The Expression of the Emotions



November 25th | 21h30 | Teatro da Cerca de São Bernardo

Performances from November 25th to the 27th.

About the project:

In 1872 Charles Darwin published his work “The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals” where he presents his research on the relation of facial expressions and emotional states in humans and other animals. One of his sources was the work of the French physician Guillaume Duchenne who, in is work “Mecanisme de la Physionomie Humaine”, presents the result of his experiments where he applied electrical current in certain areas of the face of some patients, in order to identify the muscles involved in the expression of certain emotions. His work includes photographic images of his experiments, which Duchenne considered the best method to register is work. Some years later, Darwin used this pictures in an experiment with a group of friends of his, asking them to identify the emotion behind the expressions of Duchenne “models”. The results of Darwin’s experiment pointed to the universal recognition of the so called basic emotions (sadness, rage, surprise, fear, disgust, contempt and joy).

The ways human beings communicate with each other have evolved drastically in recent years. At the time Duchenne made his experiments, the photographic camera was a recent invention, introducing a new support for the communication of images that the French physician rapidly adopted. Nowadays, we tie and untie communicational knots without seeing the wrinkles on the other’s face, we create digital alter-egos, avatars, which we wear to relate to other human beings and which can capture and reproduce our facial expressions in real-time. A virtual skin.

We departed from these references and Duchennes’ images to the creation of our “The Expression of the Emotions”. The basic idea was to create an experimental device where we would invite the audience into, to make them sense the ways we communicate and express ourselves and reflect about the small bias between the expression of an emotion and an emotional state, about what we construct upon what we think the other is feeling.

The theatre stage is a device create and still frequently used to express emotions. Consequently, our perspective on the theme using this device necessarily constitutes some sort of meta-analysis on the expression and communication medium which is the theatre.

Along with the stage play and focusing the theme of the expression of the emotions, it was the developed of LabX – Experimental Laboratory of Photography, oriented by the photographer Susana Paiva and with the participation of eleven volunteers. The final results will be presented together with the play in Teatro da Cerca de São Bernardo. They are an additional group of reflections and provocations on the theme of the expression of emotions.

All this will be an intense experience of three days, like Carnival.


A group of Archaeologists of emotions tries to recover emotions form the past using theatrical techniques of represent emotions. Together with the enormous challenge of recovering feelings long past and gone, they face yet another, the one of having to deal with their own emotions during the process of research.

Those who mess with emotions end up messed up.


Discussion and ideas: Beatriz Dias, Dara Couceiro, Guilherme Lima, Inês Almeida, Marcos Marques, Mário Montenegro, Miguel Silva, Paula Rita Lourenço, Pedro Andrade, Teresa Girão, Susana Paiva;
Actors: Beatriz Dias*, Dara Couceiro*, Guilherme Lima*, Marcos Marques, Mário Montenegro, Miguel Silva*, Paula Rita Lourenço;
Text and direction: Mário Montenegro;
Scenography, image, costumes and props: Pedro Andrade;
Photography and direction of LabX-Experimental Photography Lab: Susana Paiva;
Original sound track: Marcelo dos Reis;
Lighting and technical direction: Mafalda Oliveira;
Stage photography: Francisca Moreira;
Hairstyling: Carlos Gago – Ilídio Design;
Executive production: Teresa Girão.
*interns – students of Curso Profissional de Artes do Espectáculo of Colégio de S. Teotónio

Age rating: 12 and older


10€ [Normal]

6€ [Students, youngsters, retired, theatre amateurs and professionals, science professionals, groups with 10 or more people]

5€ [groups of 20 or more people, entities with protocols TCSB (CMC, Sindicato dos Professores da Região Centro, Sindicato dos Trabalhadores do Grupo Caixa Geral de Depósitos, Círculo de Leitores). Subscriptions TCSB: 5 tickets, 30 Euros; 11 tickets; 50 Euros]


239 718 238 / 966 302 488 /


Company financed by: Câmara Municipal de Coimbra

Supporters: Fundação Bissaya Barreto; Ilidio Design Cabeleireiros; MAFIA – Federação Cultural de Coimbra; TCSB – Teatro da Cerca de São Bernardo; Bonifrates Grupo de Teatro; Círculo de Iniciação Teatral da Academia de Coimbra; TEUC; Rómulo Centro Ciência Viva; Colégio de São Teotónio

Media partners: Rádio Universidade de Coimbra; Dolce Vita Coimbra; Bloco de Esquerda Coimbra

Acknowledgements: A Escola da Noite, Condomínio Criativo de Coimbra, Rómulo – Centro Ciência Viva da Universidade de Coimbra, Laetitia Morais, Rui Telmo