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TEDxSP 2009 - Guti Fraga do

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Good morning, everyone. Good morning! Good morning! Alright, time to wake up, I'm the last one before the break. I'm emotional, I'm nervous, come on, let's share this. Right? I'm very moved by everything that's happening. And I must say that to see this TED movement, a crowd that is so diverse... a movement spearheaded by young people, so integrated and so psyched, so different but with a common goal... To suddenly find such a diverse audience, united for a common goal. You gotta be moved by this, and so here I am, completely emotional, to tell you about a lifetime: about the 23 years of Nos do Morro. What is Nos do Morro? For those who don't know, Nos do Morro is a project for theater and movies which is based at Morro do Vidigal, a slum in Rio de Janeiro. And I... I don't know... I invented this project because sometimes... I always say that I was a poor guy who had all the opportunities in life. And maybe that has somehow influenced a decision I made in my life. I had opportunities, I got to work with perhaps the greatest, most influential people, at least in my opinion,¾¾ the greatest, perhaps the most important people in Brazilian theater: Amir Haddad, Boal, Domingos de Oliveira, anyway, and Marilia Pera, who was the vital person in my life. That dream we have, especially artists, sometimes they dream about being big in the Rio-Sao Paulo axis, the whole deal, and I... geez...working with Marilia was so important, I got to experience that, eating at the best restaurants in Sao Paull and Rio, the whole deal. But when I moved to Rio, I'm also an immigrant, I'm an immigrant, from Mato Grosso, Goias, and I went to live in Rio. And when I went to Rio, I moved straight into a slum, at Morro do Vidigal which is really a beautiful place, with a beautiful view, and lots of artists lived there. But it always that same story, the shattered slum. And I arrived, and there automatically was a great integration between my life and that community, and I met many people who had great talent but no opportunity. So, this issue of opportunity, I guess, was something that drove me the entire time through unimaginable paths. Right? And art gives you that power of travelling, unimaginable travels... And, then, actually one day -- just to get to the point when the bell rang about the whole deal of me founding Nos do Morro-- I went to New York with Marilia, in '85, and I already had a relationship, all those ties inthe community, and then when I got to New York, everybody wanted to go to Broadway, and I went to Harlem. I wanted to see what their niggers were doing, I wanted to see what their slumdogs were doing. I wanted to see the Blues in the parks, the Blues at their sleazy bars. Which is like the samba in our bars, that whole deal. I got there and I was up for that hardcore route and everyone was like: "No, take care", "Look, that's dangerous". And that's true, it is dangerous, roguery is universal, right? Eventually you learn that. And so I got there, man, and I... I went, and I saw things that really touched me. I saw things that made me say: "Damn, that's what I want to do". I went into this tiny venues that would hold like ten people...™ And I could see that the lighting was good and the scenery was good and the actors were amazing. And I was like: "Damn, that's what I want". And I came back from there with my mind made up. I came back and was like:"But how? How I could suddenly give up the lifestyle I achieved after a lifetime, right? How could I let it all go? Geez. I knew that back in Rio I would go back to eating nothing but a cheap lunch a day. But that's what was coming over my soul, and so I went and I done it. I went back to Rio, stopped working with Marilia, And as soon as I got to the community I said: "I'm founding a project". But I didn''t want to just put together a theater company, I wanted to put together a theater company in which quality was essential, and above all, that was about a philosophy of life. That philosophy of life that would perhaps be transformation within the goal, you know? That was based on the collective. That's why we call ourselves Nos do Morro. If you have a multiplying idea, that idea is a multiplication of your soul, it's wanting to multiply the opportunities you've had... To multiply for those who hope, for those who dream... If you have solidarity... We talk about solidarity, it sounds like a press stunt, but solidarity is much simpler sometimes. Sometimes it's me looking into your eyes and, I don't know, and noticing a hole in your soul, and maybe I can stand by you, and by sharing, I am showing solidarity. I think maybe if I hold your hand I'm showing solidarity. Or even practically, we can all pitch in to help pay for the gas in his house because he can't afford it. You know? So, that was vital to me. But of course, that had to come with discipline, organization, responsibility, because these things are not square, they're the only way to get things working. I say that because I like to keep repeating these things, because that's what makes it different. Because I never wanted to put together a theater project so that people could get famous. No, I did it so they could become good artists, yet humane artists, different artists, good citizens. And in a way that "excuse me" would still be in use, that "please" would be essential. That "thank you very much" would be essential. And offering your seat to an elderly person would be essential. And not littering would be important. So, we've been doing that for 23 years now, and picking a huge fight against something called stereotype. Because when you have a theater company from the slum, people think you're making mock-theater. and with all the experimentation I had, I was looking for a new path a methodological path that I could... sort of like Paulo Freire, but in the theater. Something like was like a path that I had been pursuing, and I believed in the transforming power it could have. Anyway. And when I found it, I thought of producing plays that were about the community, and interpolating these with classics from Brazilian literature. In order to, above all, include that audience that didn't have access to theater. And so I founded Nos do Morro-- I gotta be quick-- and... that's so crazy... I'm so nervous... And in the meantime... Thank you. Thank you for the support, 'cause I'm super nervous. And, in the meantime you just walk around and it feels like you're not a citizen. And it seems like you become a citizen when you get an ID but in our case the ID seems to be winning an award. And that's how it happened for us. In '93, when we produced in "Machadiando", which was three stories by Machado de Assis, that was a turning point, I mean, if I start listing all the turning points, we'll be here all day long counting turning points, because it's been 23 years of living intensively, 23 years surfing on a wave of no return, inside the wave, really. So, then... When we produced Machado de Assis, we managed to take, for the first time in the Vidigal slum, the great theater critic, Mrs. Barbara Heliodora. We managed to make our first documentary, and the photographer was, by the way, Estevao, I don't know if he's here, Estevao Cevata. And then we won our first Shell Prize. Try to picture that, the first time a theater troupe from a slum won the Shell Prize. That alone was strange. And we had our first partnership with Cecily Berry who's the voice director at the Royal Shakespeare Company, the greatest Shakespearean company from Stratsford, in England, the town where Shakespeare was born; and we had that opportunity. Because sometimes, I don't know, it's really crazy how you meet people and suddenly it feels like a story from a past life, from another... I don't know. It feels like two souls meet, and it's like they're on the same beat. And Cecily was one of these people in my life. We met, we got to know each other... And we were invited to debut in an exhibition of complete works by Shakespeare, four years ago. We were a Brazilian troupe that had the opportunity to experience that from within. All that life... In terms of turning points, we also had that great privilege of being in Cidade de Deus which was really important to us. Because Fernando Meirelles and Katia Lund were wonderful to me and really made me feel comfortable to create the possibility for one thousand people from all the communities, and forming a gang of a hundred people to have an intensive workshop of three months. And I always say that one of the greatest achievements of Cidade de Deus was the collective. Because people have learned to live together in there. Working, struggling, experimenting, without a creative hierarchy. There was no hierarchy for the freedom to create. So, Fernando and Katia would come over all the time, And by the time they found out that those were the directors they were already on a first-name basis. "Fernando, could you get me a glass of water?" So they didn't have that thing for "THE director", you know, that thing that sometimes creates a distance, and you don't get to be that close, or to have that kind of freedom. I think there are many, many turning points in our life. The fact we are now in the market, working, nationwide, both in movies and in television, but our goal, our primary focus is theater. When people come to Nos do Morro I always say: That's not drama school. It's a place for you to experience art to its fullest. That's what it is, because it's neverending, sharing life through art, that's neverending. You live constantly sharing, seeking, experimenting... The transforming force is this collective of experimentation. The transforming force is having the possibility of being in the 8 o'clock soap opera or in Broadway without losing the simplicity that's in your origins, helping to paint, helping to sweep up... Being down to earth, I think that's how we can transform a society. Transforming a society is being here together, talking about life. I think we're going through a time of great transformation. I'm experiencing a moment of great hope in my life. Although we undeniably have great problems to tackle -- because you can't live on exposure alone-- people live from the everyday things, and the everyday things are no picnic, it's hardcore. I think we have yet to find a better way to go about cultural support. We have the support of Petrobras, which is really important, we've been sponsored by Petrobras for six or seven years now. Because, before that... we never marketed through poverty, because sometimes people want to get sponsored and then we have to go: "oh, look at the poor thing..." I hate that, I hate paternalism! I think what we do have to market is the possibility, for whoever dreams, and we can get there and teach the best we can dream of, And people simply need opportunities. I think we can only really live through these opportunities. Otherwise it's just paternalism and that's what's ruining our country. Like the the example given here-- Like the example given-- Like the example that was mentioned here today, of how water is still traded for votes, of how groceries are still traded for votes. I think art has this power: at the very least you get to have your own opinion. And when you have your own opinion, when you have the courage to speak your mind. You know? You are already a different human being. And art has that power to transform you into this different being. I can't go on and on, I have so much to say... But I can't go on and on because I'd rather show a 3-minute video. So you can have a look at some of the faces of our kids, because there's something I always say, it's crazy, dude. That story of... I never did anyone any favor, the great privilege of this whole story was me. I'm the one who gets the privilege of being a link of possibility, dude! Nos do Morro has been sponsored by Petrobras since 2001. Discuss, and expand this idea.

Video Details

Duration: 18 minutes and 16 seconds
Country: Brazil
License: All rights reserved
Producer: TEDxSP + colmeia
Director: Julio Taubkin
Views: 164
Posted by: tedxsp on Dec 2, 2009

Guti Fraga's speech at TEDx Sao Paulo 2009, November 14th.

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