Teatro De Arte Popular, The Popol Vuh

Review in Issue 5-1 | Spring 1993

The Popol Vuh is an 18th Century Mayan bible, which warns against greed and the destruction of the natural world. It is questionable, however, whether Brazilian Teatro De Arte Popular’s undeniably sincere representation amounts to a form of Naive Art or simply theatrical naivete.

Billed as an installation, the set, a womb-like, hand-held flashlight lit Santa’s Grotto, ornamented with inexpertly carved wooden totems and masks, only impressed when it ingeniously rained. Unfortunately the impact of that scene was defused by a tableau of a ‘Sprite’ taming a muscular ‘Primitive’ whilst suggestively fingering a Log. This visual, philosophical and thespian clumsiness (which included an absurdly cornflake-covered (!?) ‘Earth Mother’ and an endlessly drooling cave man carnally co-joined), left me musing at the acres of tissue paper outcroppings. Was it recycled paper?

Against these odds, and due largely to the music, we were somehow left with delicate and occasionally magical impressions. As one youthful New Ager happily put it: ‘All sorts of thoughts went through my head.’ Perhaps, after all, there is hope for the future of the planet in a lack of sophistication.

From the issue 5-1 collection of reviews, written by Jackie Adkins, Sarah Dawson, Desmond Jones, Jonathan Megaw, Shani Solomons, Brendan Stapleton and Paul Vates.

Presenting Artists
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Issue 5-1
p. 15