Federico van Erven Cabala (Federal Fluminense University)


Frederico van Erven Cabala is PhD student in Comparative Literature at Federal Fluminense University (UFF), in final year. He is advised by Prof. Dr. André Dias. His dissertation explores the diversity of reception about the play O rei da vela (The Candle King) across the twentieth century in works of literary critics and historians of Brazilian Drama. Cabala has articles published in journals and chapters in books whose themes mainly approach the fictional productions of Oswald de Andrade, Nelson Rodrigues and Lúcio Cardoso. His last work was published in Portuguese and French as a chapter of the book Brazilian modernism: first signs, echoes and problems (Modernismo brasileiro: prenúncios, ecos e problemas/ Modernisme Bresilien: signes précurseurs, échos et problèmes, 2023)


“Modern Brazilian Drama: Impacts of the play O rei da vela (The Candle King), by Oswald de Andrade”

The analyses of Modern Brazilian Drama have had many transformations along last century. If, until the 1960s, the issue presented itself as a unison–the beginning of Modern from the premiere of the play Vestido de noiva (The Wedding Dress), by Nelson Rodrigues, in 1943, since the last decades of the twentieth century other accomplishments for the theatre began to be considered as important milestones of the establishment of a theatrical art of modern preoccupations in Brazil. In this paper I intend to present some reconsiderations that important literary critics and historians of Brazilian Drama (mainly Sábato Magaldi and Décio de Almeida Prado) made from the play O rei da vela, by Oswald de Andrade. The masterpiece of the paulista modernist was published in 1937 (before the creation of Nelson Rodrigues, therefore), but only premiered in the stages in 1967, in a memorable production of Teatro Oficina, under the direction of José Celso Martinez Corrêa. The gap of thirty years between the silent publication and the thunderous staging is filled with changes in aesthetic criteria regarding what would be Modern Drama in Brazil. Statements made by literary critics from the beginning of the twentieth century show that a longing for the renewal of Brazilian Drama involved a dissociation between an ideally serious theatre and a rather rejected comic theatre. I propose to present examples of how the perception of Nelson Rodrigues’ play was aligned exactly with this idealization of a serious theatre, while Oswald de Andrade’s play, which was aesthetically filled with contributions from circus and revue, generated a feeling of frustration in specialized criticism,who first did not see the scenic potential of that creation. From this, I intend to contribute with reflections that move towards broadening the idea of Modern Brazilian Drama, which, as I understand it, was formed from propositions of very different aesthetic matrices