performance before and they have no idea which text they will learn, by heart, in front of the audience.

As he leads them through the poem, Rodrigues recalls stories of his grandmother, who is losing her sight and with it the ability to read, along with stories of writers and characters from books that are connected to them both. Unlikely associations emerge – between Nobel Prize winner Boris Pasternak, a cook from the north of Portugal and a Dutch television show – and the mystery behind the chosen poem begins to unravel.

By Heart is about the importance of communication, of how words and ideas are stowed away and smuggled through our memories, our minds and our hearts. It’s about theatre as a safe house for forbidden texts – a guarantee of civilisation and resistance even in the most barbaric and desolate times.

Production: Teatro Nacional D. Maria II, after an original creation by the company Mundo Perfeito.

Co-production: O Espaço do Tempo (PT), Maria Matos Teatro Municipal (PT). Performance created with the financial support by Governo de Portugal | DGArtes.


A performance… so deep, so intelligent and so magnificent that we come out of it profoundly moved.
Le Figaro

Cast and Creative Team:

  • Written and Performed by Tiago Rodrigues
  • Text with fragments and quotes by writers including: William Shakespeare, Ray Bradbury, George Steiner, Joseph Brodsky
  • English translation: Tiago Rodrigues, revised by Joana Frazão
  • Set and Costume Design: Magda Bizarro

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