From 23 March to 1 April BaixoCentro took place, a self-managed Street Festival in São Paulo that is organized collaboratively, horizontally and independently by a group of producers and...
Theatre Scene Hotspots
Most Brazilians involved in theatre production will tell you that Brazil’s hippest scene is the Praça Roosevelt (Roosevelt Square) in São Paulo. But in such a huge country it is unfair to focus in on one scene as a Ground Zero. The Brazilian theatre scene boils on different fronts and different levels.
Praça Roosevelt was a decadent square in downtown São Paulo that was revived by the installation of eight theatre companies. The square was full of prostitutes, transvestites and drug dealers. The theatre companies didn’t necessarily want to expel them, rather they allowed them to participate in the social and artistic transformation of the Square. The Satyros theatre group, for example, included the local transsexuals in one of their productions called Transex, the first in their Trilogy of Praça Roosevelt. Satyros director Rodolfo García Vázquez, describes the Praça Roosevelt as: “an example of a fringe universe with a harmonious tension between nutcases, transvestites, prostitutes, little old middle-class ladies, artists and general public.”
The Praça Roosevelt movement inspired Hamburg director Dea Loher of the Thalia Theatre to write a play called “Das Leben auf der Praça Roosevelt”. Other theatres in the square included Studio 184 and Parlapatões, both of which were heavily involved in the Art Against Barbarity Movement (Arte Contra a Barbárie) which advocated the Lei de Fomento, São Paulo’s unique theatre subsidy law. But São Paulo is a world on its own in terms of theatre. Some say São Paulo respira teatro, ‘São Paulo breathes theatre’, keeping in mind that the population of the city of São Paulo equals that of the whole of The Netherlands.
A Teatro Mineiro?
A number of theatre groups from the State of Minas Gerais have been gaining notoriety over the past years. And when the press speaks of one of them they automatically speak of a Mineiro Theatre movement, A Theatre of the State of Minas Gerais. Rather than having a style in common, what they do have in common is that these companies grew out of a generation of people attending the FIT-BH Festival Internacional de Teatro as well as performances, workshops and festivals promoted by the 25-year-old Grupo Galpão theatre company. One such festival of the Grupo Galpão is the Festival de Cenas Curtas (Festival or Short Scenes), prompting theatre experimentation. Everything they do takes place in their Galpão Cine Horto facility which also offers classes for actors (The Oficinão) and develops a deep relationship with audiences. Some works developed at the Galpão Cine Horto evolved into larger works and even theatre companies. Amongst the most important groups which grew out these experiences in Minas Gerais are: Luna Lunera, Companhia Clara which has its own 90 seat theatre and is now a partner with the FIT-BH Festival, and Espanca! which came together because of the Festival of Short Scenes. Espanca! is one of the most brilliant theatre groups in Brazil today, building a fascinating repertoire in a short period.
Other names from Minas Gerais are director Rita Clemente and Cida Falabella, director of the Grupo Zap 18 based in Belo Horizonte’s poorer outskirts.
Born out of a meeting at Galpão Cine Horto in 2004, Redemoinho, the Brazilian Movement of Creation Spaces, Exchange and Theatrical Research (Movimento Brasileiro de Espaços de Criação, Compartilhamento e Pesquisa Teatral) works toward creating a national network of theatre spaces. They have also consolidated themselves as a national political movement and they actively lobby for a Federal Law of Theatre Subsidy. Approximately 70 theatre groups and cultural entities from 11 States are part of Redemoinho. Every year a national council is elected. In 2009 counselors were: Fernando Yamamoto of Grupo Clowns de Shakespeare (Natal), Marcelo Bones do Grupo Teatro Andante (Belo Horizonte) who is also the new coordinator of Performing Arts of FUNARTE, Tânia Farias of Tribo de Atuadores Ói Nóis Aqui Traveiz (Porto Alegre) and José Fernando Azevedo do Teatro de Narradores (São Paulo). To view the updated council go to: www.redemoinho.org
Vila Santa Isabel in Barão Geraldo in Campinas
Campinas is known as Brazil’s Silicon Valley, home to hundreds of computer and telecommunications companies. It contains several universities such as PUC-Campinas, Facamp, Universidade São Francisco and Unicamp and is therefore a region teeming with students. Santa Isabel in the Campinas district of Barão Geraldo is known for its intense cultural activity. At least eight theatre companies are based there some of which grew out of the university scene. Amongst them: Boa Companhia, Sarau, Seres de Luz (Argentinean), Barracão, Grupo Peleja, Grupo Tal, Matula, Grupo do Santo, Semente, and Lume. Lume, runs the Núcleo Interdisciplinar de Pesquisas Teatrais da Unicamp collaborating with theatre institutions in the USA, Denmark, Italy, Portugal and other countries. In addition, in the days leading up to Carnival there is the Feverestival which brings together national and international group as well as over 300 actors, directors and filmmakers for exchanges.
Movimento Lapada (Encontrão da Lapada)
This is a movement that organizes artistic exchange to encourage the growth of theatre in the Northeast. It was organized by the groups: Bagaceira, Máquina (from Ceará), Clowns de Shakespeare (Natal), Estandarte (Rio Grande do Norte), Alfenim, Piolim and Ser Tão (Paraíba). For two years the movement has been discussing how to organize themselves at a national level. The first meeting was held in Natal, Rio Grande do Norte, where proposed themes were discussed and artistic practices were exchanged. Smaller meetings have been held in April 2008 in João Pessoa, for example, under the name of I Mostra de Teatro de Grupo. In this year’s edition, the collective invited various other groups from nearby states to participate as observers.
The Mostra Cariri or Cariri Review of Culture is a SESC partnership which brings together a variety of cultural manifestations - everything from music, theatre (both national and international), Brazilian Indian rituals (which are seen rarely in theatre festivals), and mestres (or storytellers of popular culture) are invited. Few festivals bring together such diversity. The festival, which lasts a week, is very cool, to say the least, and takes place under very hot sun in three small cities: Juazeiro do Norte, Crato and Nova Olinda. Unlike almost all festivals in the world this one keeps the artists to the end so they can be part of the whole event including the Overdoze, the grand finale. Everyone who performed throughout the festival performs in the Overdoze one after another in 3 different theatres. Crowds move from theatre to theatre in the intense heat of the night. Northeastern food, drink, music are enjoyed on two intersecting streets that are closed off in front of the SESC Crato. It all ends with a breakfast at 7 in the morning. The amazing thing about this festival is that 10 years ago the municipality of Crato didn’t even have a theatre and now the three towns are alive with theatres. Everyone from young to old, from business people to cab drivers all flock to see the many performances - a vivid example of audience-building.
In Cariri in the small town of Nova Olinda one should not forget to mention Fundação Casa Grande, a theatre run entirely by children. They operate the lighting, shoot and edit a TV show, stage radio programs, and basically do everything in the theatre.