Joana Bértholo

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My love of reading naturally drew me to writing, as my love of theatre drove me to write a play. I love the place of the spectator, or reader. Having written many novels, I felt none of that prepared me to write theatre, and I enjoy the challenge. I investigate the communalities and divergences between the two forms of writing, and my work is always concerned with that. In both I’m interested in how the world can contaminate fiction and drama. On stage, I’m interested mostly in what cannot be written, the non-verbal, the silences, and on the theatrical game between the actors.

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Joana Bértholo (Lisboa, 1982) is a novelist and a play-writer based in Lisbon, after living abroad for many years, in Europe and South America, with a highlight to the year spent in Buenos Aires, volunteering at Eloisa Cartonera, a very special book publisher that works with the «cartoneros», urban waste scavengers, and their hand-made books.
She holds a degree in Graphic Design (Lisbon’s Fine Arts Faculty) and a PhD in Cultural Studies (Europa-Universität Viadrina, in Germany). Her thesis was selected and published by Routledge Press.
Joana pursues a wide scope of interests through writing, using both the book as the stage as a platform to investigate on ecology, technology, sustainability, narratives, among others. She has published three novels, two books of short-stories and a children’s book with Editorial Caminho, one of the most prestigious Portuguese publishing houses; as well as other texts with other publishers in different collections and anthologies.
For the stage, she began by supporting the dramaturgy for four different creations by the choreographer Madalena Victorino. She then wrote nine short monologues for a Theatre Festival set in the centenary shops of Lisbon. After that she ventured her first long play («Quarto Minguante»), and was responsible for the dramaturgy for another long play and a children’s piece.

More projects and more information at

What role does imagination play in solving collective standstills?
Seven characters in very different situations but united by the same resistance to change: they are not well, but they refuse to change. They fear that the new will be even worse. The world in which they live keeps getting narrower, they have less and less space to circulate, but they try at all costs to keep up with their routines. What is known, what is familiar to them. They refuse to discuss any alternatives.


CorpoArena (BodyArena) is a triptych around the many challenges a body is confronted with. The action plays around food and how we can go on consuming like we now do; if we can secure sleeping in the age of maximum productivity; and if we really must go on aging. And what about dying?

(This text was written with the support of the DGLAB’s Scholarship for Literary Creation in Playwriting)

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