Note from BW of Brazil: Rewinding the clock one year we find an interesting theater piece put on by a very progressive black group known as Os Crespos. The term “os crespos”, which could be loosely translated as “the nappy heads”, and the group has been performing for a number of years taking on a number topics in which the experience of blackness in Brazil is a consistent theme. According to the group’s site, Os Crespos “is a theatrical collective of scenic and audio-visual research, debates and public interventions, composed of black actors. Trained in the Escola de Arte Dramática EAD/ECA/USP (University of São Paulo), they have been active since 2005. The group constructs its poetic discourse from research on the situation of black Brazilians in contemporary society and its historical consequences.”
Although I’ve seen the group perform live, I am also impressed with a number of their videos available online. In the following videos, (yes, in Portuguese), feel their intensity! In the first video, the phrase “pede desculpas” means, “say you’re sorry!” In the second video, the group speaks on a number of themes common Afro-Brazilian activists such the genocidal murders of black youth and a discourse made famous iconic activist Malcolm X: “Who is it that made you hate your hair/nose/skin color?” The third video is an interesting interpolation and re-reading of the racist 1915 American silent film Birth of a Nation.
Os Crespos – Desculpa
Os Crespos – 2ª Intervenção – IRA
NEGO TUDO (2011)
After watching these videos and those featured below the article, as well as productions by other black theater groups (here and here for example), one will certainly understand that Brazil doesn’t lack talented black actors, directors and writers. Brazil’s problem (agenda?) is it’s rejection of the Afro-Brazilian population. (Note: The piece featured in the article below actually debuted one year ago today, the Day of Black Consciousness 2013)
Theater piece, Engravidei, pari cavalos e aprendi a voar sem asas debuts
By Guilherme Derrico
On stage, the lives of six black women are caught in their daily lives in an apartment building. They don’t converse, they don’t even know each other. But the questions that come out in their testimonies are common among them: affection, family, marriage, sex, loneliness, beauty and equality. Private discourse made public. Engravidei, pari cavalos e aprendi a voar sem asas, meaning, “I got pregnant, gave birth to horses and learned to fly without wings” (1), is the newest show Os Crespos, a theater collective of São Paulo. The show debuts on November 20, the Day of Black Consciousness.
Considering issues such as relations with the body, psychological trauma, male violence, sex, survival and social assessment, the show is based on testimonials and real experiences of 55 black women surveyed this year by the Collective. The testimonies were given by women from different social classes and professions: women of the prison system, housewives, sambistas (samba musicians), followers of religions of African origin, entrepreneurs, community leaders and prostitutes, among others.
The plot proposes to give voice and revise stereotypes about black women, constructing a new relation of otherness and appreciation. Each of the six characters of the show captures at least five of the stories told by the interviewees in an attempt to show the variety that it involves. “We seek to expose the personalities of women in the various elements involving the show, not only in their own characters, but in the soundtrack, costumes, set design, videos and even in vibrant colors,” explains Lucélia Sérgio, director of the play, which included the co-direction of Santiago Kuanza and production direction of Eneida de Souza.
One of the charms of the play is the stage design proposed by Mayara Mascarenhas, involving public spaces surrounding the theater as a beauty salon, and a pub. The public will enter into an apartment, to know the truth of the characters. In the cast are Dani Rocha, Darília Lilbé, Dirce Thomaz, Maria Dirce Couto, Nádia Bittencourt and Dani Nega.
[Teaser] “Engravidei, Pari Cavalos e Aprendi a Voar Sem Asas”
Scenes from “Engravidei, Pari Cavalos e Aprendi a Voar Sem Asas”
Source: Guilherme Derrico
1. Obviously, the title doesn’t refer to someone literally giving birth to a horse, but it is rather an expression to define a difficult childbirth.