Cláudia Lucas Chéu

Illustration by: Bárbara Lopes

Interview by: João Miguel Fernandes

Cláudia Lucas Chéu Matéria Negra Ilustração Entrevista

Ocupation: Playwright, poet, screenwriter and director

Click here to read the interview in Portuguese


1 – Tell me about a memory of your childhood that you strongly remember.

When I started wearing glasses at the age of six. Until then, I thought people and things were blurred. I was amazed when I saw my face focused on the mirror with glasses. I thought: Well, I’m like this.

2 – At what point in your life did you think that theater and literature could be your profession? And how did this really happen at the beginning?

I don’t know. I started out wanting to be a writer but then, as a teenager, I started to do theater and I wanted to be an actress. I attended the course of Modern Languages and Literatures and only later I went to the Conservatory. I worked first as an actress, then I directed actors, I sang and I started writing for plays. There was never a plan, things happened naturally. I just held on to the opportunities that came up. I don’t know what I’ll do in the future. Things, to me, are not solid/secure.

“It would be necessary to insert the book even in digital format, in school and family life. Just as we need to brush our teeth to avoid cavities, I think we need reading to sanitize the brain.”

3 – It’s common to say that the Portuguese don’t read that much. How can this trend be reversed?

The genesis of the problem begins in education. It would be necessary to insert the book even in digital format, in school and family life. Just as we need to brush our teeth to avoid cavities, I think we need reading to sanitize the brain. What matters is to be aware of the transformation that a text can have in a person.

4 – You were born in Lisbon, the capital city, a metropolis full of mess. How has the city influenced you throughout your growth as an artist?

I am objectively from the city. I don’t see myself far from the metropolis. The city is in my texts, implicitly or explicitly. It’s part of the imaginary. I don’t even control it.

5 – Literature and the theater are two arts that interconnect a lot, making sense that you dominate both. What are the pros and cons of working in theater and literature in Portugal, respectively?

Literature and theater have been closer, in a certain traditionalist sense of drama, of narrative. At this moment, I consider the theater closer to Philosophy than Literature. The texts for the stage are increasingly philosophical and reflective. In relation to the proximity to Literature, writing for the stage is closer to Poetry (and far from the narrative). I don’t see any cons. I’m privileged. I have had the happiness to do what I want.

6 – Who influenced the most in your life?

 

My family. My parents. I think there is no one who can make us deeper marks (positive and negative). The family (in its varied formats) continues to dominate the way it contributes to your journey, to your personality.

“There is in our generation, the so-called zero error. They left us with a dull, wandering future, so there is no fear. At the start everything is lost and this causes everything else to be won. It’s like you know that NO is for sure. You just have to try, you might get a YES.”

7 – What is it that leads Portugal, a country “in crisis”, to be able to catapult itself at the international level in so many areas?

 

I don’t know. There is in our generation, the so-called zero error. They left us with a dull, wandering future, so there is no fear. At the start everything is lost and this causes everything else to be won. It’s like you know that NO is for sure. You just have to try, you might get a YES. Another thing – we leave the country more and, unlike other generations of emigrants, there is an informed and qualified generation. We have all the tools and we were forced out of the shell.

8 – You are the co-founder of “Edições Guilhotina” and of “Teatro Nacional 21. Besides money issues, what were the biggest difficulties you felt in founding a publisher and a company?

 

None. I work on other things to pay for the issues (just like the other partners), it’s an investment I make from my pocket, for pleasure. The idea is not to lose money, but we never thought about profit. The profit is to get out unpublished texst from excellent authors. As for the Company, at “Teatro Nacional 21”, we have had shows subsidized by large structures (TNDMII and TNSJ), and this has allowed us to do things with quality.

9 – What does the “bitoque” has that you can’t find elsewhere? (Bitoque is a portuguese dish consisting of grilled steak, french fries, egg and sometimes rice)

 

It concentrates on a dish everything I like: french fries, steak and starry egg (the rest is irrelevant). I think what people eat tells a lot about their personality. That’s why I say that I like bitoques, it’s not to make a joke.

10 – You write for several national publications, as well as being a screenwriter. Have you ever tried writing for international publications?

 

Yes. I was selected by the European Dramatic Committee with my text Poison. I have several texts translated into English and French. In addition to a text published in a Galician dramaturgy magazine, NÚA. My book of poetry, Ratazanas, is published in Brazil, in São Paulo, by “Selo Demónio Negro”.

11 – Your work is very diverse. How does your creative process work? Do you have some kind of method?

 

I have no method. Chaos. Have faith in the chaos order.

12 – Some argue that philosophy should play a more relevant role in national education. How could we introduce and develop philosophy in national schools in an alternative way to what already exists?

 

There are already primary schools where kids have philosophy. Basically they learn to ask questions, which is a fundamental thing, to be an autonomous person, with an own opinion formed from what is restless and moving.

13 – Which national artists do few people know that you think will be big in the future or that deserve more prominence?

 

In theater: John Romão and Silly Season. In literature: Valério Romão and Raquel Nobre Guerra.

14 – If you could rule the world what would you change now?

 

Speed. We should slow down a bit. We should be caught up by speeding.

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