Learning on the stage art

Have you ever thought about the walls that cross cities? Not only physical walls, that split public and private spaces, but also imaginary divisions that we built based on social and cultural differences? These were the questions that came up when I had contact, in 2015, with Teatro Cidadão. 

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“Teatro cidadão” is a social project focused on youngsters who live in Heliopolis, a needy community in São Paulo city, Brazil. During 4 months some young people leave the local community to expand their knowledge on lighting, body expression and acting classes, as well as everything related to theatre production.

This action could be just one more professional qualification for needy community youngsters if art wasn’t involved. With the artistic process incorporated in the project actions, a new world is offered to their participants.

This project enlarges the concept of work beyond the essential support for life. Showing other ways of being part of a society, of being inserted as a transforming agent who has autonomy for personal choices.

The activities of “Teatro Cidadão have been occurring since 2006, and the last 3 years with Petrobras support. In this period, according to Augusto Marin, head of the project, youngsters and teenagers could practice their talents either on stage, or behind the scenes. Also, they could realise other ways of thinking and seeing the world, going beyond the reality that surrounds them.

To the happiness of all people involved, the classes are taught in the theatre (Teatro Commune), which make the stage magic available in the heart of Sao Paulo city. Even the theatre location is a citizenship lesson. Michelle Gabriel, actress and head of the Project as well, tells that a lot of participants only know São Paulo city centre because of the project. This could be impressive, but most of them never had the opportunity, or even the motivation, to see other Sao Paulo neighbourhoods apart from the place where their live.

Considering this, the idea that we live in a community surrounded by imaginary walls is not so absurd.

After weekly meetings with actors/educators, all knowledge is put to the test. At the end of training time, all participants have been involved in creation, preparation and acting in a final show. In 2015, I could photograph a happy group on two occasions: on the first and the last day of the project.

The change promoted in this period was tremendous. On the first day, with insecure smiles of those who are full of expectation and uncertainties… Seeing them getting in the new world was a motivator, totally different of what they live day by day. Curious, but brave enough to allow themselves to a new way.

In the second moment, in the theatrical show, it was great to see the same smiles, which now expressed “that” inherent nervousness that happens before the show.

I could feel how being in a theatre was a well-known territory, and the actors, directors and producers who came to life, started to see several possibilities to tell a story.

Indeed, photographing “Teatro Cidadão”, I could testify how social action, that uses art, can transform youngsters of a needy community into Dell’art citizens