Note from BW of Brazil: Musicals and plays are areas in which Afro-Brazilian groups have been utilizing to present issues and experiences of the black community that are rarely, if ever portrayed in the mainstream media. Over the past few years we’ve seen a number of pieces presented on various stages throughout the country in a genre that could realistically be called “black theater”. As BW of Brazil has attempted to show since November of 2011, there is a whole world of discussions, debates and issues surrounding topics such as racism, racial identity, hair texture, social ascension, cultural appropriation and interracial relationships, just to name a few, all of which being talked about among a small, but growing community of black consciousness, that one would never know existed in Brazil. Plays such as the one featured today are just another example of a rising shift in the way race relations and black issues are being are being dealt with in Latin America’s largest, most populous nation.
Nega Collective addresses problems faced by the black population in performance at SESC Prainha
Courtesy of O Barato de Floripa
On the 23rd, 24th and 25th of February (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday), the Coletivo Nega (Nega Collective) enters mini season at SESC (1) Prainha. The performances take place every day at 8:00pm and admission is free.
Preta-à-Porter (2016) is a performance of the Coletiva which is based on personal stories of the actresses and the everyday problems faced by the black population, exploring the experience of black women who are and have passed through the cast.
The performance was born four years ago and will change according to the cast. More than 20 actors have passed through the show, each making a contribution. The scenes, as well as the actresses who remain in the group are modified, when necessary, according to the concerns and poetic and political demands.
The O Departamento de Artes Cênicas (DAC or Department of Performing Arts of the State University of Santa Catarina (UDESC) and Direção de Extensão do Centro de Artes (Direction of Extension of Center of Arts) (CEART) created in 2011, the Program NEGA – Negras Experimentações Grupo de Artes (Black Experimentations Group of Arts). This extension program supports the works of training, creation and presentation of the NEGA Collective, a group of afro-descendentes (African descendant) artists whose contemporary theater practice is based on expressions and cultural manifestations of African origin.
The Nega Collective receives ongoing training in theatrical interpretation; in popular dances of African origin; and Afro-Brazilian and Latin percussion. From this training, it creates and presents performances and shows.
Coletivo NEGA Scene (training in theater and dance), NEGA Ritmo (Rhythm) (training in percussion) and Comunidade (Community) NEGA (cultivation of partnerships with university, community and society) make it possible for the cast of Coletivo NEGA to develop their artistic and cultural activities.
Cast: Franco, Michele Mafra, Rita Roldan, Sarah Motta, Juan Quaresma and Thuanny Paes.
Body Preparation: Aldelice Braga (Neguinha)
Collective creation with Fátima Costa de Lima
Note from BW of Brazil: Below is a review of this piece from 2014.
The Coletivo NEGA – a critique of the Preta-à-Porter spectacular
By Willian Luiz da Conceição
On Monday, on May 26, 2014, I forced myself to leave the house and go to SESC/Prainha in Florianópolis. On the agenda was a play, the Coletivo NEGA/UDESC re-presented the piece Preta-à-Porter. I had already been asked various times and, because of the eventualities of life, I attended for the first time tonight, not a play, but a real spectacular.
The Coletivo NEGA is a tradition of Brazilian theater, but specifically Teatro Negro (Black Theatre) created in 1941 by Abdias do Nascimento, writer, artist, political and anti-racist militant, the historic Teatro Experimental do Negro (Black Experimental Theater)- TEN, aimed to overcome racism and the exclusion of black men and women from national theater. The Afro-Peruvian Theatre of Victoria Santa Cruz, choreographer, designer and Peruvian composer who scored in the performance of “me gritaron negra!” (they screamed at me, negra) is cited in Preto-à-Porter.
The Preta-à-Porter spectacular of the Coletivo NEGA is a complex piece, and already I’ve warn the politically correct, the racists on duty, it’s impossible to leave indifferent. The spectacular brings the stories of racism experienced by its own members, a kind of psychoanalytical regression involving all of them. Does Freud explain? The piece deals with the innermost and provocative desire of “drive out my demons.” The theater protest of NEGA doesn’t lack in quality, aesthetics, their performance bothers, subverts us, torments us in their everyday narratives. The makeup of its characters reinforces blackness, the lips in dark tones, the freedom of hair, lighting, stage games, the musicality of poetry itself, the projection of shadows, this group shows the quality of the direction of the spectacular.
It is evident that the Coletivo NEGA is not only a theater group, it’s a political collective in times of negation of the political. The show denounces the oppressions that mark the day-to-day and involve blacks and whites, men and women; machismo, homophobia and racism are placed in check. And facing the dilemmas of branquitude (whiteness). If the audience sings “ÔH Nega do cabelo duro qual é o pente que te penteia?” (Oh, nega – black woman – with the hard hair, which is the comb that combs you?) The defense response is “ÔH branco do cabelo mole, qual é a merda que tu engole?” (Oh white people with the soft hair, what is the shit that swallows you?). NEGA is not ashamed to engage the theater. Be warned! In scenes, one questions the feminine as a commodity and the standards of beauty, violence, rape, neglect, childhood marked by low self-esteem, poverty, who was/and is constantly a victim of racism without being/doing one vitimista (victim-playing) theater. Why a theater formed mostly by Black women/men? Because the historical invisibility of blacks of the Brazilian theater scene and television or their marginality is a reality that marks us. We protest!
The songs of the piece relate to traffic, turning the world, Calunga grande, to the navio negreiro (slave ship), to Africa in search of ancestry. In Rap, of Racionais MCs lyrics, music of blacks and marginals, the representation of the “slap in the face” of the racist society in the poetry of Clara Nunes the “kiss” of whoever seeks dialogue. But a warning to what goes on in the spectacular, “moreninha no!” NEGA (black woman)! And “não somos iguais” (we are not equal) (2), there are sheltered each specificity of each story. Preta-à-Porter is an affirmative theater!
If the Coletivo NEGA is small, it has a soul big theater. I call here the challenge to Santa Catarina Theater, which opens itself to doors of the big stage, the traditional houses of spectacular that one thing is clear, mediocre Preto-à-Porter is not. NEGA will not make ugliness and the public will give a standing ovation in one chorus, of encore. From BRAVO! Teatro Álvaro de Carvalho (TAC or Álvaro de Carvalho Theater ), the Centro Integrado de Cultura (CIC or Integrated Center of Culture ) – CIC expects you Coletivo NEGA, as well as on one night in May 1945, TEN of Abdias do Nascimento made its debut in the Theatro Municipal of Rio de Janeiro.
- SESC (Serviço Social do Comércio or Social Service of Commerce) is a private, non-profit Brazilian institution, maintained by business people of trade, goods, services and tourism, with operations on the national level, geared primarily to the social welfare of employees and their families but open to the wider community. It operates in the areas of Education, Health, Leisure, Culture and Welfare.
- A clear reference and response to the typical Brazilian response to racism that says “we are all equal”.