Academic journal article Australasian Drama Studies

Training Actions to Convey Theatrical Emotions: An Interview with Brazilian Director Maria Thais

Academic journal article Australasian Drama Studies

Training Actions to Convey Theatrical Emotions: An Interview with Brazilian Director Maria Thais

Article excerpt

If theatrical emotions are a fabrication of a group of people - writers, directors and actors - operating in a specific culture, the psycho-physical exercises and concepts adopted in actor training processes frequently come from different cultural contexts. For instance, the training approaches of theatre courses in Brazilian universities and professional courses are often composed of variations on the Russian Stanislavsky System, French Jacques Lecoq's Neutral Mask and Etienne Decroux's Corporeal Mime, and American Viola Spolin's Improvisational Exercises, just to mention a few. A wide variety of theatre groups concerned with experiments in actor training also select a number of psycho-physical techniques developed elsewhere. Thus a Brazilian actor, while she or he may never have studied abroad, often shapes the delivery of emotions according to methods developed in Europe or North America. These cross-cultural phenomena have become naturalised as theatre practitioners (mainly researchers working in tertiary institutions) tend to undertake part of their professional study/training abroad.

The work of Brazilian theatre director Maria Thais' might be considered an example of this cross-cultural exchange. As a researcher2 investigating the work of Russian director Vsevolod Meyerhold, she studied staging techniques and an actor training approach that are culturally specific and relocated to Brazil. Maria Thais is one of a group of Brazilian directors who combine their work at universities as lecturers and researchers, with successful and innovative theatrical productions. She is the artistic director of the Cia Teatro Balagan (Balagan Theatre Company). The company started in 1995 as a study group based on principles of stage movement drawn from Meyerhold's Biomechanics, and in the following decade developed research in actor training that combined elements from a wide range of physical practices and cultural traditions. The recent award-winning productions Sacromaquia (2000), Tauromaquia (2004)3 and The Beast on the Moon (2002, from the play by Richard Kalinoski) reflect the intensity of Balagan's approach.

In this interview Maria Thais reflects on her mestizo identity and cultural miscegenation in Brazil, the appropriation of European techniques and exercises in the training of Brazilian actors, the idea of performing actions to represent emotions on the stage, and representations of the feminine and the masculine in her productions.

MIRANDA: Maria Thais, you are a Brazilian theatre director who, in your education, had contact with actor training methods that come from different socio-cultural contexts. In dance you developed systematic studies in Modem and Afro-Brazilian dance, Capoeira and Flamenco, and in actor training you had contact with the Neutral Mask, Commedia DeU'Arte, and beyond this with the training method of Tadashi Suzuki and the actor training of the Odin Teatret, among others. How do these intercultural experiences redefine your own body (and your cultural identity)? And also, as somebody who prepares actors, how do you organise this knowledge mat is already structured according to specific pedagogies (such as the ritual of putting on the Neutral Mask, or the learning of the Biomechanical etudes), making it subject to re-readings and adaptations according to your own corporeal experience?

MARIA THAIS: We should really divide the question into different parts. My upbringing has, at its foundation, an aspect of intercultural identity that precedes my development and experience with theatre. And it is only today, after nearly thirty years of life in the theatre, that I can formulate a discourse about it. My body, my identity is mestizo! in its origin, it reflects the cultural diversity of our country, of our continent. I am the descendant of Indigenous peoples, Blacks and Portuguese Europeans (not Central Europeans). This is important. This is not only a genealogical symbol, and it was a determining factor in my upbringing. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.