Accepted Paper:

A marginal community in the spotlight: the case of the amateur theatre in Torrão and its relations to power  


Sara Diogo (University of Évora)

Paper short abstract:

The relations of power based on the cultural capitals were questioned by Vicente Rodrigues, who presented the "literary canon" to his rural village through several shows, mainly during the dictatorial time. This showed that this people could read the texts through their own horizon of expectations

Paper long abstract:

We propose to discuss the concepts of center and margin through the analysis of the relations of power among individuals and institutions in a specific case: the amateur theatre in Torrão, a village distant from the most important cultural centers, with a high rate of illiteracy and weak political or cultural expression in that time and region. In spite of these specifications, Torrão was a center of promotion of the theatrical activity and of the literary canon between the 1940's and 1980's.

This dynamics existed because of the action of Vicente Rodrigues, a local writer who wrote several comedies to be shown together with plays from the literary canon. His politically aware actions made those plays reach a public whose constitution of capitals was that of the rural workers and who apprehended them through their own horizon of expectations, analogically incorporating concepts about the "class struggle". Therefore, the work by Rodrigues questioned the existence of "pre-dispositions" in the capacity of absorption of the products from/ to the "scholarly culture", opposing itself to an elitist vision who considered those peasants unable to understand the texts of the canon.

The plays by Rodrigues often had a musical element. Most of those songs have remained in the local canon, contributing to the identity matrix of Torrão. So, when some were mass distributed in CD's, the population of Torrão reacted negatively, feeling that their heritage was being attacked, which constitutes a new relation of power in these dynamics.

Panel P60
Everyday names, tales, songs and play: continuous traditions in a changing world