Thais Mennsitieri

While the World Cup is heating up in Brazil, London stages one of the biggest cultural events of 2014: LIFT the London International Festival of Theatre.


The months preceding the arrival of the World Cup in Brazil were marked by protests of civilians flooding the streets claiming for improvements in public service and against corruption and social inequality in the country. LIFT in partnership with Street Child World Cup commissioned a show that couldn’t represent better the context of the present World Cup, 'Turfed' is a show that draws a parallel precisely between football and youth homelessness. 

Brazilian director Renato Rocha brings together an international cast of youngsters with experience of abandonment, some who have actually lived on the streets, and taps into issues of a harsh reality that affects not only Brazil but the whole world, including London. 

Behind the scenes of Turfed:

Rocha uses the aesthetics and basic principles of football as an analogy to the survival game of young homeless people. After an intense process of research and collaboration that used the actual experience and personal stories of the cast, the outcome is an honest but very poetic and delicate show that makes questions and leaves space for personal and subjective readings. 

Turfed mixes artistic languages (the show uses elements of theatre, dance, spoken word and video projection), builds a fragmented narrative and rearranges the audience’s position in space. 

The audience enters into a huge warehouse where isolated actions happen simultaneously, having the freedom to move in space and see whatever they wish. Simple actions slowly transform into short solos in which disturbed characters talk about death, body, abandonment and solitude. The audience is then literally swept in half and the action takes center in a wide corridor that is later transformed into a huge football field.

Watch the trailer: 

It is worth mentioning a scene where a boy kicks several footballs into the goal, one by one in a crescendo rhythm pounding against the wall as a girl sings in a bathtub. A clear and simple action that portrays very poetically the feeling of isolation and anger of those kids. Perhaps the greatest flaw of the show is precisely the constant change and excessive use of many different elements.

It’s in the football field where uniform shits are distributed, where young people gain a name and become part of a team; it’s in the football field where we understand the power of teamwork and the desire of belonging and winning. Rocha knows what he wants to say however, what inspires him as an artist are the multiple possibilities of how the audience will receive and comprehend his story. I also can write about ‘Turfed’ however, the experience of this show can only be live and is different to each one of us.

Turfed’ is on until the 21st of June. To see the complete programme of LIFT and get details of events and shows, click here.

*Thais Mennsitieri is a Brazilian actress, performance maker and co-founder of CACTUS Performance.Art.Collective, besides signing the column of theater, dance and performance at Eleven Culture Magazine.