DAY 2 in RIO, continued…
Hey, here’s a pic of that aquaduct that the cable carcrosses over… you can see the mosaics of Selarón at the base of theaquaduct. Turns out the “colorful stairs” those Australians were looking for – the ones from the U2 video – yes,these are the same ones we mounted to get to Compania dos Atores.
To continue: We’re in the office at Compania. We meet Cesar Agusto, the garrulous actor and impresario whohas been our main contact thus far; the sly Marcelo Olinto, who pretends to keep working on his laptop but never fails to roll his eyes at some of Cesar’s exaggerations or add in side comments with hand gestures; and the calm BelGarcia (Bel is short for “Isabel”), whom we saw as Hamlet yelling at Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in the video of Hamlet.Rehearsal we watched lastnight.
We talk about the dates; looks like we got it wrong on our end (the 29th is a Tuesday, it’s incontrovertible). We’ll start tomorrow with a group ofabout 20, actors from Compania, actors they’ve had in workshops or who have collaborated with them in the past, plus Dito and myself.
Compania dos Atores has been around for 20 years. It began as a company of 8 actors. In recent years, Enrique Diaz has emerged as the center of the group, and he directs most of the company's work. They have a repertory, like Pig Iron, and they're still performing some works from ten years' back.
Cesar and Bel have seen some the videos we sent ahead. Bel says she dug Love Unpunished a lot, “In the first five minutes, I thought, Oh no, I’m going to hate this,” but then found herself sitting to watch the whole thing. I say: I get that comment a lot, and not just about that piece.
Cesar’s got a story. He picked up a cellphone in a cab in Sao Paolo (the Compania is collaborating with a famous “boulevard” kind of actor, Marco Nanini, on acomedy in Sao Paolo this month; as far as I can tell, it’s the equivalent of“the Odd Couple” in Brazil. They say “O Bem Amado” is one of those comedies that was huge in the 60s, became a movie, then a TV show. It takes me a while to understand where it “sits” in the culture: but I guess it’s as though Elevator Repair Service did “the Odd Couple” with Ricky Gervais. Which, now that I think about it, I really hope happens. The play only runs Friday through Sunday, so the actors commute 3 days a week to Sao Paolo, an hour’s flight away.
(Wikipedia tells me that Nanini was made famous with his production of Charles Ludlum’s Irma Vep, which ran for 11 consecutive years in Brazil. Nice.)
But the cellphone. Cesar left an identical cellphone in a taxi last year. He grabbed this one bcause he trusts himself more than the cab driver to send it back. He searches the address book for clues. Famous Brazilian actors and actresses pepper the list. Could this be…the cellphone of DADO DOLABELLA, the sexy telenovela star? No, it couldn’t be!
But in the cellphone is none other than Pepita Rodriguez: movie star of the 60s and 70s (Marcelo, at his desk, indicates “from waaaaaayback” with his hands, continuing to type).
Marcello at his desk (note the wine bottle…):
Cesar tries a few numbers. No answer. Does he dare to call Pepita Rodriguez? (Again, I’m trying to find a counterpart from the US: Jane Fonda? Diane Keaton? I have no idea, really.)
He does. He did. Pepita is thrilled that he has indeed found the cellphone of her son,matinee idol Dado Dolabella. Thephone is dropped off, and a bottle of wine is sent in thanks. The card proves the story: “With kisses, from Pepita.”
Pepita as Cesar knew her in his childhood:
Cesar also receives some text messages of an erotic nature from a well-known actress, several years Dado’s senior, while he’s in possession of the phone. The office staff confirm their contents. But this blog has never been in the business of exposing the private lives of Brazilian stars; and we won’t start now. Let’s say only that Dado has been urged … to take things a little bit slower.
(Now it’s really a blog, right? Food, television, gossip. Back to food.)
After drinking Pepita’s wine, we adjourn to a nearby restaurant, Nova Capela, for some cabrito (goat), brocoli rice, fried bananas, and codfishballs.
Here we are with Cesar and Marina the translator, enjoying the enormous dishes.
This gentlemen was voted the “Best Waiter in Rio.” Cesar spends the meal making deals on his cellphone (he’s involved in a varitety of programming and producing projects in Rio) and embracing the waiter.
When we get back to the hotel, bats as big as cats circle the fruit tree out front. We head upstairs to review our videos for our presentation tomorrow.Categories:
Seems there’s been a mix-up on dates and the first day of work is scheduled for Tuesday, not today.
Last night, to our surprise, an old-fashioned yellow streetcar pulled up in Largo de Guimaraes, the small square down the hill from our guesthouse. “Centro?” we asked, and hopped on. It rattled crazily, and some passengers hung onto the sides. The man who collected the fares went hand over hand along the outside of the streetcar while it trundled along, leaning in to take people’s reais. At one point, the cable car makes its way across a single lane bridge; we look through the chickenwire to the highways and neighborhoods below.
Notice the ticket taker on the right here…
After that we walk around Lapa, the neighborhood where Compania dos Atores is located. Turns out that bridge that we crossed on the Bonde (“bon-jzhay” – the cable car) is actually an old aqueduct, now repurposed for the cablecar.
At one point a couple of Australians grab Dito and me. “Do you know where the colorful stairs are?” We explain this is our first day. “The colorful stairs. From the U2 video.” We have no idea what they are talking about.Dito and Marina (our interpreter) and I take the opportunity to head for “Sugarloaf” or “Pão de Açúcar”; Marina knows a path up the first large rock, but we have to take a gondola to get up to the views; pretty breathtaking. Those birds – I guess some of them are vultures and some of them are seagulls, much larger than the ones I’m familiar with –now circle below us or at the same height.
At 4pm we make our way over to Compania dos Atores’ “house” by taxi. There’s some sort of confusion at the street, but eventually we figure out that the street is actually a set of stairs, a pedestrian street that rises sharply a couple of hundred feet. The stairs are covered with a mosaic of painted and found tiles. I don’t know if its several artists or one artist. A lot of red tile, and paintings of naked women with distended bellies celebrating life in the favelas.
Compania dos Atores is a purple building perched about a quarter of the way up the stairs. To our real surprise, our workshop is prominently advertised on a banner out front. Nice. International communication has been spotty, and it wouldn’t be the first time we’ve shown up in another country to plainly surprised faces (this happened in Poland – a kind of “well, yes, you’re in the schedule, but I completely forgot you were coming!”)
We get buzzed into the black metal gate and come upstairs to an airy kitchen with a large dining table in the center. Turning to the right, we walk into a two-room office. Two women work on desktop computers in the first room, and through the windows into the second room 2 men and a woman work on macintosh laptops. Dito and I later say: “That’s a lot like our office.” There are large posters on the walls from festivals where Compania has performed Rehearsal.Hamlet and other shows (That’s the piece they are most famous for, I think – it came to Mark Russell’s “Under the Radar” Festival last year, but somehow none of us managed to see it there.)
More soon on Day 2 of the trip to Rio….Categories:
Hey there blog-readers, undifferentiated mass of whom I know nothing:
If you’ve been trying to follow this trip to Brazil, please note – I’m behind on the posts. But I have notes from each day, so right now I’m just sanding off the rough edges and getting them linked to photos. Should be able to date them properly, though.
Today we arrived in Rio. Turns out that it was Amtrak that was the troublesome part of our trip – both Dito and I were delayed more than an hour on the train from Philadelphia.
We take the redeye from Newark to Sao Paolo and take the 1 hour flight to Rio de Janeiro.
Here’s Dito (van Reigersberg), shrouding himself with a blanket – the airplane AC is freezing him.
As we enter the immigration line, the 40-something man takes my passport, checks my visa. “Use condoms,” he instructs me – ruefully? We can’t tell if it’s with a snarl or a smile.
We are here in Rio on a professional “blind date”: Cláudia Tatinge, a professor at Wesleyan who hosted HELL MEETS HENRY HALFWAY a couple of years back, insisted that we must meet Compania dos Atores – an ensemble of actor-creators from Rio de Janeiro. Cláudia is a Brazilian actress and director. So we fired off a travel grant request to TCG and they supported the request – kind of in advance of our making contact with Cia dos Atores… So we went back and forth on email, added another company from Rio to visit (Compania Lia Rodrigues), and finally, in the waning days of the grant period, as TCG threatened to take the money back if we didn’t use it, we managed to find time in our schedule and their schedule to make the trip.
So now we’re here in Rio de Janeiro, a balmy 70 degrees in winter. As we drive away from the airport, we see enormous birds in the sky – vultures? We ask our taxi driver, Christiane, who looks like a cross between Amy Capommachio and her partner Beth; “Uburú,” she says. In Spanish, we try to get more info? A big bird? It eats meet? Dead meat, she replies. OK, vultures.
Christiane hurtles through the streets towards the heights of Santa Teresa, a steeply inclined neighborhood that overlooks the city. Cesar Agusto, an actor from Compania Dos Atores, has set us up with Denise Milfont, an artist-friendly proprietor of a house here.
And the Ebullient Denise Milfont, exuding welcome as we arrive…
The guesthouse is lovely. A small gate off a rocky street, a large fruit tree on the stone patio, paved with irregular stones.
My sink – these blue tiles are frequently seen in Brazil, it seems. The house is from 1923. The lion head spits out water.
Denise plies us with breakfast: brown bread, fresh cheese that squeaks when you bite it, guava paste, and “milk jam” – i.e., dulce de leche. Fantastic. I pour myself a cup of coffee, but I pass it off to Dito (the professional coffee drinker) once I realize it’s the kind of lethal supercondensed brew you’re supposed to cut with water. I make myself a more gentle version.
There’s a French family staying here, as well as several Brazilian actors and directors. Denise runs a kind of artists’ colony, and some of the apartments are used in conjunction with a residency for visual artists. Dito speaks Spanish fluently, and I have some French, and breakfast passes in a mish-mash of all 4 languages. Denise is funny – she forgets which language she’s speaking half the time and switches between French, English, and Spanish mid sentence.
There are tiny monkeys on the tree outside, almost tame. “Very sweet, tres petite! I try not to feed them bananas,” says Denise – “Then you can never get rid of them, they come into the house, the bite everything, eat the passports, you know.” But she breaks the rule and Dito passes one a small piece of banana which is snatched with tiny claws.
Now we’re headed out to meet our translator, Marina, somewhere near Ipanema. Later we’ll plan our workshops and presentation. The plan is to meet Monday-Wednesday: 1 day of ‘sit down meetings’, sharing videos and explanations of artistic methods; then a day each on our feet, each company leading some research and exercises from our theater.
Posted by Dan Rothenberg, 5:27 PM, 7.28.08