Antônio Araújo

meeting with the Brazilian scene director

Le Teatro da Vertigem

Still unknown to the French public, the scene director will be invited to Paris in 2011 for a tour and an original creation. Antônio Araújo is the largest Brazilian producer scene of his generation. No one can get out indifferent of a show signed by him. Those courses at ARTA is an opportunity to discover its specific work process, while allowing the director to concretely meet French artists.

The concern  » to see the contemporary man lost and away from its sacred dimension  » born in 1992 his Teatro da Vertigem (Vertigo Theatre), in a country where the theater is divided into two main movements : one side commercial theater developed in as an approach of the US theater and on the other side, group of theater based on research and experimentation.

Antônio Araújo chose his field without hesitation, immediately, because he always knew that to advance in his research he needed a permanent and stable troupe, consisting in actors gathered around a core of responsable lighting designers from decor and dramaturgy.

Antônio Araújo does not leak the difficulties, because in addition to the group choice, Tó, as it is fondly called in Brazil, creates performances that requires more space than the usual theaters. For example, his first creation, Paradise Lost by John Milton took place in a church, The Book of Job in an abandoned hospital, Apocalypse 1.11 in a disused prison and BR-3 in a boat on the Tiete River which crosses the city of Sao Paulo. Tó, as a genuine man of stage, has long been known that the theater was born in a public place and that over the centuries it has already occupied the most diverse spaces. His choices are dictated by the conviction that in non – conventional spaces text can gain strength .

The Teatro da Vertigem, which wants to be out of institutions, a bastard theater according to his director, has become the most awarded group of Brazilian contemporary scene of the last two decades, « the bastard theater is, by the very impure nature of theater, as legitimate as any « other ». Its hybridity, more than a signal of weakness or decharacterization seems to remodel, extend and potentiate which already exist in the geniune of theater. The theater at the collective level, is the result of multiple paternity and polysemic, crack individual authorities and occupies public spaces, between the traditional and the experimental. » Religiosity is a constant in the work of Antônio Araújo. When Vertigem speaks of spirituality or transcendence, it uses radical body language without comparison in the Brazilian theater, which leads people to compare the Teatro da Vertigem  to the Théâtre de la cruauté of Antonin Artaud.

Paradise Lost, based on the homonymous work of John Milton, was presented for the first time in 1992 at St. Iphigenia church, with four hours of delay due to protests against the show organized by the bishops and Catholic community. The spectacle of the season has been disrupted by the controversy which has attracted media attention , police intervention, bomb threats in the performance space, anonymous letters, death threats by the director, policy interventions and against religious and for the work of this group that has, from its inception, knew how to become visible.

The next show in 1995. With The book of Job, the Teatro da Vertigem occupies three floors of the disused Umberto Primo hospital on this show which tells the story of a challenge of the Devil, from which God will test Job which calls into question the actions of the Lord and oscillates between faith without limit of his Jewish friends and the absolute rejection of any belief of his wife. In the end, only Job, with his faith, will be able to challenge acts of God , will arrive on the third floor, transcendence .

Three years later, Antônio Araújo stages Apocalypse 1,11, where the characters become the masters of their fates after submission to God and rebellion in subsequent shows. The character of João continues its way between the promised New Jerusalem and Babylon the decadent , a cabaret where the star is the Devil, a transvestite. Third and final part of the  » Biblical Trilogy « the show was conceived and presented in Brazilian prisons in countries like Poland and Germany. The creative process was developed from workshops with prisoners of the Carandiru Penitentiary , the result of a dialogue between actors and non- actors in a work that addressed the end of time and had a portrait at once cruel and real Brazilian reality.

The fourth performance of the Teatro da Vertigem, BR-3 was created in 2005 and aims to discuss the Brazilian identity. The research fields selected by the group are based on the radical BR: Brasiléia , the bottom end of town Acre , outskirts of Brazil, Brasília, the center of political power, but also a peripheral capital on the world map, Brasilândia, a suburb of the city of Sao Paulo, the richest of the country. These paradoxes is the idea of working on dichotomies : archaic / modern; spectacularly unspectacular / center / periphery.

From BR -3 José Celso Martinez Corrêa said that « when something appears as BR-3 is a symptom that the country is going through a great moment, which calls all the energies of creation to the transformations we need to do. No decadent society produces such a work . The theater becomes the place of the productive energy of creative joy capable of confronting unresolved impasses by violence. » From its beginnings Antônio Araújo prints its brand shows at Teatro da Vertigem, the most radical of his work proposal aspect is probably his conception of theater as a collaborative research between the actors, the playwright and the director on issues of our time, the present.

One of the features of the Teatro da Vertigem is his way of working with the participation of all group members. The process of creation of the scenic piece can be carried out in all its fullness thanks to a dynamic work or rather a creative methodology in which each members of the group, from its specific functions can, in the same space, make proposals without hierarchy – or with movable hierarchies, decided by the needs of each work – resulting in a work whose authorship belongs to all.

Antônio Araújo’s theater is not content to be just an artist-theater where artists proposing a raw material stage. Instead it seeks especially to also assume the role of artist – thinkers, both in methodological research than in the general direction of the show.


Deolinda Vilhena Journalist, producer and professor at the University of Sao Paulo