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Volume 52 / Humanities

LITERATURE: BRAZIL


Drama

JUDITH ISHMAEL BISSETT, Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio

POLITICAL PROTEST AND THE ILLUSTRATION of contemporary social and political problems through the dramatization of historical events are still evident in Brazilian drama. Yet, as the theater confronts changes in society and the institutions which controlled and repressed theatrical production for two decades, playwrights are reaching beyond politics in their search for a coherent dramatic voice. According to Yan Michalski in a speech on Brazilian theater (item bi 89010686), many writers find expression in a return to memories of childhood or adolescence. In "From Abertura to Nova Repúbilca: Politics and the Brazilian Theater of the Late Seventies and Eighties" (item bi 90003536), Severino João Albuquerque notes the same trend, but adds another - dramatic adaptations of other literary genres.

Alarme geral by Zaza Sampaio (item bi 89010707) is an example of the continuing presence of committed drama on the Brazilian stage. This play, banned during 1979-82, portrays the relationship between jailer and prisoner as the two characters discuss the meaning of freedom. Like playwrights Augusto Boal and Chico Buarque de Holanda, Luis Alberto de Abreu employs history to examine the problem of the economic and political invasion of Brazil by foreign powers in Xica da Silva (item bi 89010683). Here, after Xica's Portuguese lover leaves, she must deal with the consequences of her actions. In an effort to gain power and social acceptance through her association with Fernandes, Xica cruelly represses her own people.

Although Mário Prata's Besame mucho (item bi 89010679) does not deal precisely with childhood memories, it does represent a journey back in time. The characters explore relationships which began in the 1960s and continued through the 1980s. In A volta do marido pródigo (item bi 89010675), Paulo Hecker Filho, in collaboration with the author, dramatizes a short story by Guimarães Rosa. Like the " Grupo Macunaíma" and others mentioned by Severino Albuquerque, Hecker Filho sought dramatic expression through the adaptation of another literary form.

Recent critical studies examine Brazilian playwrights and theater groups as both artists and significant elements in the development of national theatrical history. The two works on José de Alencar (items bi 89010695 and bi 89010699) come to similar conclusions, but the latter takes a more theoretical approach. Sábato Magaldi's study of Nelson Rodrigues (item bi 89010687) provides the reader with an excellent analysis of the playwrights's work as well as an evaluation of his contributions to the theater. Teatro Arena is the focus of Margo Milleret's "Acting into Action: Teatro Arena's Zumbi"(item bi 89015148) and Claudia de Arruda Campos' Zumbi/Tiradentes e outras histórias contadas pelo Teatro de Arena de São Paulo (item bi 89010685). While Milleret concentrates on Zumbi, Arruda Campos does a more extensive study of the theater. Both examine Teatro Arena's significance as an innovator as well as its relationship with Brazilian society and the audience.

Brecht no Brasil: experiências e influências (item bi 89010677) also looks at Brazilian theater from an historical point of view. The majority of these papers by important critics and playwrights were read at a symposium held in Brazil during Aug. 1986.

Brazilian theater, now in a period of transition and, in many cases, self-evaluation, continues to seek new forms of expression. As Severino Albuquerque affirms, both young and old playwrights will transform the structure of theater in Brazil.


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