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Young Vic Turns to South America with Amazonia

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After Olivier and Whatsonstage.com Award-winning success with its South African co-production of The Magic Flute - which finishes its West End run at the Duke of York’s on 19 April (See News, 19 Dec 2007) - the Young Vic is turning its attention to South America for its new international collaboration.

Amazonia is the title for a 15-month series of events created by the Young Vic and People’s Palace Project, which will be presented at the Waterloo venue in London and in the Amazon riverside city of Rio Branco. A celebration of indigenous culture, Amazonia is inspired by the life of Brazilian rubber tapper and environmental activist Chico Mendes, who was assassinated in 1988, and features local dance, the Quadrilha.

The project culminates with a new, as-yet untitled Young Vic Christmas show, written by Brazilian sitcom writer-comedian Pedro Cardoso, directed by PPP’s artistic director Paul Heritage, designed by Brazilian designer Gringo Cardia (who’s credits include Cirque du Soleil) and performed by a cast of Brazilian and British actors.

Ahead of that, London theatregoers can witness the Quadrilha on 16 August 2008 at the Young Vic when the company’s will stage Festa!, this year’s Young Vic community project, with dancing in the main auditorium and outside the theatre on The Cut. The season will also include debates on the themes of activism, climate change, culture and citizenship.

Chico Mendes was one of the first people to resist the deforestation of the Amazon by cattle ranchers. By educating and uniting rubber tappers (founding the National Union of Rubber Tappers) and the indigenous people of the forest, he took vital steps towards preserving the rainforest as a viable social environment and brought his message to international prominence. He was murdered by local ranchers.

Founded ten years ago, People’s Palace Projects produces theatre that encourages individual and social change in the UK, Burkina Faso, Brazil and Azerbaijan via large-scale performances on borders of armed conflicts, dramatised public interventions in legislative assemblies and intimate theatre projects in prisons. Its founder and director Paul Heritage is professor of drama at Queen Mary, University of London, where the company is resident.

- by Terri Paddock


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