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Zé Celso, Creator of Teatro Oficina and Translator of Tropicalism for The Stage, Dies

Victim of a fire, the playwright replaced good taste with truth in plays like ‘O Rei da Vela’, which defied the Brazilian dictatorship

The biggest name in Brazilian dramaturgy and creator of the tropicalist language in theater, José Celso Martinez Corrêa, Zé Celso, who staged revelry, orgy, and anarchy at Teatro Oficina, died this Thursday (6), at the age of 86, in São Paulo.

He was admitted to the Hospital das Clínicas (SP) after having had 53% of his body burned in a fire caused by an electric heater that consumed his apartment, in the neighborhood of Paraíso, during the early hours of Tuesday (4).

In the 1960s, Zé Celso chose Oswaldian anarchy to challenge the repression of the military dictatorship. The artist was part of the founding group of Teatro Oficina, which would become a symbol of Brazilian theater.

Ten years later, the company produced the play “O Rei da Vela”, a classic inspired by the book of the same name written in 1933 by Brazilian writer Oswald de Andrade, which satirized the country’s subservient policy and behavior towards the developed world.

Under the direction of Zé Celso, the actors Renato Borghi, Othon Bastos, Etty Fraser, and Dina Sfat mocked the films of Atlântida, the comedies of manners, and the wordy tone of the operas.

Zé Celso then consolidated the foundations of the Teatro Oficina, going to the center of the dramaturgical language. A theater thinker, he rescued the concept of modernist anthropophagy.

Thus, he replaced good taste with truth. Deeply knowledgeable of the Russian Constantin Stanislavski’s method, he brought about a decisive change in Brazilian performance. The plays would not be composed of a succession of juxtaposed speeches, but of a permanent dialogue between the cast and the audience.

Source: Folha De S. Paulo