Note from BW of Brazil: One of the most important figures in Afro-Brazilian History and Culture, Solando Tridade was born on July 24, 1908, in the district of San José, in Recife, Pernambuco. Besides being a poet, he was also a painter, playwright, actor and folklorist; a legitimate poet of black resistance par excellence. In 1930, he began to compose Afro-Brazilian poems. In 1934, he idealized the first Afro-Brazilian Congress in Recife and in 1936 participated in the second Afro-Brazilian Congress in Salvador, Bahia. In 1936, he founded the Frente Negra Pernambucana (Pernambuco Black Front) and the Centro de Cultura Afro-Brasileiro (Afro-Brazilian Culture Centre), for the dissemination of black intellectuals and artists. In 1940, he moved to Belo Horizonte. After arriving in Rio Grande do Sul, settling for a time in Pelotas, where he founded with poet Balduíno de Oliveira a folk art group, which didn’t move forward because of floods.
He returned to Recife in 1941, but soon went to Rio de Janeiro, where found success in “Café Vermelhinho”. In 1945, he founded the Comitê Democrático Afro-brasileiro (Afro-Brazilian Democratic Committee), with Raimundo Souza Dantas, Aladir Custódio and Corsino de Brito. In 1954, in in São Paulo, he created in the city of Embu, a center of Afro-American culture and traditions. In São Paulo he also founded the Teatro Popular Brasileiro (Brazilian Popular Theater) – TPB, where he developed intense cultural activity focused on folklore and the denouncement of racism. In 1955, he traveled to Europe with the TPB, where he put on singing and dancing spectaculars. He died in Rio de Janeiro, on February 19, 1974.
Today, Solano’s daughter, a gifted artist in her own right, Raquel Trindade, carries on the tradition.
40 years of Solano Trindade Popular Theater
by Marcelo Tomé
Black culture, popular culture, urban culture, maracatus (1), sambas, jongos (2), bumba meu boi (3), São Paulo coffee plantation, Afro-Brazilian culture and an objective established by his patron Solano Trindade that says: research in the source of origin and give it back to the people in the form of art. The phrase became the slogan of the Teatro Popular Solano Trindade (Solano Trindade Popular Theater) that researches black, popular and urban culture.
Teatro Popular Solano Trindade is a family that since the times of Solano Trindade has contributed and fought together with the Movimento Negro (black movement) for the self-esteem of the Afro-Brazilian people. The group’s history begins in 1936, when Solano founded the Centro Cultural Afro-Brasileiro and the Frente Negra Pernambuco (Black Front of Pernambuco), an extension of the Frente Negra Brasileira (Brazilian Black Front). And then in 1945, along with Abdias Nascimento, created the Comitê Democrático Afro-Brasileiro (Afro-Brazilian Democratic Committee).
Solano’s interest in popular culture went beyond theory: he never tired of founding theater groups, seeking to value the Afro-descendant and contributing to the self-esteem of black people. He worried about what he called folklore, with popular dances, always emphasizing the importance of research on culture in the original sources.
At a time when Europe was turning its “eyes” toward Brazil, researching what the country was creating as a cultural identity, Solano Trindade, his wife Maria Margarida da Trindade and his friend Carneiro, created a group of workers, students, ordinary people; and in this way, ended up being invited to go to Europe, and show his work in several countries, divulging around the world dances, songs and rhythms of African origin brought to Brazil by enslaved blacks from the period of the sixteenth to the nineteenth century.
The group, called Teatro Popular Brasileiro (Brazilian Popular Theatre) gave origin to Teatro Popular Solano Trindade (Solano Trindade Popular Theatre) that in 2015 turns 40. Founded in Embu das Artes, still in the 70s, a period that the Movimento Negro in Brazil gained more impact, the initiative stands out as the main black theater group in the country.
Teatro Popular Solano Trindade, that has made presentations in various parts of the country and meet at its headquarters researchers, students and the general public interested in the Afro-Brazilian culture, with the objective of preserving and promoting black and popular culture and believing that culture is the root of knowledge and transformation inherent in all ethnic groups from the appearance of man.
In recognition of the valuable work, Raquel Trindade, one of its founders, was invited to teach at Unicamp Black Theatre to administer classes of Teatro Negro no Brasil e Sincretismo Religioso Black Theater in Brazil and Religious syncretism) from 1987 to 1992, even not having academic training, also lecturing at the Federal University of São Carlos, Anhembi Morumbi, USP (University of São Paulo) and currently in the extension course Identidade Cultural Afro-brasileira (African-Brazilian Cultural Identity or ICAB) at UNIFESP.
The Teatro Popular Solano Trindade nucleus contributed to the formation of Afro-Brazilian identity, from the time of its founding to the present day. Now at age 40, the Teatro Popular Solano Trindade remains a reference in black culture, and one doesn’t speak of popular culture in the country without reference to Solano Trindade, Raquel Trindade, her family and the 40 members who today embellish and enrich the group.
The documentary O legado de Solano Trindade (The legacy of Solano Trinity) summarizes the life of this poet, actor, playwright and folklorist.
1. Maracatu is a performance found in Pernambuco state in northeastern Brazil. There are two main types of maracatu, maracatu de nação (nation-style maracatu) and maracatu rural (rural-style maracatu). Maracatu de nação (also known as maracatu de baque virado: “maracatu of the turned-around beat”) is an Afro-Brazilian performance genre. The term, often shortened simply to nação (“nation”, pl. nações), refers not only to the performance, but to the performing groups themselves. Maracatu de nação’s origins lie in the investiture ceremonies of the Reis do Congo (Kings of Congo), who were slaves that occupied leadership roles within the slave community. When slavery was abolished in Brazil in 1888, the institution of the Kings of Congo ceased to exist. Nonetheless, nações continued to choose symbolic leaders and evoke coronation ceremonies for those leaders. Although a maracatu performance is secular, traditional nações are grouped around Candomblé or Jurema (Afro-Brazilian religions) terreiros (bases) and the principles of Candomblé infuse their activities. Maracatu rural is also known as maracatu de baque solto, maracatu de orquestra, and maracatu de trombone. It is rooted in the Pernambucan interior and evolved in the early 20th century as a fusion of pre-existing forms of Carnival revelry. It is considered to be Afro-indigenous in origin. Its members, typically sugarcane workers, are involved with the native-influenced Catimbó religion. Maracatu rural has a high participation rate with dozens of groups in operation. Source
2. Jongo, also known as caxambu or tambu, is a dance and musical genre of black communities from southeast Brazil. Inserting itself within the so-called ‘dances of the belly strike’ (however being related to the ‘Semba’ or ‘Masemba’ of Angola), the Jongo was brought to Brazil by Bantus. Generally, these Bantus were kidnapped in the ancient kingdoms of Ndongo and Kongo, which nowadays makes up most of the region of Angola. Source
3. Bumba-meu-boi (Hit-my-bull) is a Brazilian folk theatrical tradition. The tale is told through the music, the costumes and drumming involving a bull, which dies and is brought back to life. Versions of the tale vary regionally, but the most important central characters include the Bull (a player in an elaborate costume), Catirina (an ugly pregnant girl, usually played by a man in drag), a cowboy who is in charge of the Bull and who causes the Bull to die, the priest, the rich and powerful owner of the Bull, and the music (which magically drums the Bull back to life). Festivals where groups all tell their versions of the Bumba-meu-boi tale can be found throughout Brazil. Also called Boi-bumbá ([ˈboj bũˈba]), it is a popular traditional festival which takes place annually in the regions North and Northeast of Brazil, although celebrations can be found throughout the country. Source