Saturday, May 4, 2019

South America - Females in Theatre and Drama in the 20th and 21st Century

South America – Females in Theatre and Drama in the 20th and 21st Century

Salvadora Medina Onrubia 

Salvadora Medina Onrubia was an Argentine playwright, poet, narrator, feminist and storyteller who was born in 1894 in La Plata in Argentina and died in 1972 in Buenos Aires. From the young age of 15, Onrubia embraced anarchist and feminist principles and she was a follower of Russian anarchist Simon Radowitzky. Much of her life and her writings were highly political and she was a regular contributor to La Nacion, El Hogar, Critica and Faces and Masks. She was arrested and imprisoned for many of her publications.

Onrubia’s dramatic writings were mostly written for children’s and youth theatre. Her work is often characterized as Thesis Drama since it uses debate and didactic techniques to further plot through argument. Her female characters both conform with and contrast tradition representations of females. Her 1914 play Almafuerte (‘Strong Soul’), explores life in the Buenos Aires’ slums and the way that females can both accept and question the roles society and circumstances designate them. Public health and the political aspects of everyday life are strong themes in her work. Although she only published a small number of plays, her work is significant in its style, content and form.

Claudia Piñeiro

Born in 1960 Claudia Piñeiro, is an Argentine playwright, novelist, crime write and screenwriter. She initially worked as an accountant before taking to writing. One of her first plays in 2004 was How much a refrigerator is worth. This piece examines domestic life and the stories that lie beneath domestic life. This was followed soon after by The Same Green Tree in 2006. Her later work has been described as dark and absurd in its humour and portrayal of the human condition. These works include Verona (2007), Morite, Fat (2008) and Three Old Pens (2009). As her popularity grew as a crime writer, Piñeiro has written very little work for the theatre. 

Ana Maria Gonçalves

Born in Ibiá, Minas Gerais in Brazil in 1970, Goncalves is a Brazilian playwright and screenwriter who has worked in Brazil and the United States of America. Her plays explore what it is like to live as a black woman in modern day societies like Brazil where racial and gender prejudice are prominent.

Her first dramas were written in 2001 and are the verse dramas Beside You - On the Edge of What You Feel for Me and A Defect of Colour. After working as a lecturer in race relations and also as a writer in residence at Tulane, Stanford and Middlebury, she returned to São Paulo in Brazil and in 2016 she wrote her most famous play Diverse. The play explores the relationship of a couple João and Márcia and their efforts to stray away from the prejudices of a racist and sexist society. Fortified by João (a black 28 year old), Márcia, a 40 years old and of mixed race, slowly begins to examine and reclaim her black roots. João must re-examine himself and whether he can cope with and not be intimidated by Márcia’s new sense of purpose and identity.

Goncalves’ plays and writings have been performed and published in many languages and many countries including Brazil, Portugal, the United States of America and Italy.

Cidinha da Silva 

Cidinha da Silva is the playwright and novelist from Brazil. Her play "Got pregnant, gave birth to horses and learned how to fly without wings" is a strong magic realism and surrealist drama revealing the daily routine of six black women who live in the same apartment building. They have no interaction nor do they know each other, however, their similar yearnings reveal the private truth of buried affections.

Cidinha is a prose writer and playwright from Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais. Author of 11 books, she chronicles the lives of adults and writes short stories and romance for children and adolescents. She organized two fundamental works on contemporary race relations in Brazil: Affirmative actions in education: Brazilian experiences (2003) (Ações afirmativas em educação: experiências brasileiras) and African racial relations: inputs for public policies of books, reading, literature and libraries in Brazil (2014) (Africanidades e relações raciais: insumos para políticas públicas na área do livro, leitura, literatura e bibliotecas no Brasil).

Marcia Zanelatto

Marcia Zanelatto is a Brazilian playwright and screenplay writer. Her most famous play is The Body’s Night. The plot of the play follows Clara and Isabel who are beautiful, young, talented, and in love. But the meaning of life is questioned when one of them is diagnosed with a degenerative disease. With the support of the doctor and friend, Paula, Isabel deals with the reality, finding new limitations of power and courage that she never thought she would have.

Zanelatto lives and works in Rio de Janeiro, where she writes for theatre, television and cinema, and teaches script writing. Her work often engages with ideas of racism, public security, and sexual and gender identity. She has received several awards, including the Brazil at Scene Award 2009 (Prêmio Brasil em Cena) for the play Time of Solitude (Tempo de Solidão), the Favelas Award from the Ford Foundation for the play They ain’t Got No (Eles não usam tênis naique); and the 2014 Theatre Producers Association of Rio de Janeiro Award (Prêmio APTR) for Best Author, with the play Frumpiness (Desalinho). In 2016, the Royal Exchange Theater, Manchester, UK, commissioned a new work for the Birth Festival, which resulted in her play The Birth Machine. Her work has been translated into English, Spanish, French and Swedish.

Ana Paula Arendt 

Ana Paula Arendt is a Brazilian playwright, screenplay writer, diplomat, poet and children’s book author who was born in 1980. She often writes under the pseudonym of R. P. Alencar. Her most famous play is the much awarded The Constituent which is a verse drama. 
Arendt was born in Rondonia in Brazil. She spent a significant part of her life living in Rio Branco where she lived with and was heavily influenced by the Indigenous Kaxarari tribes and clans. She eventually moved to São Paulo, Montevideo, and then Brasilia. Many of her plays are verse dramas concerned with issues of power, gender and the environment and much of her poetry is also is also performed. Much of her work is done in both Portuguese and French. Her plays and performed poetry include The Constituent (2015), Callista (2015), The Creation of Pindorama (Portuguese, 2015) and The Venerable Virtues of Men (2016).

References for South America – Females in Theatre and Drama in the 20th and 21st Century

Arendt, A.P. (2015). The Constituent. (English Edition). eBook: Ana Paula Arendt. Retrieved 2019-04-20.
Arendt, A.P. (2016). Callista. (English Edition). eBook: Ana Paula Arendt. Retrieved 2018-11-07.
Azougue. (2018). The Truth is a Daughter of the Lie. Azougue Editorial. Brazilian National Association of Writers. Retrieved April 12, 2019.

Evoé Collective. (2017). Meet the Playwrights of Female Voices from Brazil. Retrieved April 8, 2019 from

Farnsworth, M.S. (2017). Sex Work, Sickness, and Suicide: Argentine Feminist Theatre in the 1910s and 1920s. New York: Hemispheric Institute. Retrieved from


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  2. Thanks Gustavo. I will update it with more stuff as I get time. Glad you enjoyed it. You might also enjoy my Australian Indigenous Drama blog at
    or My Matter of Style blog (it has some of the women in theatre stuff repeated on it though).