This morning Prof. Carmela Soares came to our hostel to travel with us to her workshop, which is called Teatro Renascer. This workshop meets in a community center attached to a public hospital, and it’s a theatre troupe of women over the age of 70. The group has been together for thirteen years now, and most of the participants have been a part of it for more than ten years.
I always warn my students that this four-hour workshop will wear them out more than any other that we do because the women in the workshop have such incredible energy! They sing, dance, laugh, and play games for the entire workshop, almost without pause, and by the end of it, we’re totally worn out. The women always bring snacks and drinks to share with us at the end, and once we’ve eaten, they want everyone to start dancing again. Most of us are ready to fall over from all of the activity we’ve already done that morning, and these glorious women always seem to be just getting started. This is made all the more remarkable by the fact that many of them ride the bus for an hour or even two to arrive at the workshop each week.
The oldest member of the group is an incredibly lively 90-year-old named Teresa. In an exercise where we were making tableaus (still images) with our bodies, she repeatedly laid down on the floor to create her image and hopped right back up again afterwards. Oh, that we all could be blessed with such a long life of agility, joy, and good health!
Carmela and her students facilitate this workshop each week with exercises in theatre and music, and the group produces an original play once a year. Teatro Renascer is an intergenerational project in which the students and the women try to address the stereotypes that people have about older folks. It’s beautiful work, and the entire group radiates love and joy. They hug us, kiss our cheeks, dance with us all over the room, and when it’s time to leave, they cling to us and say, “Volte sempre!” (“Always come back!”)
In the afternoon, we went to campus for a theatre game exchange. Each of the five theatre programs with which we work at UniRio and our PCAP students come together to learn about one another’s work. We spent about four hours together, explaining what we do in each program and then teaching each other a theatre game we use in the communities where we work. The students from both campuses were really funny and energetic in this exchange, even though it had been a long day for us. I’m very proud of all of our PCAP students and feel blessed to work with them and our Brazilian colleagues.
Boa noite, gente, (good night, everybody!)