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  • Photo du rédacteurEric Robert Noble

The splendor of the Teatro Oficina

São Paulo’s downtown, Thursday night, here am I walking down the Brigadeiro Antonio avenue on my way to the bus station.

Thousands of workers are doing the same, hand on their workers cellphones, absorbed by their workers consumers routines, attempting to reach their workers beds, after hours of workers transports after crossing the noisy dirty inhospitable street, where the workers buses are spiting nonstop blacky and stinky smokes on the workers.

I don’t want to stay there one more minute. I feel exhausted tonight, the air is heavy and my head too. I spent my day between administrative stuff, an online

appointment with an online doctor, incomplete tasks and several unresolved problems.

I take a breath. Let’s seat on this broken bench. A police car is passing right through the way and almost knock over an old drunk woman, babbling in the middle of the street. She seems to be homeless. She comes to me… trashes, all trashes… she says. Her green eyes are shiny and wide opened.

Then the rhythm of a drum emerges from the chaotic and violent industrial daily music. A scream…Uzona! UZONA!!! After a while, as if in a trance, having a look behind me and above my shoulder, she screams one more time… UZONA! And walks away on a laugh that makes me have chills.

The sound of the drums is raising and echoing on the concrete walls of the decadent building around. What was she looking at? What is “Uzona”? I turn around to have a look behind me. Down there, at the other side of the bridge, an intense light is coming out of a quite common facade’s door.

Right in front of it, in the middle of the sidewalk, heading for the inside, a glorious naked man with a ox mask on his face and an bow in his right hand, is standing and dancing with the captivating drums. What the hell is that? I ask myself. Let’s have a look on it. This is too strange. “Uzona”, she said. I stand up and go there.

Years after this night, the memory of this magic moment I lived – totally by chance - the Teatro Oficina is still intense and warm. Naturally I came back a couple of times to see the entire play that was staged there and others The Bacchantes, from Euripides, Roda viva, from Chico Buarque, O Rei da Vela, from Oswald de Andrade, Os Sertões, from Euclides da Cunha, taking a fancy to enter the magnificent space, a beautiful flower surrounded by a parking and a skyscraper, and projected by the Italian architect Lina Bo Bardi in 1991, surely one of most beautiful theaters in the world. Like an island. Or a boat in the middle of a storm.

I discovered that the Teatro Oficina, built sixty years in 2022, with his long life resisting against the military regime ‘censorship, was an historical object too. I understood the new languages of José Celso Martinez Correa, “Zé Celso”, breaking up with the mediocrity of middle-class speeches and topics. Languages of poetry, freedom and resistance.

There, I saw the living representation of the Tropicalist movement and the intense happiness in it, linking modernist issues as the 1922’ Oswald de Andrade Cannibalist Manifesto

and the tropicalist creations like the 60’ Glauber Rocha’s films, when the whole world was in trance, close to a cultural and social revolution, later totally repressed by counter-revolution, a military coup, and afterwards by the progressive establishment of a neocolonialist globalizing model.

The Teatro Oficina’s tropicalism is the decolonization culture, a culture that releases the vital strength of this beautiful country and his people, from indigenous cosmologies to street hip hop culture,

from regional culture, legends, musics to the Sem Terra (landless) movement action, but under the protection of Dionysus, god of the fertility, festivity, madness and theater. Antropofagical first.

This universe took me by the hand and made me know one of the beauties of this world, a shiny jewel which is not made of stone, but of sweat and blood, music and colors, myths and novelties, contemplation and struggles, rational and trances.

Growing and resisting right in the middle of our collapsing times and systems, the 60 years old Teatro Oficina is our everyone’s beating heart. By his Dionysiac theater, his founder and director Zé Celso helps us to heal our hurts and prepare the paths for the reconstructions of tomorrow, with the Gods and the goddesses, for sure. EVOÉ!

Teatro Oficina

Rua Jaceguai, 520 - Bela Vista, São Paulo BRAZIL

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