The black presence in culture in Portugal
with Teatro Griot
11 February, Monday, 6 – 9 p.m.
Espaço Santa Catarina, Lisbon

Museums and stages are places of representation. In 2018, the heated debate about the creation of a Museum of the Discoveries in Lisbon revealed that there is a very specific image of the appearance of the Portuguese citizen; in particular, with regards to their colour. The use of “blackface” and other apparatus pretending to be black in theatre plays and television programmes multiplied. And then … the audiodescription of theatre performances and museum objects: to mention or not to mention the colour of the skin? Access Culture invited Griot Theatre to reflect on these and other issues.

Griot Theatre tells us:

“Black is the color of transgression, of exception, but also of the pagan and the sacred.

Black is a color without variations – it has no color or hue. Any change in its intensity turns it gray or makes its variations invisible to the human eye. In clothing, black is associated with different political movements, ranging from anarchists to Italian fascists, the color of the priest’s cassock, judges and referee uniforms. This unchanged character, ideal for the uniform that homogenises, has an invisible and fixed dimension that is parallel to the black presence in Portuguese society. What are the manifestations of blackness in culture in Portugal in the last 500 years? And in 40 years of democracy?

But how to look at black from his contemporary place? What is the place to see or and to be seen? It is necessary to re-interrogate.

For how long have we not been here?”

Teatro GRIOT is a theatre company dedicated to the exploration of themes relevant to the construction and problematisation of the emerging contemporary and intercultural European identity, and its reflection in theatrical discourse and aesthetics. It has already presented texts by several authors, such as Wole Soyinka, Pepetela, Breyten Breytenbach, William Shakespeare, Lynn Nottage, Aeschylus, Al Berto or Genet, staged by Rogério de Carvalho, Nuno M Cardoso, Guilherme Mendonça, Bruno Bravo, Paula Diogo, António Pires, João Fiadeiro and Zia Soares.