Note from BW of Brazil: It may sound like an old cliche but it is absolutely true. If you want something done, you have to do it yourself! And this is exactly what three women are trying to do by creating a play based on the life and works of the great Carolina de Jesus, whose 1960 classic book Quarto de Despejo (Child of the Dark in English) brought the experiences of a poor, single black woman with three children trying to survive in the slums of a brutally unequal city of São Paulo. The fact that Carolina managed to get her work published and then translated into several languages was a miracle in itself, especially considering the fact that Brazilian elites have forever attempted to extinguish the experiences and lives (figuratively and literally) of black Brazilians since the first Africans began to arrive in the 1530s.
As the Brazilian media continues to pretend that the black experience doesn’t exist, plays such as this one and other stage productions are extremely important as they allow these artists to present important facets of Afro-Brazilian culture and history as well as personalities that deserve their rightful place. As in a recent production that re-interprets the story of a former slave that became a rich woman in the 18th century, Chica da Silva, we look forward to seeing more of these productions in the future. If you would like to contribute to this project, please see information here!
Memories of a black woman and a play in search for support
By Shulamith Esteliam
Let’s change the direction of the prose and aesthetics a little bit:
Think of a black woman and favelada (slum resident) being a writer in 1960.
Think of this woman and single mother of three children, one from each father.
Think of the revolution that was this life.
Quarto de Despejo is the title of the book written by Carolina Maria de Jesus. A memoir of a favelada, black, from the state of Minas Gerais, and her perspective from life in her little room of wood, tin and cardboard. A book about the people, principles and/or their betrayal, about the struggle for survival.
Carolina’s entire life is a challenge. A platform of resistance. A mirror other lives of hundreds of thousands of black women from the seven corners of this, our Brazil. Women who challenge the existing order. Survivors.
It’s a story that needs to be told and retold – hundreds, tens, thousands of times. Told by different voices, in a thousand different ways, so as not to miss it. And inspire Carolinas and Marias to bring their testimony, to make public their mark on the world.
The narrative in highlight I found in the profile of a friend from Minas Gerais, Eda Costa Renzulli, an actress, singer and singing teacher, two weeks ago. I extract from a well-written text, that I share in the opening sequence, in free adaptation – for respect and addiction.
Eda, in turban, joined the group Circo Teatro Olho da Rua, of Beagá (BH or Belo Horizonte, capital city of Minas Gerais); along with the also actresses and singers Carlandréia Ribeiro and Laís Lacôrte – by order of appearance in the video.
They invited the producer Aláfia Cultura to join the project: to take on the challenge of representing the life and memories of Carolina memories: Memórias de Bitita – o coração que não silenciou (Bitita’s memories – the heart that has not silenced).
Without resources or cultural incentive, they came out in search of crowd funding through Variável, a Belo Horizonte site that seeks financial support for cultural projects – like others, all over Brazil.
The stage show is scheduled to premiere the 16th of June at the Teatro Espanca under the Santa Tereza Viaduct, in downtown Beagá. The deadline, therefore, is on the heels of the production. The project costs R$16,000,500, and you can contribute within your means: the donations range from R$20 to R$ 4,000, and is open until June 11.
Memórias de Bitita – o coração que não silenciou
About the project
Carolina Maria de Jesus. For those not familiar, is the author of Quarto de Despejo, a memoir of a favelada about what she saw in a life in her little room made of wood, tin and cardboard, and about how people are sometimes led to betray their principles to survive.
We are the group Circo Teatro Olho da Rua, and we invited the producer Aláfia Cultura to assist us in the grateful task of representing Carolina.
Think of a black and slum woman writer in 1960. Think about that woman and single mother of three children, one from each parent. Think of the revolution that was that life.
This story needs to be told and retold hundreds, tens, thousands of times, by different voices, a thousand different ways, so as not to miss any detail of this visceral survivor who had the privilege of having as countrywoman.
Carolina entire life is a challenge. A resistance platform. And she is a reflection of the hundreds of thousands of black women who survive every day crowded the corners of our country, which run to survive, they do not heed the existing order.
It’s about this woman that we will speak with the help of each of you. Our goal is to raise R$16,500.00 to put on the street (opening day 19/06) Memórias de Bitita – o coração que não silenciou, a play about the life and memory of this Brazilian fighter, this woman who did not bow down ‘til her last day.
The story of Carolina is intertwined with the history of blackness, strength, a fighter, survivor and chameleon, that never shied away from life. And as with everything in our trajectory, the way to construct this dream is collective, with the many hands coming together.
In this way, they are collective rewards we are offering to those who contribute to this endeavor. We have knocked on many doors, we have told black men and women of Belo Horizonte our dream and of those who believed and dreamed with us, here are the donated rewards to encourage those who will donate money to fund the piece.
In fact, we believe that having the chance to in helping in the construction of this story, in itself, is already a great reward.
We have 30 days for this collection. If we fail to reach the proposal, we refund everything that was collected and we remain with our sadness. But we are sure that this time is more than enough for us to unite and make this dream a reality. We shall, each one of us, be responsible for keeping alive the Memórias de Bitita (Bitita’s memories).
Memórias de Bitita – o coração que não silenciou (Bitita’s memories – the heart that has not silenced)
Circo Teatro Olho da Rua, presents: Memórias de Bitita – o coração que não silenciou– a free adaptation of the work of Carolina Maria de Jesus. Artistic direction: Jacó do Nascimento
Project idealization: Carlandréia Ribeiro
Cast: Carlandréia Ribeiro, Eda Costa Renzulli, Laís Lacôrte – with special participation of Jacó do Nascimento
Director: Jacob Nascimento
Musical direction: Junim Ribeiro
Corporal preparation: Dulce Beltrao
Vocal preparation: Eda Costa
Design idealization: Carlandréia Ribeiro
Realization: Circo Teatro Olho da Rua
Executive Producer: Aláfia Cultura
Scenario: Jacob Nascimento
Videos: Marcos Donizetti
Photos: Cida Reis, Gabriel Nogueira and Marcos Donizetti
Realization and production: Circo Teatro Olho da Rua
Artistic team – R$5,000.00
Scenography – R$2,500.00
Costumes – R$2,500.00
Spaces for testing – R$1,500.00
Graphic material – R$500.00
Production – R$3,000.00
Rates and rewards – R$1,500.00