Note from BW of Brazil: With so many independent black theater and film productions being released on You Tube one could say that black Brazilian entertainment is slowly carving out its own niche and audience to such a degree that one day it could be conceivably possible that mainstream media attention won’t even be necessary. With the right promotional boost, both of these outlets are allowing Afro-Brazilians to share their talent and tell a story/history that one simply doesn’t see on television stations. It’s a shame and very deceptive, as for decades, the media has promoted a narrative in which the viewer would be led to believe that the world of Afro-Brazil simply doesn’t exist. As if concerns and issues that specifically affect black Brazilians are not important enough to be represented as another facet of Brazilian life. The media had better be careful. Over the last few years this author has heard and read numerous comments in which a parcel of black Brazil is saying “If I don’t see myself, I don’t watch/buy.” I hope to see this sentiment continue and grow. Because with enough influence, the media will soon have no choice but to listen to what a large portion of its population wants…or die!
Melanina Acentuada has been bringing the voice of Afro-Brazilian playwrights to stages across Brazil for a number of years. Its latest stint ended on August 14th, but the piece below provides excellent insight into its importance.
Melanina Acentuada spectacular brings together black Brazilian playwrights
Spectaculars, meetings, workshops, seminars and dramatic readings make up the program of the event that will take place at the Espaço Cultural da Barroquinha
The drama produced by black men and black women authors are in the focus of the scene in Salvador, Bahia, from July 19th to August 14th in the IV Edição da Nova Mostra Melanina Acentuada (4th edition of the New Show Melanina Acentuada), at the Espaço Cultural da Barroquinha, an ancestrally significant site for the black community in the state. After passing through Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, the event returns to Salvador and offers a program that will bring together theater performances, dramatic readings, seminars, chat and shop. The festival will open on Tuesday, July 19, at 7pm, with a report on the experience of actress Léa Garcia about her experience in TEN – Teatro Experimental do Negro (Black Experimental Theatre), a group founded and directed by Abdias do Nascimento in 1944. This encounter will be mediated by the playwright and creator of the Mostra Nova Dramaturgia Melanina Acentuada, Aldri Anunciação.
On the occasion the vernissage of the exhibition Dramaturgos Negros Brasileiros (Black Brazilian Playwrights) will also take place, consisting of a chronological exhibition of photos of Brazilian playwrights throughout the XIX, XX and XXI centuries until the date of the exhibition’s opening. The guest of the opening night, Léa Garcia has a legendary history in the struggle for the conquest of space of black creators in the performing arts. Born in the city of Rio de Janeiro, she is one of the great women of Brazilian theater. At the age of 16, she thought of being a writer and was preparing to attend the School of Philosophy when she discovered the Teatro Experimental do Negro (TEN) and with other young people, joined the company led by Abdias do Nascimento. In 1952, she debuted as an actress in the Teatro Recreio (Recreio Theater) in the spectacular Rapsódia Negra (Black Rhapsody), of Abdias do Nascimento, in which she interpreted the poetry of Castro Alves. In TEN she performed in several productions. Parallel to the stage, she also acts in film and television. She gained great prominence competing for the 1957 Palma de Ouro (Cannes Festival Award) coming in second place at the Cannes Film Festival for her performance as Serafina in the film Orfeu Negro (Black Orpheus) of Marcel Camus. In 2004, she won the Kikito Award for best actress award at the Gramado Film Festival for Filhas do Vento (Daughters of the Wind), a film directed by Joel Zito Araújo. On television she also played major roles, with one of the most famous being the character Rosa in Escrava Isaura (Isaura the Slave) novela (soap opera). Recently, she debuted in Dia de Jerusa (Jerusa’s Day), by the Bahian filmmaker Viviane Ferreira.
The montages bring selected dramaturgy and enactments by black creators, revealing a panorama that points to aesthetic searches and discussions raised. The programming of the pieces are composed of:: Isto Não É Uma Mulata (This Is Not A Mulata) (Bahia), dramaturgy and staging by Mônica Santana (on the 22nd), Sete Ventos (Seven Winds) (Rio de Janeiro), dramaturgy and staging by Débora Almeida (the 23rd), O Campo de Batalha (The Battlefield) (Bahia ), with text by Aldri Anunciação and directing by Márcio Meirelles (29th and 30th), Se Deus fosse Preto (If God were Black) (Bahia), direction and creation of Sérgio Laurentino, Vaga Carne (Minas Gerais), by playwright and director Grace Passô (5th, 6th and 7th of August), Namíbia, Não!, directed by Lázaro Ramos (August 12th, 13th and 14th) and O Circo de um Homem Só (One-Man Circus) (Bahia), with conception and performance by João Lima. The shows are always presented 7pm. Check all programming.
Aldri Anunciação believes that the presence of black men and black women occupying the creative function of dramaturgy is fundamental: “Us telling our history through our own writing is an urgency. Not only for black societies, but above all for the improvement of human relations in the world! Hence the importance of increasingly encouraging and divulging the playwrights of melanina acentuada who tell their truths honestly through their fictions.”
Dramaturgia NEGRA (BLACK Dramaturgy) – The Mostra Nova Melanina Acentuada will promote moments of the sharing of creative processes with the authors, the so-called Encontros com Dramaturgos (Encounters with Playwrights) has the function of provoking the playwrights to think about their doings and their authorship, and foster a debate on teatro negro (black theater) by way of aesthetics, language, mode, history and criticism and not just the inclination of militancy and a spectacle. There will be four moments, always on Thursdays at 7pm: on July 21st, with Mônica Santana; July 28th, with Sérgio Laurentino; August 4th, with Grace Passô and August 11th, with João Lima.
For the playwright Cristiane Sobral, events with an emphasis on dramaturgia negra (black dramaturgy) and literatura negra (black literature) are essential to demarcate a territory of existence and resistance before the still prevailing European canon in theater and literature. “Since colonization in Brazil, many have written about blacks and for blacks. The vozes negras (black voices) were not invited, with rare exceptions, to present their point of view of a unique history,” emphasizes the author.
Dramatic readings – In addition to watching spectaculars, the audience will be able to discover new texts in dramatic readings, on Wednesdays, always at 7pm. Opening the cycle, on July 20th, A Mulher do Fundo do Mar (The Woman from the Bottom of the Sea), an unpublished text of Aldri Anunciação, which reveals the story of a woman living on the bottom of the sea somewhere between África and Brazil. She doesn’t know if fell off a boat of refugees or fell from a navio negreiro (slave ship). On July 27, the public will see the first dramatic text of Ana Maria Gonçalves, entitled Diversos. The playwright Cristiane Sobral will present the text “Uma Boneca no Lixo” (A Doll in the Trash), a monologue about the differences in a multicultural country that challenges the myth of the Brazilian racial democracy. Closing the cycle of readings, a new work of Anunciação, “Embarque Imediato” (Now Boarding), a text that narrates the meeting of a young black Brazilian with an old black African suddenly detained in the immigration area of an airport of an unidentified country.
Reflection – The New Melanina Acentuada will offer moments of intellectual reflection on dramaturgy, as well as on issues related to the representation of blacks and issues related to contemporary art, on Thursdays starting at 3pm. The seminar will have four dates: on July 28th, the theme is As Influências Estéticas da Dramaturgia Negra no Brasil (The Aesthetic Influences of Black Dramaturgy in Brazil) with the novelist Ana Maria Gonçalves, followed by Prof. Dr. Liv Sovik. On August 4th, the contributions will be about theater in Portuguese-speaking African countries, with Prof. Dr. Iris Amâncio (UFRRJ – Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro), playwright Cristiane Sobral and Ms.ª Fernanda Júlia (UFBA – Federal University of Bahia). Closing the scheduling of the conferences, on August 11th, the debates will be on female Authorship and their (im)possibilities of dialogue with the Brazilian publishing market! with Dr. Fernanda Felisberto (UFRRJ), “A França e Josephine Baker: o exótico como marca” (France and Josephine Baker: the exotic as a mark) with Prof. Dr. Jeferson Bacelar (UFBA) and Hubert Ogunde, Alarinjo e Não-tempo (Alarinjo and non-time) with Diego Pinheiro (Director).
Workshop – The Mostra Nova Melanina Acentuada will promote a Dramaturgical Writing Workshop ministered by Aldri Anunciação, with a workload of 12 hours. Geared toward young and novice writers, the activity will provide practical exercises for creative production. On the occasion creation strategies and principles will be shared. 20 vacancies and registrations are being offered and can be made through the site.
Melanina Acentuada – The project, which began in 2013, has the purpose of investigating the aesthetics, identity, themes and productions of contemporary black theater, having as a guide scenic and dramaturgical writing authored by Afro-Brazilian artists. Over these three years of activity, the cataloging of over 61 young and black playwrights working in the country was created.
Source: Correio Nagô