Paper, Bone and Bile Short Stories

A Tarumba


A Tarumba premiered in Lisbon, at Teatro do Bairro, "Paper, Bone and Bile Short Stories".

12 to 16 February | Wednesday to Saturday at 9.30pm, Sunday at 5pm


Teatro do Bairro | Rua Luz Soriano, 63

Tickets: 10€ / 5€ (<25, >65, students, performing arts professionals and holders of card TdB)

Reservations (Teatro do Bairro): +351 213 473 358  |  +351 913 211 263

Tickets Online


It's well we cannot hear the screams we make in other people's dreams.
- Edward Gorey


"Paper, Bone and Bile Short Stories" draws inspiration from several authors, such as Edward Gorey, Mário-Henrique Leiria and Max Aub, to build a narrative with countless readings of unusual events.
This play is about surreal or bizarre situations that can completely change one’s life around. Histories and tiny stories lost in songs, books and operas, or inspired by everyday life. Past and future are bended in a lyrical reflection punctuated by dark humour.
Brief visual narratives depicting isolation and humanity, and deeply touching our unconscious. A whiff, a hanging point between two worlds: that of humans and that of matter.



I first killed him in my dreams and then I couldn’t help myself, I killed him for real. It was inevitable.
- Max Aub

When we are led to look the same object for a long time, we transform it.
- Mário-Henrique Leiria


In approaching authors such as Edward Gorey, Mário-Henrique Leiria or Max Aub, but also singers such as Nick Cave, Elvis Presley or Johnny Cash, among others, we find something that unites them - unusual short stories about death and love. From here was chosen the starting point and inspiration: the murder ballads.

A murder ballad typically recounts the details of a mythic or true crime - who the victim is, why the murderer decides to kill him or her, how the victim is lured to the murder site, and the act itself - followed by the escape and/or capture of the murderer. Often the ballad ends with the murderer in jail or on the way to execution, occasionally with a plea for the listeners not to copy the evils committed by the murderer as recounted by the singer.

Murder ballads exerts a strange fascination. In earlier times they were also a way of spreading the news of such macabre events. Murder ballads take all sorts of forms, from gallows confession to the chronicles of wild west outlaws.

Some murder ballads tell the story from the point of view of the murderer, or attempt to portray the murderer in a somewhat sympathetic light. Other murder ballads tell the tale of the crime from the point of view of the victim. Others tell the story with greater distance, telling the details of the crime and the punishment without any attempt to arouse sympathy for the criminal. Its origins date back to the Middle Ages and seem to originate in Scandinavia, England, Ireland or Scotland. 

Many of these ballads are big hits from popular culture or even the life songs of many couples in love. Our fascination with bloodshed is deeply ingrained in folklore, fairy tales or traditional songs.

"Paper, Bone and Bile Short Stories" departs from the imaginary of these ballads to reveal stories full of dark humour. 

The devices created to tell these stories are moving panoramas or crankies, articulated paper-made figures, images, and graphic signs. A set of articulated heads acts as a choir of assassins, inspired by the ancient talking heads used by magicians or ventriloquists and in automata. Several crankies of different sizes and shapes report visually some of the bizarre events.


A Tarumba premiered "Paper, Bone and Bile Short Stories" in Festival Internacional de Marionetas do Porto, 17 and 18 October, at Teatro Municipal do Porto - Rivoli.



Direction, builders and puppeteers: Luís Vieira, Rute Ribeiro Adaptation and texts: Rute Ribeiro Sound design: Miguel Lucas Mendes Lighting devices: Zé Rui Light operation: Tânia Neto Sound Operation: Rui Castro Executive producer and manipulation assistance: Daniela Matos Photography: José Caldeira⁄TMP, Susana Neves, Luís Vieira Artistic residencies: São Luiz Teatro Municipal, Théâtre Le Passage, Théâtre La Licorne Support and partnerships: Câmara Municipal de Lisboa, EGEAC Company supported by: República Portuguesa - Ministério da Cultura | DGARTES Technique: Crankies, images and articulated paper figures For audiences over: +14 Running time: 45 min.