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Photos by Fernando Teler
Chico Simões - Mamulengo Presepada
Mamulengo Presepada is Brazilian puppeteer Chico Simões’ masterful version of the popular Mamulengo handpuppet traditions of northeastern Brazil. Similar (and related) to the Italian Pulcinella, French Guignol, and English Punch and Judy traditions, Mamulengo street performances feature a ribald trickster hero—Benedito the Vaqueiro (or cowboy)—who meets and bests a series of colorful characters ranging from commedia dell’arte archetypes to Brazilian caricatures and mythological beings like the bull Bumba-meu-boi. Chico Simões’ version of Mamulengo includes expert puppet movement and characterization, skillful improvisation based on the spontaneity of the puppeteer and the audience, and a hypnotic sense of rhythm and music. Expertly playing with the fictional world of the handpuppet booth for kids, and the metatheatrical meanings of transgressive puppetry for adults, Mamulengo Presepada is a stunning experience for all audiences. These performances are sponsored in part by UConn’s El Instituto, the Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean and Latin American Studies.
About the Artist
Puppeteer and educator Chico Simões is the director of the cultural center “Ponto de Cultura Invenção Brasileira” in Taguatinga, Brazil.He has been performing, studying, and lecturing about Mamulengo traditions throughout Brazil for over 30 years. From 1981 to 1985 Simões studied in northeastern Brazil with such Mamulengo masters such as Carlos Babau, Master Solon, and Master Chico Daniel, and since 1983 has presented over 2,500 Mamulengo performances in Brazil and other countries in the Americas and Europe, winning many awards for his work. In 2009 Simões was a Distinguished Writer in Residence at the University of California, Berkeley, sponsored by the university’s Center for Latin American Studies.
In regard to his work, Chico Simões writes: “Working in popular culture, and with Mamulengo in particular, is a pleasure; a profession and a mission inherited from the masters of this tradition. It is also an effective means of holding up a mirror to the public. By identifying with the characters, their stories, their passions and their creative spirit, the spectator discovers the possibility of confronting life with creativity and humor.” mamulengo.org
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