The improper, inspired by the “Poem in a straight line” (Poema em linha reta) by Álvaro de Campos (Fernando Pessoa) - Portuguese Writer and Philosopher.


The poem by Alvaro de Campos (heteronym of Fernando Pessoa), for his heteronym Alvaro de Campos, in his poem Straight Line offered a social critique in an ironic way because the perceived ills of society of his time and which today are as current.


The self-lyrical stands critical of himself and asks the reader for answers. It is presented through pejorative adjectives.

Perhaps to feel better about society, since he had no friends; just acquaintances.


Then he offended himself with these adjectives: Relay, pig, vile, pessimistic, dirty, ridiculous, absurd, grotesque, petty, submissive, arrogant, funny, wrong. The poet acts ironically because their known only count the advantages of life.


So the poem is full of ironies starting with the title. The essence of the poem is a denunciation of the false and hypocritical people who play in the dirt under the rug, “he shakes up the dust and give a comeback” and follow the falsity of a society with its dogmas.


There is no suffering, only victorious people. The self-lyrical makes the reader understand that the negative claims about his personality are told by the society, not by the poet.


In the poem Alvaro de Campos compares to the majority to be defined as different.

This difference is, from the point of view of the majority, no, but in the author’s own point of view, extremely positive.


The Improper brings a very strong message of what it means to not belong, to feel a looser in a world of winners. By exploring the body’s possibilities and, most important, it’s impossibilities, the artist creates an atmosphere of tension, anguish and anxiety typical of those who feel like they’ve been uprooted from the rest of the world.


Fernando uses his own experience as an expatriated artist to denounce the society’s hypocrisy when it comes to hiding our failures and showing only achievements.


It’s a critique showing that not only our virtues makes us who we are, but it’s the vilest feelings and atitudes that make us human. His inquietude as an artist made him explore these feelings to create the coreographic material by mixing them with the soundtrack, the world’s conjucture and the body responses to it. 


Creation & Performance: Fernando Oliveira 
Soeverein Theater - Tropenmuseum Amsterdam, NL

December 2017


The Improper - Short Scene - PART THREE


ANT - Physical Theatre Company

Film Dominic Mulder

Soeverein Theater - Tropenmuseum Amsterdam

Photos by Evert Jan Westera