The second edition of Brazil Reads Brasil packed the Martin E. Segal Theatre last Monday, November 6th, in New York City. Called Female Voices From Brazil, the event celebrated the playwrights Ana Maria Gonçalves, Cidinha da Silva and Márcia Zanelatto.
The Brazilian actresses Bárbara Eliodorio, Isabella Pinheiro, Laila Garroni and Ma Troggian, founders of the collective, shared the stage with the renowned actress Vanessa Aspillaga. Vanessa starred in the Broadway original cast of Anna In The Tropics, written by Nilo Cruz and winner of the Pulitzer Prize 2003.
Directed by Tia James, the staged reading finished with a standing ovation, as well as a discussion moderated by the executive and artistic director of the Segal Theatre, Frank Hentschker. The writers had the opportunity to talk about their motivations behind the plays. “The motivation was to create black characters, that were psychologically complex and with depth. As we can usually see on television, the majority of the roles for black actors are secondary roles.We have tons of wonderful artists just waiting for the opportunity to show their work and this reading shows me that i am on the right track” said the writer of Diverse, Ana Maria Gonçalves.
The universality of the plays was one of the subjects brought up by the audience. "The themes addressed by the plays speak to many cultures. A man intimidated by the power and strength of a woman; the frustration with the public health; the pain of a couple that faces a terminal illness, are all universal themes." said the Venezuelan actress Maria Canas.
Some brazilians present in the audience also talked about how important it was to see their culture represented in a non-stereotyped way. “One of the things I was thinking about brazilian culture is the television; how it still dominates the popular brazilian culture through the telenovelas, and how it portrays people from different social classes and different races in a very stereotyped way. What makes me think of how honest these plays are and how they represent the opposite of what we constantly see in brazilian television”, said Patricia.