CACTUS non-poetic anthology of the female character breakdown

Instructions for an audition-performance based on breakdowns of female characters. 

An invitation for actresses to enter a dramaturgical collaboration, to share, and play with these materials.
Original idea by Mafalda Lencastre with an open invitating the participation in the first stage of the project (collection of character breakdowns).


A cactus is a succulent adapted to dry, desert-like conditions. Not all succulents are cacti; only one quarter of the 10,000 species of succulents belong to the cactus family. Most cacti store moisture in their stems rather than in thick, fleshy leaves like other succulents.

Many live in extremely dry environments, even being found in the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places on earth. 

  • A. The prostitute is a woman between 25 and 35 years old. Raised in a dysfunctional family, she runs away as a teeenager and starts a new life all by herself. She takes on odd jobs but always quits them, because she has a strong sense of independence. Once she understands the power of her own body, she starts using it as a survival tool.

Cacti show many adaptations to conserve water. Almost all cacti are succulents, meaning they have thickened, fleshy parts adapted to store water. Unlike many other succulents, the stem is the only part of most cacti where this vital process takes place. Most species of cacti have lost true leaves, retaining only spines, which are highly modified leaves. As well as defending against herbivores, spines help prevent water loss by reducing air flow close to the cactus and providing some shade. In the absence of leaves, enlarged stems carry out photosynthesis.

  • B. Great looks, great acting. Very expressive, talented, and charismatic. Cool, pragmatic, classy. Always in a good mood and nice. Attractive, funny, confident, independent, well-adjusted but, at the same time, lovely and ‘very likeable’. She’s a woman who keeps her cool under pressure. She’s very pretty (real/human), but relatable thanks to her graciousness and confidence. She bonds with the camera.

Many cacti have short growing seasons and long dormancies, and are able to react quickly to any rainfall, helped by an extensive but relatively shallow root system that quickly absorbs any water reaching the ground surface. Cactus stems are often ribbed or fluted, which allows them to expand and contract easily for quick water absorption after rain, followed by long drought periods. Like other succulent plants, most cacti employ a special mechanism called "crassulacean acid metabolism" (CAM) as part of photosynthesis. 


  • C. Patrícia lived in shelters and institutions until she turned 18, but that didn’t make her a sad and bitter person. Instead, she is a funny and cheerful young woman, who learnt from life’s setbacks and became a stronger person with clear goals. Patrícia tries to dress discreetly and elegantly, but, at the same time, in a very feminine way. She doesn’t hold back from giving advice to others, drawing on her life lessons and inspiring quotes.

Transpiration, during which carbon dioxide enters the plant and water escapes, does not take place during the day at the same time as photosynthesis, but instead occurs at night. The plant stores the carbon dioxide it takes in as malic acid, retaining it until daylight returns, and only then using it in photosynthesis. Because transpiration takes place during the cooler, more humid night hours, water loss is significantly reduced.

A few species differ significantly in appearance from most of the family.

  • D.  Rita studies Law in a private university and Joana goes out of her way for her daughter to focus on her studies and not worry about their money problems. However, the daughter doesn’t acknowledge her efforts, and their relationship is tense. Joana looks after Ricardo. When Rita finds out that Ricardo bequeathed, in his will, most of his fortune to her mother, she plans his death and ends up carrying it out. At school, Rita meets Maria and begins coveting everything she has, including her boyfriend.

Cacti have a variety of uses: many species are used as ornamental plants, others are grown for fodder or forage, and others for food (particularly their fruit).