Viagem Medieval prepares Royal Battle
On the battlefield of Viagem Medieval em Terra de Santa Maria, there will be no distinctions. All 80 volunteers who are prepared to play the role of warriors in the dramatized re-enactment of the Battle of Aljubarrota will all be men-at-arms. The group is made up of 19 women and 59 men, aged 16 to 66, but only 28 have participated in previous editions. Among the newcomers, women stood out for their willingness and determination to take on the role.
For the last two weeks, the Royal Battle volunteers have received training in fencing and theatrical role-playing at Europarque, in Santa Maria da Feira. In early July they will ‘jump’ onto the battlefield, on the banks of the River Cáster, where they will join the remaining cast of the long-format military show, which will be presented every night of the event, from August 2nd to the 13th.
For some, this participation is therapy, while for others, an escape from their daily routine. But most volunteers find the medieval times fascinating and cherish the dream of taking part in this historical re-enactment. An example of this is the couple Alice Pires, aged 30, and Szymon Trel, aged 36, she is Brazilian and a belly dancer, he is Polish and a professional photographer, both living in Porto for just over a year.
Passionate about historical re-enactments and period movies, Alice and Szymon learned about the Viagem Medieval in 2022, and became fascinated by the event and jumped at this opportunity to be part of the project. Fatigue due to travel and shorter nights of rest have paid off in the form of excitement and anticipation to enter the battlefield. “It’s going to be amazing, exciting, unlike anything we’ve ever done”, Alice believes.
The rehearsals at Europarque are led by fencing and role-playing coaches, involved in setting up the show. They lead these rehearsals paying special attention to the sequence of blows that will be applied and they insist on expression and interpretation: how to shout, run, move forward or retreat on the battlefield.
“This whole group is very good, men and women alike. It takes a lot of dedication, both physically and mentally”, points out the Royal Battle’s stage director, Alex Barone, revealing that the total cast will be more expressive than in previous editions, since the show “will prioritise the huge amount of people” instead of set design.
Avelino Cerqueira, aged 66, is the oldest volunteer among the warriors and signed up because a friend suggested it. He ensures that this mission is to be accomplished and he has already received instructions to grow a beard up until the Viagem Medieval. Teenagers Sérgio Pais and Rodrigo Martins, both aged 16 and students of Science and Technology, are part of the group of younger warriors. They grew up with the Viagem Medieval, have always known about this event and this year they are debuting as volunteers in a challenging role, ready for whatever is proposed to them.
Reinaldo Brandão’s participation in this project happened by chance. Information about signing up as a warrior “appeared at his doorstep” via social media and he thought “why not?” At the age of 48, the owner of the Topázio restaurant, in Santa Maria da Feira, decided to embark on this adventure without any references in show business, but he guarantees that he will not give up. “It’s a different experience that combines fighting and acting, so I’m sure I’ll like it”, he says.
The Viagem Medieval em Terra de Santa Maria takes place from August 2nd to the 13th, in the historic centre of Santa Maria da Feira, and will recreate important episodes during the reign of King João I, especially the Battle of Aljubarrota.