Meet the Muse of Group .BR's Inside the Wild Heart
Updated: Aug 20, 2018
Regarded as Brazil’s Kafka, Clarice Lispector’s disturbing yet brilliant stories provokes spiritual feelings in all her readers.
Both Jewish, however, one male and one female exemplify literary greatness. Nonetheless, Clarice’s struggled in a society that belittled women and that is what differentiates her from other writers. That, and the mysterious mysticality of her writing. She is considered Brazil’s biggest female writer and with or without success, with happiness or lack thereof, Clarice wrote until the day she died. In February 1977, in the only TV interview she gave, she said, “I think that when I’m not writing I’m dead”. Her intimate connection with writing is not only fascinating, but humbling, considering that she deemed herself as “not a professional”.
Group .BR’s next production, Inside the Wild Heart, is an immersive theatrical experience creatively displaying Clarice Lispector’s work and life. The show takes the audience on a visionary passage directly inside Lispector’s heart creating an experience that propels audiences to engage with literature on a sensory level. Conceived by Andressa Furletti and Debora Balardini, the show fuses visual arts, film, music and performance art, which embodies the writer’s deepest feelings, serving as an entry point to Clarice's incredible work, still mostly unknown in the US. The performers embody the writer's biggest themes such as identity, solitude, madness, violence, faith and freedom accompanied by Mario Forte on the electronics and violin.
"I think that when I’m not writing I’m dead."
So, who was Clarice, then? Clarice was born on December 10, 1920, to a Jewish family in western Ukraine. They left Ukraine and ended up in Brazil in 1922, destitute and desperate running from the pogroms. They first settled in the small northeastern city of Maceió, Alagoas then moved to the larger city of Recife, Pernambuco. Clarice pursued her education, breaking all the walls that held her back as not only a woman, but also Jewish. She later enters the National Law Faculty of the University of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro. There, she was one of three women and the only Jewish person in the entire law school. She was a rare sight, but a sight for sore eyes. After law school she went straight into the newsroom of the then capital. There, her beauty and intelligence made a glamorous impression. She truly knew how to write, which many people could not deny. That was made very clear when Clarice published her first story, “The Triumph” in 1940. In December 1943, she published her first novel, Perto do coração selvagem (Near to the Wild Heart). The novel caused a sensation and in October 1944, the book won the prestigious Graça Aranha Prize for the best debut novel of 1943. One critic and poet, Lêdo Ivo, called it "the greatest novel a woman has ever written in the Portuguese language”. Some time after publishing her first novel, she left Rio with her new catholic husband, leaving everything behind.
From a penniless refugee to the wife of a diplomat, each step of Clarice’s life erupted the universality of her themes. She stayed abroad for fifteen years and her time away honed her already existing depression. Nonetheless, the relocation gave her the opportunity to sharpen her writing. Being married allowed her to write more often, considering that she did not have to work. Even with the work that comes with having two children, there was nothing stopping her from focusing on her writing, which made her all the more, the basic and simple housewife. The simplicity of being a stay-at-home wife and mother is mirrored in her stories.
Her roots in Jewish mysticism, the Kabbalistic unique way of writing and speaking, and her interest in language, plays a major role in what brings Clarice’s work to life. In movies, one can tell when there will be a shift in the plot with the sounds or music in the scenes. In that same way, Clarice’s work shows inevitable alterations in the story by the way the grammar alters. It’s as if the writing transforms into something unconventional but still a qualified and extraordinary way of portraying the message in the story. Shifts in moments or point of views are only a few ways that Clarice amplifies the realities of her characters. She adjusts the grammar which signifies the negative alterations happening in her characters’ lives. Clarice was a woman of her own, she knew how to disrupt what was known to be conventional writing to suit the message she was getting across. Besides her unique way of writing, Clarice’s description of the women in her stories were picked to bone. Her writing portrays a before and after of these women, with the disruption of writing comes the juxtaposition of the appearances of the women and the dishevelment of their lives.
Her experiences shaped her own person and also the characters she created through herself. As Clarice ages, so do her characters. During the times in her life when she was a teen submerged in her youth and the innovative and intellectual potential that came with that, so were her characters. As marriage and motherhood took over as the main concern of her life, it did as well for the women in her stories. During the moments in her life when her marriage slowly fails, Clarice watches as wrinkles trace her limbs and connect the blemishes on her face, her characters age as well. And when death’s call grows louder, her characters hear its echo. Her words are magical and her stories enchanting. Clarice’ stories are the beginning, middle, and end of her life. It is a fictional take on her biography, including all barriers that came with being a woman. Her characters struggle with the walls that rise when one reaches the stage of womanhood, like the ideological belief about the role of a woman. They struggle with personal life crises that propel madness, instability, addiction, or suicide. Like many other female writers, Clarice’s work was downgraded but she never gave up, “The terrible duty is to go to the end.” she says. While other women’s stories were silenced, hers continued to roar. Even so, she sympathized for silenced women which is evident in her stories, she could not connect with ever being silenced, but she could connect to being a wife and a mother and everything that came with it.
Clarice Lispector’s writing makes readers feel what her characters are going through because they are not only connecting with the characters, they are connecting with Clarice herself. This is how Group .BR breaks down the “fourth wall” in a brownstone house in Manhattan’s East side: by allowing Inside the Wild Heart to be a mirror for the audience and opening the doors of imagination for viewers to focus on their personal, individual experiences in relation to the stories they are experiencing. This encounter grants the audience the chance to connect with the sensual multifaceted literature of Clarice. She is a woman of raw talent, eminence and Group. BR’s production, Inside the Wild Heart, will assure to manifest all that is Clarice Lispector.