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By Juliana Tafur, Contributing Reporter

António Simão, actor from the Lisbon-based theater company Artistas Unidos, photo by Juliana Tafur.
António Simão, actor from the Lisbon-based theater company Artistas Unidos, photo by Juliana Tafur.

RIO DE JANEIRO – More than eighty participants from eleven theater companies and six countries are in Rio de Janeiro to celebrate something they all share: a common language. The second edition of Festlip (Festival of the Portuguese Language), showcases free-of-charge theater performances from Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Portugal.

“Brazil has yet to experience an awakening towards the knowledge and consumption of the cultures of our language brothers,” said festival creator and producer, Tânia Pires. During a ten-day exchange, due to last from July 2-12, organizers hope the festival surpasses last year’s 15-million spectators and leads to an active exchange of ideas between Brazil and the other lusophone countries.

“It’s only possible to love what’s known. Through communication, we can get to know the other cultures influenced by Portugal,” said Angolan actor and musician Daniel De Oliveira. “We are all very different in terms of gastronomy, culture and the way we dress. But here, we’re sharing these differences through our performances.”

De Oliveira traveled all the way from Luanda, Angola’s capital city, to perform “Kimpa Vita – A Profetisa Ardente” (Kimpa Vita – A Burning Prophet). His theater company, Elinga-Teatro, will re-enact the true-life story of an Angolan woman who believed she was Saint Anthony and was condemned to be burnt alive by the Inquisition.

The festival’s performances, now on display at Teatro Sesc Ginástico, Espaço Sesc and Teatro Sesc Tijuca, cover a wide range of topics – from abusive relationships and phobias to the search for an ideal man. From Lisbon, the theater company Artistas Unidos presents “Uma Solidão Demasiado Ruidosa” (A Very Noisy Solitude), which provides an inside look at the life of a man living in Prague in the late thirties.

António Simão performing the one-man show Uma Solidão Demasiado Ruidosa, photo by Juliana Tafur.
António Simão performing the one-man show Uma Solidão Demasiado Ruidosa, photo by Juliana Tafur.

His name is Hanta, and he lives in a smelly, rat-ridden old house, full of books. He spends his days crushing these books into cubes of paper, and stores their texts in his memory. From his solitude, he talks about his life, love affairs and beer bottles, repeatedly pointing out that “he drinks to think better.”

The Portuguese actor António Simão plays the role of Hanta in this screenplay written by Bohumil Hrabal. Through his performance, Simão hopes to transmit the story in its purest form: “I insert into my acting what I felt when I first read the screenplay. The idea is for the audience to establish a certain intimate bond with the literature.”

The 36-year-old actor says that he’s happy to be a part of the festival, and emphasizes that “language is that which distances humans from monkeys.” Simão believes there are intrinsic thought structures and cultural values that are shared among lusophone countries.

Festival organizers also recognize their similarities, and foresee future professional theater partnerships from Angola to Brazil, Portugal to Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau to Cape Verde.

For more information on the festival, go to: http://www.talu.com.br/festlip/index_home.htm

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