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The Surplus Value Will Be Over, Mr Edgar was the beginning of one of the several movements that tried to establish a proposal for popular theater in that period.
I was a director who wanted to open on stage, so that’s why I tried to find a theater group I could work with. The entrepreneur Kleber Santos had a Young Theater group and, by coincidence, the School of Architecture, which at that time was in Urca, had on the premises a good space. It was the open-air theater that had presented the first shows of bossa-nova. So the space already had a certain tradition and it was there, in agreement with the academic administration, that we began the rehearsals of Vianinha’s play. The cast was formed by the Young Theater group and, later, a few professionals from the Arena Theatre joined, as was the case of Joel Barcelos and Hugo Carvana. Further on, a group of architects also showed up and a cast of new actors was created.

The theater-in-the-round at the School of Architecture was a challenge from the very beginning because it could seat more than two thousand people, I believe, but we all agreed that a season there could be successful.
Vianinha’s play was a challenge because of its bold propositions. He intended to give an aesthetic vision of a social-political-economic theory of the process of the "surplus value", the mais valia, one of the fundamental bases of Marxist thought. For this, the author used a technique that oscillated between the didactic, based, without a doubt, on Bertolt Brecht, and on everything that the experiences of the Seminar of Dramaturgy of the Arena Theater in São Paulo and in Rio had stimulated. The final result of the text was a sequence of scenes that had as a central idea the social effect of the "surplus value." But the main action was quite varied. The scenes progressed, showing moments of the life of the common man crushed under the weight of the industrial process, alternating with scenes where the idea and the proposal of the "surplus value" were presented as formulas to be discovered and understood in their more profound essence.

There was music, and for that I invited Carlos Lyra, one of the initiators of the bossa nova movement, to compose the songs that Vianinha had created for the play. I understood that the theater-in-the-round at the School of Architecture, large as it was, should have a monumental scenery, and so a group of architecture students started to create a set 15 meters high with several stages. The musical group would occupy one, and sets were designed for the other stages. The play also took place at ground level. Then we thought about using film, and Léon Hirszman came to work with us. After film, we invented slides and we went on devising paraphernalia to such an extent that we wound up with a musical review.

The actors sang and danced in addition to delivering their lines. Of course, the rehearsal process was the result of study and discussions about the work and its origins. Carlos Estevão, at the time a philosophy student, took charge of devising some graphs for the communication of data important for the understanding of the proposal.
I, at that time, was inspired by Bertolt Brecht and Erwin Piscator. This coincided with Vianinha’s viewpoints, but I had, in addition, a personal quest for a theatre more accessible to a wide audience and I insisted on using a structure based on the musical reviews of the Praça Tiradentes. Out of this mixture, adding forms stratified by American cinema came the staging of the Mais-Valia.

In a short time, we had close to seventy people working on the production, with the group of actors composed of twenty people. Many had never worked in theater, others were amateurs and a few were professionals beginning their careers. Unity grew through the labor of rehearsal. A solid group was formed and remained as the support nucleus that withstood people who gave up and left during the production process, as is always the case in amateur groups.

The rehearsals were open to the public and little by little a constant audience began to develop which commented and discussed each path we were taking. We learned how to sing and to dance and we began to approach what would be the final format. After three months of rehearsal, Mais Valia opened with the open-air theater of the School of Architecture packed to overflowing. It was a shock, because we had only used the most precarious means of publicity. At the end of the premiere, there was a great deal of excitement and all signs indicated we had a success. I had removed Vianinha from the rehearsals and he saw the staging for the first time at the opening, with a full house. As a debuting and insecure director, I thought Vianinha’s presence at rehearsals could disturb my work. But I took to rehearsals my colleagues from Arena:: Flávio Migliaccio, Milton Gonçalves, Henrique César, Arnaldo Weiss, Nelson Xavier. We discussed with them and took advantage of ideas.

Vianinha didn't agree at first with the concept of the show; he had, of course, imagined many things much differently from that which he had seen. We had a few disagreements, but within a short time, he also decided to leave the Arena and assumed a roll in the production. I can never forget his tall, thin figure dancing in the theatre of the School of Architecture, dancing and singing and saying his lines in a total integration of author and actor.

The critics were divided and there was a prolonged debate between Paulo Francis and Miguel. Borges. But most accepted the show well. As for the public, at the worst time of year for theater, Mais Valia had an average of four hundred spectators, while some plays with some of the best professionals had runs of less than a month.
Mais Valia ran for about eight months, if I remember well.

From the production of that show, other ideas were born for popular theatre that later would be consubstantiated to some extent in the Popular Center of Culture of the UNE.

That was in 1960 and today to write this presentation, I consult my collection of newspaper and magazine clippings. I go back for an instant to a dynamic past. A longing causes a sequence of memories. I remember Vianinha and I remember our fights, stupidities and discussions. So many times we shouted our ideas to each other without reaching an agreement. We were in a period fervent with new proposals. Each of us had his own path, and yet our path was always the same. I remember each actor, each member of the team, in the fury to do theater, loving the work. We read a lot, we talked a lot, we worked a lot, and, without a doubt, we thought incessantly about a better world.

Chico de Assis

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