By Lance S. Belville
February 15, 2010

You don’t have to have Ethel Merman belting, There’s No Business Like Show Business” in your ear to be struck by the magic that can happen when you walk into a live theatre for a performance by small “actors.” They can pack a potent punch. Rio’s first Festival of Animation Theatre packed theaters full of wallops all last week. Animation theatre means, actually, puppet theatre.

Rio’s world-class PeQuod Animation Theatre hosted the proceedings that included two companies from Porto Alegre and visiting puppet troops from Argentina/Chile, Holland and Portugal.

The puppets came in many shapes, sizes and forms from highly articulated puppets manipulated by three and even four actors to tiny glove puppets the size of a child’s sock.

The most complex and interesting work was that presented by Rio’s PeQuod, the host company. Their play, THE ARRIVAL OF LAMPIO IN HELL, traced the last days of the Brazilian bandit and folk hero, Lampião, his ambush by federal “macacos”, and inevitable descent into hell, mostly seen through the eyes of a less-than-enthusiastic recruit to the band of leather-lidded cutthroats. This play may well be touring around Brazil in coming months to a theatre near you and so bears some further description.

LAMPIO may be no kids’ puppet piece, as some of the other work on display is not either, though much of it is suitable for the wee ones. LAMPIO is a highly complex theatre extravaganza actually exploding on stage in the hands of five highly talented actor/puppeteers and the off-stage voice barrel baritone of the great Brazilian actor, Othon Bastos. The central design concept is that the characters in the play are actually large-sized clay-appearing figures based on the work of the Nordestino clay master, Vitalino.

The several dozen puppets in the cast, though appearing as very large clay reproductions of Vitalino figurines, are actually made of rubber and plastics and have a number of different articulation systems within. Some can actually walk forward propelled by only one puppeteer. Some can bend, twist and sit; others have articulated arms as well as legs. The effect is the clay of Vitalino comes to vibrant, and often violent, life.

The flesh and blood actors manipulating the “clay” actors are dressed as Nordestino peasants of about 1938, the year Lampião was gunned down in a hail of federal lead without returning fire. They cry and emote the voices and breath and anxieties of the figures in their hands in such a way that the actors live and actors “clay’ become as one.

The opening has the live cast laboring in a smoky furnace room, pounding and kneading the clay. The door of their furnace flings open and they begin to carefully remove the newly fired “clay” actors. It is a striking premonition of the Hell which awaits Lampião within the hour.

Once the “clay” Lampião is killed and lands in hell, in a dizzyingly dynamic trop du teatre the play now moves in an entirely unexpected direction. I won’t spoil it by describing it.

The visual direction of PeQuod founder Miguel Vellinho is nothing short of a master work and his script, along with Mario Piragibe, much of it based on news reports of the time is at turns satirical, lyrical and chillingly violent. This one may not be for the kids.

Two very different but equally enchanting Brazilian companies, both from Porto Alegre, represented the Gaucho theatre of animation.

COMPANHIA TEATRO LUMBRA is a shadow puppet company growing out of the Indonesian tradition but working with distinctly Brazilian themes. In SACY PERER-A LENDA DA MEIA NOTIE, two shadow puppeteers race us through a breathtaking trip based on Monteiro Lobato’s tiny terror tale.

The second team of Porto Alegre puppeteers, COMPANHIA GENTE FALANE, showed a 4-minute pocket masterpiece called CIRCO MINIMAL. They present their work in a tiny tent where five or six spectators crowd in, sit and watch a pint-sized puppet extravaganza taking place literally inches from their noses. Like PeQuod’s work, this is a one-of-a-kind theatre experience!

The Argentina/Chile entry, EL CHONCHN TEATRO DE MUECOS, featured two pieces acted by diminutive glove puppets. OS BUFOS DE MATIN pays clever homage to the great comics of the silent era. And then, in JUAN ROMEO & JULIETA MARIA, the Porteo pranksters give the Bard from Stratford on Avon a run for his money. Along the way they find time to kid Rio foibles and Brazilian politics. And the sex scene where Romeo and Julieta get it on for the first time is probably worth the entire price of admission. But it may merit the Shakespearian send-up an R rating. On second thought, it might be a way to introduce the wee ones to the deliciousness and duties of marriage.

The Portuguese company, CENTRO DRAMATICO DE VORA, arrived with BONECOS DE SANTO ALEIXO, a collection of biblical tales that, according to some spectators, probably belong in a church basement somewhere (see header image).

The most baffling entrant in MITA was the Dutch entry, DIRK, from Amsterdam’s ELECTRIC CIRCUS. It consisted of a silent man dressed as a homeless person pushing his shopping cart through various parts of Rio. I couldn’t understand the point of this one, nor could anyone I talked to who had also seen him. But the naughty Argentine puppets had great fun with this one in both their show. Twice they improvised their joy at finding Brazil so wealthy it could now import its homeless people from developed countries in Europe. Ouch, that hurt! Back to the drawing boars for DIRK.

Brazil has a long and happy association with puppet theatre, now christened “Animation Theatre,” by the people who produce it. It is far from kid stuff and probably worth a visit the next time some of it shows up in your town. Big kicks await your from these small actors.

Previous articles by Lance:

They’ve Got An Awful Lot of Coffee In Brazil – And It’s Going Fair Trade!
Brazil: Then And Now Rondonia
Brazil: Nova Jerusalem’s Passion Play
Brazil: Up a Piece of Mountain to See a Batch of Theatre
Brazil: Mossoró’s Biggest Play on Earth Heads for Guinness Book of World Records
Brazil: House of Sand Impresses at San Francisco International Film Festival
Brazil: Lower City Helps Kick Off San Francisco International Film Festival
Brazil’s Kayapó Tribe
San Francisco International Film Festival: ALMOST BROTHERS Adds More Fans To Its List of International Devotees
San Francisco International Film Festival: Nelson Friere Documentary Enchants Audiences
San Francisco International Film Festival: Three Brazilian Films

By Alison McGowan
February 15, 2010

Pousada Beijo do Vento came highly recommended and we were not disappointed once we upgraded to the panoramic rooms, which are airy and spacious and have verandas, hammocks and fabulous views. Perched on a cliff just at the end of the Rua Mucuge – the main street in Ajuda – Beijo do Vento has the twin advantages of being calm and peaceful, whilst still being close to all the bars and nightlife in Ajuda. When we came, low season, there were very few guests so we practically had the whole pousada to ourselves. Chilling around the pool with a good book and a caipirinha in hand, all you have in front of you is the endless sea. Wonderful!

About the Location
Arraial d’Ajuda was just a sleepy Indian fishing village called Santo Amaro when it was discovered by the Portuguese in the early 1500s. And it probably would have stayed that way had it not been for the discovery of a statue and rumours of miracles, which encouraged countless pilgrimages. These days a different sort of tourist, attracted more by the bars and boutiques and clubbing, has discovered Ajuda. However, off-season, the town reverts back to its normal sleepy state and at night there is more gentle sort of live music to listen to over dinner.

Not to Be Missed
– Pitinga beach- fabulous pink cliffs and great seafood in the beach bars
– Barbara Bela restaurant for a moqueca (fish stew)
– Igreja d’Ajuda (the main church)

Starpoints
* location- quiet but walking distance from the village
* fabulous views over the sea
* restaurants and nightlife close by

Try a Different Place if…
…you want super hidden”, or you have difficulty walking.

Alison is a British writer, musician, and marketing consultant, based in Rio de Janeiro. She can be contacted on alison@hiddenpousadasbrazil.com. Visit her site at http://www.hiddenpousadasbrazil.com/.

Previous articles by Alison:

Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Artjungle Eco Lodge & Spa, Itacare, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada 0031, Cumbuco, Cear
Brazil: Maguire’s Guesthouse, Manaus, Amazonas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Hotel Casa do Amarelindo, Salvador, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Hotel BeloAlter, Alter do Chão, Par
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Fazenda Santa Marina, Santana dos Montes, Minas Gerais
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Casarão da Amaznia, Soure, Ilha de Marajo, Par
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Casa Mila, nr. Ubatuba, São Paulo
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Casa Beleza, Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Bambu Bamboo Pousada and Spa, Parati, Rio de Janeiro
Random Ramblings on the Weather in Brazil
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Beijamar, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Hotel 7 Colinas, Pernambuco
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada dos Quatro Cantos, Pernambuco
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Estrela do Mar, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Vivenda, Rio de Janeiro
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada da Terra, Minas Gerais
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada Mirante de Pipa, Rio Grande do Norte
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada do Caju, Alagoas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Pousada da Amendoeira, Alagoas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Estalagem Caiuia, Alagoas
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Lagoa do Cassange, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Ponta do Muta, Bahia
Brazil: Hidden Pousadas – Santa Clara, Boipeba, Bahia

February 15, 2010

Meet Angus Graham who has lived in Brazil for almost 4 years, and works as an English teacher. Read the following interview in which he tells us about some of his most memorable experiences and gives some useful advice to newcomers.

1. Tell us a little about yourself, where are you from, what do you do etc.?

Originally from England, I now live in São Caetano do Sul, from where I am a Professor De Ingls. In the UK, I worked in Customer services. Perhaps the two are similar.

2. When did you arrive in Brazil and what brought you here?

In December 2005, I came here for a month, to meet my then internet girlfriend and her family. Got engaged within the week, stayed for Christmas, returned to the UK. I finally came back to Brazil in April of 2006, got married in May of 2006 and stayed, I have no desire to return to England.

3. What were you first impressions of Brazil?

São Paulo is colossal when one sees it from the air, coming in to Guaralhos. Difficult to determine where the city starts and ends (I came from the middle of the South Devon countryside). Most striking was the friendliness of the people. I went to a stranger’s home, and within half an hour I was made to feel like a part of the family. Brits tend to be a lot colder and more suspicious of strangers”. Using English money, Brazil felt very cheap.

4. What do you miss most about home?

The family, it has to be said. And more specifically, I have yet to find a store that sells Marmite or Tesco Honey Nut Cornflakes and proper English tea, also the fact that electronics over there are generally a lot cheaper. To be honest, after you are here for a while, you don’t miss anything very much.

5. What has been your most frustrating experience in Brazil?

Hehehehe. Policia Federal and having to wait for a year and a half for my RNE. After a while I gave up going to Lapa every 3 months! Impatient car drivers can be tiresome too.

6. What has been your most memorable experience in Brazil (specific incident)?

Getting my RNE, eventually, and, more importantly, getting married. Working as a Customer Services person for a major international company in São Bernardo Do Campo, and later working as a teacher inside the same company. Waiting for my first baby in September 2010.

7. What do you most like about Brazil (in general)?

Weather, people, cost of living, the beach.

8. What is your favorite restaurant/place to hang out here?

Ragazzo, in SCS, and Edificio Italia in SP.

9. Do you have any funny stories/incidents to tell about your time in Brazil?

Only in Brazil… can you see a half naked man skateboarding on the wrong side of the road, at eleven at night, with a police car going past, without any lights on it. Not even “parking lights”. When I first came here, I went to our local Ciretran and regularized my British driving licence, giving them a translation and getting a police stamp on the back of it. Works a treat when I get stopped in the odd blitz!

10. What difference between your homeland and Brazil do you find most striking?

Bureaucracy and red tape here is tiring at times, but the biggest difference is how genuinely friendly the people are – both with each other and with foreigners (in general). Perhaps another striking difference is the weather. On the whole, sunny and hot the majority of the time.

11. How is your Portuguese coming along? What words do you find most difficult to pronounce/remember or are there any words that you regularly confuse?

I learned Portuguese, just by living here – immersion, and watching television in Portuguese as well as listening to other Brazilians. Never took a course in Portuguese. I think that the most difficult might be the pronunciation of pão, and to this day I have a lot of difficulty with the differences between Vo, V, voar.

12. What advice do you have for newcomers to Brazil?

Brazilians are a “touchy, feely” race, it’s not at all uncommon for a complete stranger to give you a big hug. It takes a little getting used to at first, particularly if you are from England! It also helps if you have a smattering of Portuguese. The locals will love to try out their English on you, but knowing a few words in their language will be advantageous.

13. What are some things that you would recommend for a visitor to do in São Paulo (or anywhere else in Brazil)?

Enjoy this country and stay here for as long as you can. São Paulo is a huge city, but, with the help from a guide, you can get to see the best parts, particularly from the restaurant at the top of Edificio Italia. São Paulo has some excellent museums too. Oh, and the underground train network is gradually improving beyond belief.

You can contact Angus via professor.angus@gmail.com.

Are you a foreigner who has lived in, or is living or travelling in Brazil? Are you a Brazilian who has a lot of contact with foreigners and/or lived outside of Brazil? Are you interested in telling your story? If you would like to volunteer for our interview series, or if you would like to recommend someone, please send a blank email to gringoes@www.gringoes.com with “Interview” in the subject. We will send you the interview questions by return email.

To read previous interviews in the Brazil Through Foreign Eyes series click below:

Anne Morddel – USA
Jessica Mullins – Switzerland
Evan Soroka – USA
Mary de Camargo – USA
Brendan Fryer – UK
Aaron Sundquist – USA
Jay Bauman – USA
Alan Williams – USA
Derek Booth – UK
Jim Shattuck – USA
Ruby Souza – Hawaii
Stephan Hughes – Trinidad and Tobago
Louis van der Wiele – Holland
Drew Glaser – USA
Barry Elliott – Canada
Joel Barsky – USA
David Drummond – Canada
Liam Porisse – France
Jim Kelley – USA
Max Ray – USA
Jeremy Clark – Canada
Don Fredrick – USA
Jase Ramsey – USA
Ben Pearce – UK
Nitai Panchmatia – India
Johnnie Kashat – USA
Jeni Bonorino – USA
Eric Jones – USA
Bill Martin – UK
Bernard Morris – USA
John Graves – USA
Deepak Sapra – India
Alison McGowan – UK
Brent Gregory – USA
R Dub – USA
Tara Bianca – USA
Jack Hurley – USA
James Woodward – Canada
Tony O’Sullivan – Ireland
Anna Belavina – Russia
Jim Kirby – USA
Linda Halverstadt – USA
Michelle Monteiro – USA
Chris Mensah – UK
David Sundin – USA
Stephanie Glennon – USA
Julien Porisse – France
Hans Keeling – USA
Jim Adams – USA
Richard Murison – USA
Will Periam – UK
Jan Sandbert – Sweden
Jim Jones – USA
Mike Stricklin – USA
Edward Gowing – Australia
Adrian Woods – USA
Kevin Raub – USA
Pierpaolo Ciarcianelli – Italy
Zachary Heilman – USA
David Johnson – Bermuda
Cipriana Leme – Argentina
Timothy Bell – USA
Patti Beckert – USA
Timothy Bell – USA
Paul James – USA
David McLoughlin – Ireland
Pat Moraes – USA
Richard Dougherty – USA
James Weeds – USA
Tom Sluberski – USA
Peter Kefalas – USA
Sylvie Campbell – UK
Kathleen Haynes – USA
Matt Bowlby – USA
Alan Longbottom – UK
Eric Karukin – USA
Eddie Soto – USA
Kieran Gartlan – Ireland
Bryan Thomas Scmidt – USA
Emile Myburgh – South Africa
Bob Chapman – USA
David Barnes – USA
John Milan – USA
Chris Coates – UK
Matthew Ward – UK
Allison Glick – USA
Drake Smith – USA
Jim Jones – USA
Philip Wigan – UK
Atlanta Foresyth – USA
Lee Gordon – USA
Carmen Naidoo – South Africa
Lee Safian – USA
Laurie Carneiro – USA
Dana De Lise – USA
Richard Gant – USA
Robin Hoffman – USA
Wayne Wright – UK
Walt Kirspel – USA
Priya Guyadeen – Guyana
Caitlin McQuilling – USA
Nicole Rombach – Holland
Steven Engler – Canada
Richard Conti – USA
Zak Burkons – USA
Ann White – USA
Monde Ngqumeya – South Africa
Johnny Sweeney – USA
David Harty – Canada
Bill McCrossen – USA
Peter Berner – Switzerland/Brazil
Ethan Munson – USA
Solveig Skadhauge – Denmark
Sean McGown – USA
Condrad Downes – UK
Jennifer Silva – Australian
Justin Mounts – USA
Elliott Zussman – USA
Jonathan Abernathy – USA
Steve Koenig – USA
Kyron Gibbs – USA
Stephanie Early – USA
Martin Raw – UK
Sean Coady – UK
Hugo Delgado – Mexico
Sean Terrillon – Canada
Jessie Simon – USA
Michael Meehan – USA
Thales Panagides – Cyprus
Tammy Montagna – USA
Samantha Tennant – England
Ron Finely – United States
Bob Duprez – United States
Peter Baines – England
Youssef Bouguerra – Tunisia
Van Wallach – USA
Lesley Cushing – England
Alexander von Brincken – Germany
Hank Avellar – USA
Ed Catchpole – England
Penny Freeland – England
Yasemin de Pinto – Turkey
Amy Williams Lima – USA
John Naumann – England
Marsye Schouella – Eygpt
Rita Shannon Koeser – USA
John Fitzpatrick – Scotland
Liam Gallagher – Northern Ireland
Lorelei Jones – England
Adam Glensy – England
Tommie C.B. DeAssis – Japan
Aaron Day – Canada
Graham Debney – New Zealand
Silke Tina Tischendorf – Germany
Tanya Keshavjee Macedo – Canada
Frank de Meijer – Holland
Carl Emberson – Australia
Kim Buarque – Wales
Damiano Pak – South Korea
Jonas Helding – Denmark
Pari Seeber – Iran
John Milton – England
Ken Marshall – Australia

By Regina Scharf
February 15, 2010

Caipirinha – a mix of sugar cane spirit (cachaa), crushed lime, white sugar and ice – is a big hit among foreigners that visit Brazil. It is pretty much everywhere in the country and many Brazilian families own the special wooden mortar used to prepare the beverage. Caipirinha and its variations, such as caipiroska (with vodka) or saquerinha (with sake), are just a tiny sample of popular Brazilian drinks.

Follow me in the discovery of other national specialties. Most of them carry cachaa (also known as pinga, aguardente de cana, caninha or a brava”/”the nasty one”):

1. Batidas – This mix of cachaa, fruit, ice and lots of sugar is a favorite in the kiosks that line the Brazilian coast. You name the fruit – maracuj (passion fruit), coco (coconut), morango (strawberry). In fact, caipirinha is just one more type of batida.

2. Meia de Seda (probably named after pantyhose because it is a girlie drink) – Those with a really sweet tooth can try this mix of 1/3 of gin, 1/3 cacao liqueur (made with the fruit, not cocoa), 1 spoon of sugar and cinnamon (some recipes abolish the gin or substitute it with rum). Sort of old-fashioned, a souvenir of the golden fifties.

3. Alu – There are several recipes for this drink popular in the Northeast states (Bahia, Cear and Pernambuco, among others), that may or not be alcoholic. You mix the peel from one pineapple, two liters of water, brown sugar, cloves and grated ginger. The skin of the pineapple should be kept in water for a whole night to ferment. The longer it remains in water, the more alcoholic the beverage. This water is strained and mixed with the other ingredients.

4. Cachaa Pura – Cachaa, the Brazilian equivalent of rum, is made of the fermented sugarcane juice. There are probably a few thousand brands, some extremely refined, some too bad to be mentioned. A here you will find a large list of Brazilian cachaas, including their origins and alcoholic degrees.

5. DeepBrazil.com.

Regina Scharf is a Brazilian journalist and Environmental specialist living in New Mexico.

Previous articles by Regina:

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By Patti Beckert
February 15, 2009

Brazilians of all ages love candy, any kind of candy. If it is loaded with sugar, they will eat it. Just like in the United States, chocolate is the preferred candy, and there are three companies that offer up the majority of candies in Brazil, Lacta, Garrota, and Nestle, S.A.

The bon bons that you get in a box of assorted chocolates are also different than those you get in America. They come in fancy, colorful wrappers and are larger pieces. Some of the most popular kinds contain ingredients such as hazelnut crme, coconut, and cashews.

When we had our caf on the beach, we had the end of our counter encased in glass and within that glass were built several cubby holes, all filled to the brim with individual candies–hard candies, bubble gum, lollipops, and miniature candy bars. Brazilians rarely will be seen with a full-size candy bar in hand, but you’ll find most kids (who can afford it) with pockets full of little candies to eat while playing soccer and to share (or sell to) friends.

And I believe I mentioned it before, but we served ice cream in our caf, and every person who walked out with a cone or a cup of ice cream had some kind of candy placed on top. The most popular topping was gummy dentures. Weirdest thing I ever saw, but they loved them. I did too, as a matter of fact, as they were strawberry-flavored.

Even cough drops, such as Halls Eucalyptus, Strawberry, Mint and Cherry flavors were eaten as candy and breath mints, but never as a cough suppressant.

Yes, candy for the Brazilian is almost as important as food.

Patti Beckert is originally from Florida, USA and married to a Brazilian, who is originally from Joinville, Santa Catarina, Brazil. A freelance writer, she presently resides near Austin, TX, but has lived in Southern Brazil and maintains a blog about her experiences at 0 Comments/by

Following up on our very successful meet up www.omalleysbar.net

When: Feb. 18 (Thursday) from 8p.m.
Cost: Entrance free. You pay what you consume.
Confirmation: Please confirm presence by email to gringoes@www.gringoes.com and check 0 Comments/by