Brazil brings Voltaire to Camden Fringe

***N.B. Due to unforseen circumstances this production will no longer be performed***

The Brazilian company Teatro da Curva (Turnabout Theatre) is appearing this year at The Camden Fringe festival, an event which brings together experimental theatre, shows, music, stand-up, dance, comedy and magic, along the lines of the Edinburgh Festival.

The streets and theatres of Camden will hold host to some 207 performances including Candide, an adaptation of Voltaire’s text, created by the founder of the Brazilian theatre group, Ralph Maizza. The work tells the story of the life of a young man who, despite the most catastrophic situations, believes that the world is as good as it can possibly be. The audience is made to consider their attitude and values faced with situations that life throws up in a re-evaluation of the age old question the meaning of life. The work has proven a success in São Paulo since 2008, a success which the theatre company aims to maintain at Camden’s Fringe festival. Maizza reveals some of the day to day behind the scenes activities of this group in the interview below.

How did the group come about?
The company emerged in 2002 out of meetings among 4 colleagues viciously eager to start making professional work of high quality. The ideas were developed within the chaotic Sao Paulo, which certainly helped to shape the company’s artistic identity. We were interested in
developing work that would give prominence to a kind of urban aesthetic into our shows. The lack of funding, however, drove us to put our aspirations in the work of the actor and the simplicity of actions. Our first work in 2003, called “A bola da Vez” was more like an exercise, written and directed by the group, with the scenery created by the group out of beer bottles and handmade footlights.

How many people are in the cast? Are they all Brasilian?
The cast is made up of 8 actors, 6 men and 2 women and they are all Brazilian. In London we will perform with an additional Brazilian actress who will narrate the play in English.

Is it the first time the group has come to London?
It is indeed the first time Teatro da Curva has taken its work abroad. It will be a fascinating experience to present it in London. We also intend to take it on tour to South America this year, probably to Chile. The text is universal and has the power to engage everyone.

We play a significant role within Sao Paulo’s theatrical scene and this year Candide has also been performed in Parana in the south of Brazil, and that was sensational. The show has been performed to a full house since 2008. We also put together another classic from Alvares de Azevedo, “Noite na Taverna”, which was well received in São Paulo. He lived in the 19th century and was influenced by the likes of Byron and Edgar Allan Poe. The classics have inspired curiosity in the group but we also develop work from contemporary authors.

What does it mean to the theatre company to participate in the Camden Fringe?
Definitely the possibility to expand our work and to feel the reception of an audience from a different culture in a different place. It will be a great experience for us and hopefully for the festival too!

What should the public expect from the performance?
Great acting! The actors rely on their voice and actions without any source of scenery or high-tech equipment to help them out. It is, I would say, a rustic work with regards to the direction as much as to the interpretation, and this is the great value of the show.

What innovation can be found in this re-reading of Voltaire’s work?
To be fair, is a very faithful adaptation. I tried to use all the elements possible so as not to make us lose the essence of the story. The essence, the meaning and Voltaire’s provocations are all there; we didn’t miss out any of his ideas.

What will the symbiotic interplay between English and Portuguese be like? At what moments will the group express themselves in Portuguese and how will they communicate with the audience?
The communication of this show is visual. Theatre is visual. One can understand a lot from the ‘mambembe’ interpretation of the actors even if they are speaking Portuguese. There are many actions that are completely universal. However, we also have a Brasilian actress in the cast who’s lived in London for several years to narrate, and this will be in English. Some scenes will also have subtitles, which mean that an English speaking audience won’t lose any of the meaning. Regardless of the language, as I said before, everyone will understand the essence of the story.

By Francilene Oliveira

August 18th-21st
7.30pm, £7.50
Camden People’s Theatre, 58-60 Hampstead Rd – NW1 08444 77 1000

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