Carroça de Mamulengos

South America, Brazil, Ceará
Art discipline: Puppetry, large outdoor spectacles
Participated in ICAF in: 2016

Maria Gomide is a member of an extraordinary travelling performance company from Brazil that has been touring the country for almost 40 years. The organization is called Carroça de Mamulengos, which means something like ‘wagon full of puppets'. The company was founded in 1977 by Maria’s father. Since then they have never stopped travelling around Brazil, always establishing profound relations with local communities wherever they happen to stop. The company is very much a family enterprise and today encompasses three generations and many different performance disciplines. These include puppetry, music, clowning, storytelling, and a variety of arts and crafts. Carroça contains many characteristics of a family circus. The company travels around in a bus, but also frequently settles in a place for a while, sometimes even for several months or, as is the case now, a couple of years. Through workshops and easily accessible interactive arts activities for people who have little or no access to the arts, it constructs reciprocal relations with the communities it visits. In these places, it explores Brazilian cultural traditions, which can have indigenous, Afro-Brazilian, or European roots. It regards these very much as living traditions, which constantly adapt to current realities and local circumstances.

Particularly through their interactive workshops, Carroça can easily be considered an itinerant community arts company, as well as an unusual community in itself. Maria’s father firmly believed that it is possible to develop art through interaction with the popular classes of Brazilian society by activating their cultural memories. Brazilian cultural imagination is the sum total of all these indigenous, diaspora and migratory roots. They form the inspiration for the participatory art that Carroça de Mamulengos creates. It’s a deeply humane and dynamic art that can be performed on the street, in a square, in a theatre building or in a circus – and for any kind of audience: young, old, poor, or rich. Carroça prefers not to speak of workshops but of ‘living experiences’. You learn, not by being instructed, but by doing, by experimenting, by creating toys, music, dance, puppets (including giant ones), food, natural pigments for painting.

You can read about our visit to Carroça de Mamulengos here