Adela Bravo Sauras, a Spanish architect and theater director, obtained her degree in architecture in Madrid in 2008, and then moved to Berlin where she founded the group No Fourth Wall (www.nofourthwall.com). No Fourth Wall strives to merge theater and architecture in order to involve spectators in the projects while tearing down the architectonic structures that separate the public from the performers.
The group has performed at many theaters in Berlin (Hebbel am Ufer – HAU, Ballhaus Ost, Micamoca, FIT, Acudkunsthaus, WortWedding Gallery, Prinzessinnengarten), as well as in Edinburgh, Buenos Aires, Francforte, Basel, and Madrid (Sala Triángulo and Tabacalera). It has been awarded prizes in competitions like “Performance Architecture as European Capital of Culture 2012 Guimaraes,” “Berlin Förderung (Fachbereich Kunst und Kultur),” “Szena Novelty,” and Hanssem Co. Ltd’s “Design Beyond East and West.”
Recently, Adela participated as a performer and stage design assistant in the Schaubühne’s “Festival Internacional New Drama” (F.I.N.D.) for the project “Meat,” and as a stage designer for “Orbis Tertius” at the TAK (Theater Aufbau Kreuzberg). Beginning in October, she will be dedicating herself to researching and staging new projects at the Institut fur Angewandte Theaterwissenschaft in Giessen.
She is also currently performing doctoral research at the Universitaet der Kuenste in Berlin thanks to a scholarship from Caja Madrid.
What is the influence of dance in your work?
Various disciplines converge in my projects at the same time. Aside from theater and architectonic installation, disciplines like dance, philosophy, and music usually play a part. The reason that I use different instruments of communication is that, in a performance, there are many ways to reach the spectator. Among them, dance is best-suited for involving people—it is more direct, and doesn’t allow manipulation. Whereas, with a written text, a precise point of view is imposed by the author, dance in contrast only transmits an idea. The interpretation of choreographic movement or improvisation is much more subjective and personal.
Building on that assumption, I’ve come to realize through experience that fusing many disciplines, dance among them, makes it easier to involve the spectator more actively – almost at the level of a co-author.
For example, in “Easywhy, I think too much, therefore I am sick,” presented in 2013 at Ballhaus Ost in Berlin, we wanted to show that people afflicted with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), who are therefore typically considered “mentally ill,” might simply be individuals who are hyper-exposed to visual and auditory enticements—whose attention deviates from what is commonly understood as objective reality. But looked at from a different point of view, these people’s position could be a key to understanding divergent modes of perception.
In order to publically reproduce the same mental condition as a person suffering from ADHD, I attempted to bombard all the spectators with multiple inputs. There were four dancers, an actress (simultaneously present live, onscreen, and through a voiceover), two musicians, and two philosophers converging in the space, all vying for the spectators’ attention. The spectators, for their part, were linked to the walls by elastic bands of varying lengths. The dancers were compelled to muddle through elastic bands, which determined in some way their encounters; the spectators decided their own position and point of view, depending on their choices and interest in observing one action or another.
How do you think different disciplines in contemporary art contaminate one another?
In works by No Fourth Wall, we have sometimes used texts as a departing point—perhaps coming from philosophers or biologists like Gregory Bateson or Joachim Bauer—but the tendency is to take a distance toward the written word, and place importance on the “scenic text,” in order to not impose prearranged ideas on the public. I find it much more interesting for the spectator’s reactions and free association to show the way. The idea would be to give life to a theater as a place in which everyone has an active role, so that the poetic images created are developed slowly.
For example, in “36 a plot’s kermesse,” there were 12 theater monologues, 12 short films, and 12 philosophical dialogues. The spectators had a navigation card and could choose what plot they wanted to consume. In this way, they dictated their own dramaturgy. As Heiner Müller has said: you’ll be less bored in a show if, after one plot, a completely different plot arrives, and then a different one again. My aim, therefore, is not to attain perfection, but instead to amuse the spectator in the sense understood by Heiner Muller.
Are you planing to include dance again in your future works?
I am more and more interested in working with experts in various disciplines. Departing from a shared question, each expert searches for specific answers within the limits of their own competence. My role is to serve merely as “glue.” I’m not a dance expert, so I look to collaborate with good choreographers—and the case is the same in the other fields such as philosophy or music.
To answer your question more accurately: yes. In the project currently in progress, “Ibsagon,” there will again be dance, theater, architecture, music, and, philosophy.