“Eu vos liberto” (‘I set you free’) is based on Euripides’ play ‘Hippolytus’ – considered humanity’s first sex tragedy, which examines sexual taboo, fear of the female and misogynistic contempt.

Seemingly polar opposites, the play’s characters are aspects of the same, fatally linked through hubris and illusory power.

Aphrodite punishes the celibate prince Hippolytus, a devout worshipper of Artemis, bringing about his death through the very sex that he has scorned, by casting a spell on Queen Phaedra to fall in love with him, her stepson.

The nurse, nameless but all pervasive, learns her secret and brings it to Hippolytus, who reacts with savage misogynistic ferocity.

CRITICS’ CHOICE Folha de São Paulo “Illustrada” BEST PLAY

“Ravishing imagery in a fusion of dance, theatre”

“Zikzira’s re-examination of Euripides’ classic tragedy Hippolytus, through spheres of light and darkness – is quintessentially contemporary.”

Eu vos liberto was performed in a derelict building, an ‘abandoned palace’. The entrance’s décor insinuates a brothel, the colossal main space, its dilapidated sofas and armchairs covered in dust sheets, a long-forgotten opulence. Reflective pools of dark water forge a gulf between the cast and the audience, fleetingly creating mirror images as the tragedy unfolds.

High above the stage, suspended on a bridge, a counter-tenor, whose sublime voice expands through the palace, revealing the character’s secrets and their inescapable fate.

Zikzira examines the play’s archetypical mechanisms and its underlying themes of forgiveness and transcendence. In this production, the characters are discarnate. Dream-like, in state of limbo, they are etheric imprints of their carnal counterparts, bound to their destinies. 

In the final act, dismembered and broken, Hippolytus returns for a final encounter with his father, King Theseus. In a moment of sudden reversal, Hippolytus forgives his father, his executioner: “I am your son and hers. I set you free.”

The roles of Theseus and Hippolytus are enacted by the same actor – in this production, the figure of the brutal, debauched Theseus is the inner antagonist, lurking in Hippolytus’ tormented, schizoid psyche.

Featuring an international cast of dancers and actors, Eu vos liberto premiered in one of Belo Horizonte’s oldest remaining buildings, a deserted 1906 textile factory in today’s red-light district. The lighting design was devised by Brazil’s renowned lighting designer Guilherme Bonfanti.

The soundscape was created by The Hafler Trio using the cast’s sounds and voices, to which Rodrigo Firpi composed a classical musical score with Euripides’ play as blueprint for the libretto. Suspended high above the ‘islands’, Firpi performed live, his ‘castrato’ voice eerily travelling around the old factory. Eu vos liberto revived the derelict building which subsequently became a cultural centre, 104 Tecidos.

Cast of four
80 minutes
5.1 surround sound

Aphrodite, some have called me:
in each of you your reaching, out
toward an other, in Desire. All you
Well know my deep compulsion
in your flesh. I am as necessary in you each, as
any moral aspect of a man.

Look everywhere, end to end of this earth:
I tell you, yield me my due celebration,
I enhance you; rank me some baser nature
you would rise above, I bring you falling.

Hippolytus (Euripides), a version by David Rudkin

Cast & Crew

Nurse: Macarena Campbell
Phaedra: Sung hwa Kim
Chorus: Rodrigo Firpi
Hippolytus/ Theseus: Marçal Costa

Original Soundtrack: The Hafter Trio
Classical music by Rodrigo Firpi
Lighting design: Guilherme Bonfanti
Set design: Orlando Castaño
Costume design: Adalgisa Duque
Make-up: Luiz Rupf
Production Supervisor and Artistic Consultant: Lígia Lippi
Photos: André Semenza
Production Assistants: Washington de Souza, Gilmar Salutriano de Souza
Text adapted by Lourdes Menegale, Fernanda Lippi and André Semenza
Produced by Zikzira Physical Theatre
Choreographed and co-directed by Fernanda Lippi
Make-up: Elizinha Silva
Directed by André Semenza