lyric first, lyric hammersmith
Imagine a Brazilian Lewis Caroll on acid narrating an epic saga of a hero without morals…
Mario de Andrade wrote Macunaima, the hallmark of Brazilian literature, in the 1920's. Now Lyric favourites, Dende Collective (The Piranha Lounge, Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands and Agreste) return with a new stage adaptation.
a posh dinner party
the guests arrive - they are avant garde society - artists and followers of 1920s brazillian modernism
one is mario the writer of the novel “macunaima”
he begins to tell his new story and little by little it comes alive and is acted out by the guests. the ‘garcon’ plays macnunaima interspersed with decadent scenes of excess by the guests -eating frogs, orgies of sex, smearing each other with muddy looking food, patronising enactments of tribal dancing …
the performance is includes a mix of physical theatre and puppetryAt the end of the post show discussion an audience member suggests that all of this story is happening in the head of mario and that he was a very difficult man with quite a fractured personality and maybe the dinner party could be aspects of what he sees and thinks brought to life as the story of macunaima
the main problem with the show as we saw it is that there is nothing driving it. the group want to solve the apparently immensely difficult challenge of bringing this novel into a performance. but I think this alone will not make a compelling show – it needs to be energised and focused and arranged around a particular perspective / story / person they want us to see and connect with.
also worth noting – the first people we meet we connect with strongly as an audience and use them as our way in to the show. thus they need to either be our connection with the story or at least translate the introduction to the character(s) who will be. one of my biggest confusion and irritation came from firstly disliking the dinner hostess intensely ( as we were intended to) and then losing my link into the play as it progressed. the other candidate – the garcon – who was much easier to like – became lost to me once he became macunaima and I ceased to have any way to continue to elate to him.
Since July 2006 we have been developing our Macunaíma cycle through a series of workshops and various months of intensive research in different fields and with different collaborators. Our aim is to investigate how to adapt this iconic Brazilian Modernist novel from the 1920s to a contemporary context involving different artists, institutions and artforms, and how to feed directly from our educational work into our artistic process.
Mário de Andrade’s seminal 1928 novel Macunaíma- o herói sem nenhum caráter is Brazil's greatest 20th century epic and a touchstone of the Brazilian Modernist movement. It was adapted into a film by Joaquim Pedro de Andrade in 1969 and is seen as a satirical view on Brazilian society and morals.
We have been developing our Macunaíma cycle through a series of workshops and various months of intensive research in different fields and with different collaborators. The aim is to investigate how to adapt this iconic Brazilian Modernist novel from the 1920s to a contemporary context involving different artists, institutions and artforms, and how to feed directly from our educational work into our artistic process.
THE MACUNAÍMA CYCLE
August 2006: Outlining the Story. Festival Encuentros Latinoamericanos in Balham, South London
Three actors, One director and No props. We worked towards outlining this epic.
2- 7 April 2007 : Young People's Approach. Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park in Bracknell, Berkshire
Working with a group of young people aged 8 to 14 we presented The Adventures of Macunaíma through their perspectives on the epic, using different media, including digital animation and puppetry.
16 - 21 July 2007: Visuals: Puppetry. Incubate Season @The Little Angel Theatre in Islington, London
Our research continued, and it led us to working with puppetry through a collaboration with The Little Angel Theatre and the Brazilian visual artist Samuel Guimarães who flew from Brazil to work with us. We paired him with a British puppet maker, Andy Jones. They worked in transforming Guimarães' sculptures into puppets as a group of actors experimented with bringing them to life.
6 - 11 August 2007: Visuals: Digital Animation & Projections. South Hill Park in Bracknell, Berkshire.
Dende went high tech for the first time. We played with different ideas on how to use projections and digital animation to tell the story. At times we had five projectors working simultaneously!
8 December 2007: Writing and Sharing the Story. First Bites - Oval House, London
We bring together elements from the four previous R&D sessions and form a framework for future development.
The Next Stage... R&D6...
12, 13 and 14 June 2008 : Lyrics First - Lyric Hammersmith, London
We further develop the work and this time we are going to explore the historical context, the very exciting artists that under the banner of the Modernist movement revolucionised Brazilian Art forever. Why was Macunaíma writen and who really was the writer behind it?
André Pink, Dende's Artistic Director has created a site about THE MACUNAÍMA CYCLE. There you will find his personal blog and in-depth insight about how Dende makes work.
Macunaíma, a native Brazilian from the Amazon, was born black and fully-grown amongst his red-skinned people, becomes white and blond and finally black again; his transformations symbolising all the races that constitute the Brazilian people. We follow the misadventures of Macunaíma from miraculous birth to death, especially as he chases after his lost amulet, given to him by the queen of the Amazons before she became a star. He takes us on fantastic journeys through rivers, jungles, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, all Brazil. With him we encounter a shrewd Peruvian entrepreneur (who in reality is a cannibal giant), collect swear words, sail with the Sun and discover how the Moon was created. Through it all, our scoundrel-hero remains staunchly irreverent and immoral, leaving his conscience behind when he could, a true champion of hedonistic carnal pleasures. Mário de Andrade weaves native Brazilian tales, myths and folklore from different regions with his own imagination and elements from European avant-garde to produce a unique novel that had an influential impact in Brazilian culture (Tropicalismo, Caetano Veloso, Cinema Novo, Hélio Oiticica etc).
Mário de Andrade (1893-1945) was a Brazilian poet, novelist, musicologist, art historian and critic, and photographer. One of the founders of Brazilian modernism, he virtually created modern Brazilian poetry with the publication of Paulicéia Desvairada (Hallucinated City) in 1922. He has had an enormous influence on Brazilian literature in the 20th and 21st centuries, and as a scholar and essayist - he was a pioneer of the field of ethnomusicology - his influence has reached far beyond Brazil. After working as a music professor and newspaper columnist he published his great novel, Macunaíma, in 1928.