(*) Ewa Procter
“More is more, less is bore”. This is a joke that became a motto for New Yorker Iris Apfel. Iris is now ninety-seven years old; she continues in full activity as an entrepreneur and interior designer. And if you are not familiar with her name, please take note that this lady became one of the major worldwide references in pop art and in the fashion world!
So, “Através da Iris” is a tribute to Iris Apfel. And Nathalia Timberg who plays Iris Apfel is starting now the celebrations of her own 90th birthday that will happen in 2019! And, the same way as Iris Apfel, Nathalia Timberg is also in full artistic activity. This is the second monologue she stars this year, at the same Teatro Maison de France!
Through the daring ideas and some of the acid humor of Iris Apfel herself, the play praises the freedom of being and expressing herself at any given time. Apfel, even at 97, inspires and surprises artists and creators all over the world, due to her authenticity and her way of thinking. Apfel’s daring mixtures in her own way of dressing, her exuberant fittings, her giant reading glasses, and multicolored clothes tell us of an independence to which everybody is entitled. And it is also about experimenting – as well as experimenting on oneself – without fearing any judgments.
While she was still acting as a designer of interiors, Iris, together with her now deceased husband Carl (who died in 2015 at the age of one hundred years) used to travel all over the world searching for the perfect textiles for their illustrious clientele that included Estée Lauder, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Greta Garbo. The Apfel couple was also asked to decorate the White House during nine different administrations: Truman, Eisenhower,
Nixon, Ford, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter, Reagan and Clinton. At the age of eighty-four, Iris received a major surprise in her life. She had her style honored by the entire world, after becoming the theme of an art exhibition at the New York Metropolitan Museum. In the beginning, she was supposed to have only five of her “looks” shown at a small gallery, but then it grew and became a full exhibition with over 80 “looks”, and approximately 150 thousand visitors!
Cacau Hygino, the author of the play, confesses that one of the biggest surprises he had when writing “Através da Iris”, was the fact of discovering a woman with a very colorful life, with a large experience, and impelled by vivacity, good humor, and courage. Hygino says he had found somebody who serves as an example for all those who gave up living. One should remember that Iris Apfel is now ninety-seven years old, and has an incredible “joie de vivre”,
In the play, Nathalia Timberg is on stage in the role of Iris Apfel, acting as if she was giving an interview. So, Iris opens her house and shares with a hypothetical journalistic team her stories and outspoken opinions on the most varied subjects. This way director Maria Maya, together with Cacau Hygino, conceived the show as a scenic documentary. The declarations of the actress on stage mix with her appearances on the videos that are projected on the set. Thus, there is real time interaction. Ronald Teixeira’s set brings us a large box with windows, through which we see the interior of Iris’ house, full of multicolored things, from candles to art work, not forgetting stuffed animals and flowers. However, slowly one starts to realize that it is a recording studio, thus erasing the limits between reality and fiction.
“Através da Iris” plays at the Teatro Maison de France, located on Avenida Presidente Antônio Carlos, 58 – downtown Rio de Janeiro.
Telephone number: 2544-2533. The theatre seats 352 people. Performances take place on Thursdays at 05:00 P.M., Fridays and Saturdays at 07:30 P.M., and Sundays at 06:00 P.M. Tickets cost R$ 80,00 (eighty Reais) and R$ 40,00 (forty Reais), the latter for students and senior citizens. Tickets can also be purchased through the Internet at www.tudus.com.br The play lasts for seventy minutes, and is not recommended for young people under the age of twelve. An interesting feature is that at the Sunday performances, the theatre provides Libras (professional interpreters for deaf spectators).
“Através da Iris” opened on the 11th of October, and is scheduled to run until the 16th of December, 2018. So, there should be time for you to go and watch Nathalia Timberg, giving a wonderful performance, and acquainting the audience with Iris Apfel!
(*) Ewa Procter is a writer and a theatre translator, and
Chair of the Instituto Cultural Chiquinha Gonzaga.