Once the dictatorship had ended, State funding propelled an unprecedented cinematic revival – Carandiru, Central Station and City of God found an international following.

This retomada was marked by strong Cinema Novo influences, as well as social critique, which can still be found today’s films.


Since the earliest days of Brazilian theater, theatrical groups have drawn their inspiration from popular/folk culture. This can be seen through groups like Teatro Brasileiro de Comedia founded by Alfredo Mesquita and Decio de Almeida Prado; their original amateur group later turned professional producing plays of high caliber; this phase was marked by an eclectic repertoire and using Brazilian folk literature (stories printed in cheap magazines during local fairs) as sources for dramaturgy and character creation.

Joaquim Pedro de Andrade founded the Grupo de Teatro Universitario in the 1940s to revitalize Brazilian theater; their productions such as Macunaima and Como Era Gostoso o Meu Frances opened up international markets to Brazilian theatre.

As part of its postwar dictatorship, Brazil sought to develop new forms of artistic expression through Cinema Novo. This movement, spearheaded by musicians Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, brought European auteur cinema aesthetics together with limited resources and depicting Brazilian reality into one filmic medium.

Theater groups today continue to find new forms of expression through theater. Over the last two decades, for instance, Uniao e Olho Vivo Theater (Union and Live Eye Theater) has focused on developing theater in poor neighborhoods by working with popular narratives – an approach grounded in their belief that developing Brazilian identity requires creating links between artists and working classes.


Brazilian theaters began to blossom during the late nineteenth century. Joao Caetano, often considered the father of Brazilian theatre, brought Shakespeare plays such as Hamlet to local stages despite prevailing norms and stereotypes of their times; his productions still managed to alter Shakespearean texts through interpretation, though. His 1835 performance of Hamlet stands as a landmark performance in Brazilian theatre history.

Hamlet in Brazil marks one of the earliest performances to assume political overtones. Around this same time, Brazilian filmmakers established an exclusively Brazilian cinematic trend: silent film Os Estranguladores was an enormously popular success, leading to a whole industry for theatrical and film works; throughout the 1920s movie theaters increased in size as power supplies improved.

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At this time, several professional theatre groups were established, many specializing in musicals while others concentrated more heavily on drama and comedy. Theatre groups at this time were typically funded privately; government support wasn’t readily available. Furthermore, with the development of a central system for movie distribution came an increase both in number of theatres available as well as quality of films shown to their audiences.

After the military dictatorship ended, theatre practitioners like Augusto Boal implemented the Theater of the Oppressed technique, enabling non-professional actors to use theater as a form of communication and activism. This movement quickly gained traction both across Brazil and internationally; its poetics and techniques remain popular today; for example Teatro de Arena uses them in their work, rejecting and adopting European theater models like Brecht and Stanislavski while at the same time drawing inspiration from them.


Teatro da Paz was constructed as the inaugural monumental character theater in Brazil under a design by Jose Tiburcio de Magalhaes in 1874, similar to an opera house with an orchestra pit, proscenium arch and curtain system; additionally hosting various cultural events at this landmark venue.

Theater was an effective medium for expressing different viewpoints of transgressions within Brazilian culture. Severino Albuquerque analyzes changing theatrical motifs throughout the 20th century to illustrate how theatrical performances provided an outlet for previously suppressed ideas and representations that deviated from social norms; his research also sheds light on its function as an arena where sexuality and gender identities could be explored; ultimately making an invaluable contribution to Brazilian society as a whole.

After the military coup of 1964, theatre and film production saw a new surge with Cinema Novo’s introduction as a response to major political changes within Brazil. Historians divide this period’s cinema into three phases; from 1960 until 1964; 1964 to 1968; and 1968 until 1972.

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Joaquim Pedro de Andrade and Nelson Pereira dos Santos were two prominent filmmakers of this phase. Both made films that criticized Brazilian government policies while fighting social inequities. Their allegories used parody as their main technique; an example would be Macunaima with Grande Otello playing an allegory against whitewashing of Brazilian mythology; another would be Como Era Gostoso o Meu Frances about whiteizing an African man.

Satyros was an experimental theatre group founded in Sao Paulo during the late 1980s that would go on to host annual cultural marathons called Satyrianas that ran for 78 hours, mixing theatre, music, cinema, literature, and dance performances as a response to Brazil’s newly introduced censorship regulations following military coup.


Theater was an early and essential cultural institution in Brazil. The Portuguese brought their tradition of theater with them from Europe compared to countries that had started off without this aspect of culture.

Brazilian theater was heavily influenced by European ideas of beauty and artistic representation as well as local cultural elements – for instance theaters built in the Amazon rainforest were often decorated with indigenous fauna and flora to reflect local identity and create an eclectic aesthetic which expressed search for an individual bourgeois identity.

In the 1940s, a theater company emerged that would play an essential role in shaping modern Brazilian theater. Their first production, Vestido de Noiva (The Wedding Dress), in 1943 revolutionized theatrical practice at that time and is often considered as the start of modern Brazilian theater.

Cinema Novo was an attempt at reinvention that took inspiration from European models but tailored them specifically to Brazilian reality. Its goal was to bring culture of the people onto the screen while showing its social issues; with theater acting as an educational tool and tool to find solutions to its social and economic woes.

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This idealism remains alive in today?s theaters and film studios. Though some may criticize its superficiality, this approach has proven successful; helping Brazil become the second-highest box office revenue country in Latin America after Mexico. Furthermore, its affordable pricing policy has drawn in newcomers while serving as an international model that other nations follow today.


Brazilian theatrical performances draw huge audiences, from popular regional comedies in neighborhood theatres to lavish classical productions at Rio de Janeiro’s opera house. Furthermore, Brazil boasts an impressive film industry producing several international award contenders; while North American and European movies remain more widely enjoyed than Brazilian cinema’s national offerings; from 60s classics such as Bye Bye Brazil and Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands through 90s flicks like Os Fuzis (The Guns) and Tropa de Elite 1& 2 (Elite Squad 1& 2) Brazilian movies display strong social consciousness that criticize power structures which fail people while at the same time failing them as their intended audiences.

Brazil’s cultural legacy, with influences from Europe and China, exerts an enormous influence over its films. Even simple comedies possess their own individual approach to depicting Brazilian culture – making it hard to categorize Brazilian cinema simply as another form of commercialism.

Theaters built during the late nineteenth century in Manaus and Belem serve as significant monuments that demonstrate how, during the rubber boom era, civility and progress could be introduced into tropical environments by replicating European models of civility and progress. These ideas manifested themselves through urban layout reforms, urban agglomeration projects and construction of streets, avenues and squares. Within these theaters’ interior decoration scheme was an intersection between Amazonian elements and local bourgeois style creating inseparable spaces. The decorative theme of these spaces blends elements of Belle Epoque with an eclectic language characteristic of Brazil’s wide cultural diversity, reflecting both of which the Brazilian theater has long championed through the years and continues to offer today.