The Word Dende (den-dê)

  1. n. in Portuguese dendê is the name of the bright orange palm oil used to enrich certain dishes, mainly used in the northeast region of Brazil. 

  2. Dendê is also used in the cooking of several dishes, which are offered to the Orixás, the Gods of the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé. In Candomblé dendê oil, leaves, bark, hail or seeds are used in the architecture, decoration of the temples, costumes, tools and other religious objects. 

  3. Dendê is also used in the manufacture of cosmetics, fuel, chocolate, candles, soap and a series of other products.

  4. In Capoeira, the Brazilian mixture of dance and martial arts developed by the slaves, dendê often means that a player has a special gift. 

Dende Collective

London-based theatre company Dende Collective was created in 1999 and most of our work to date has had a strong Brazilian flavour to it, and like the dishes cooked with the Dende oil, Dende Collective’s shows are a savoury feast, often with an international feel to them, bringing together a rich mixture of styles and visual elements.

Our work can take different shapes and forms: Brazilian plays in commissioned translations, adaptations, new plays, devised projects; and have been presented in theatres, on the streets and on specific sites - content dictates form.

Dende Collective also produces educational programs aimed at enhancing and encouraging the community and young people's involvement with live theatre, running a series of education activities in schools, art centres and community projects

Dende shows bring to the stage the exciting cultural mixture that makes London one of the most vibrant cities on the planet, attracting to the theatre a wide range of diverse audiences.

A Brief History

The beginning

Dende Collective was created from Andre Pink's desire to direct theatre in the UK after finishing his one-year training at Ecole Philippe Gaulier in 1997, which was in Kentish Town in London. It was not so easy to start. How does one go about making theatre away from your country when one doesn't have an understanding of the local theatre culture, how to book a theatre, market the work, etc? Andre approached Eduardo Bonito, a Brazilian friend who trained at the same university in São Paulo and had relocated to London before. He was a producer at Arts Admin then, looking after two dance companies La Ribot and Jules Jobin. Eduardo had also a theatre company in the UK and he mentored Andre in those early years in how to produce theatre in the UK. The project Brazilian Tales was created where 2 plays would be performed: Andre Pink would direct Dois Perdidos Numa Noite Suja by Plinio Marcos and Eduardo Bonito would direct A Serpente by Nelson Rodrigues. The name Dende Collective was born out of a brainstorm between Bonito, Pink and Mark O'Thomas who had translated A Serpente. Andre suggested the name dendê as a reference to capoeira where players who are both skilful and sly are said to "have dendê" in a meeting in 1999 and we use this year as the birth of the company. Brazilian Tales didn't come to fruition, but...

In 2000 we presented our first show Dois Perdidos Numa Noite Suja or TWO LOST SOULS ON A DIRTY NIGHT (as the translator Henrik Carbonier called it) at the Latchmere in Clapham (today Theatre 503) with the support of the Brazilian Embassy through the funding of its Brazil 500 Festival. That was a big event sponsored by the Brazilian Ministry of Culture that celebrated the 500th anniversary of the discovery of Brazil in the UK. 

VIVA MARIA! followed in 2001. Mark O'Thomas came to see TWO LOST SOULS and particularly enjoyed the entr'acte piece where the Brazilian actress Roberta Gonzalez, who trained at Gaulier with Andre, presented a bouffon piece mocking the Brazilian obsession with beauty. Mark wrote a play for Roberta to act and for Andre to direct: VIVA MARIA!, which was a double-bill and opened at the Oval House. Roberta's piece called TIA MARIA (half of VIVA MARIA!) had electric reviews at the Oval House.

Andre and Mark were together again and it was then that Mark became a Dende core member participating either as a playwright or dramaturg in most of the Dende shows till 2008. Montse Gili, who had trained with Andre at Gaulier and had been Andre's assistant in TWO LOST SOULS TO ON A DIRTY NIGHT re-joined the company more actively when the company started developing what would become its third show THE PIRANHA LOUNGE in 2003, becoming the third core member of the company.  Andre, Montse and Mark led the company together till 2008. Each one had a clear role then: Andre Pink - Director, Montse Gili - Producer and Actress and Mark O'Thomas - Playwright, Dramaturg and Translator.

The Oval & Lyric Years

In 2002 we developed and opened THE PIRANHA LOUNGE in the Oval House, which sold out and was Time Out Critic's choice. This show had a second sold-out run at Oval House in 2003 and Dende was invited to become an associate theatre company of this theatre and our work was featured in the Arts Council Decibel booklet Promoting Diversity. The show returned once again for some presentations at The Bull (now Arts Depot) and in 2004 The PIRANHA LOUNGE had a third run at the Lyric Hammersmith, where we started a fruitful relationship, which led to being part of the MIX, a decisive step in our development as a company.

At the end of 2003, we presented OneFourSeven at The Oval House. This was a collaboration between Mark O'Thomas and a very eclectic group of actors, a devised piece about waiting rooms. In 2005 Dende toured this show with the support of an Arts Council Grant, Lyric Hammersmith and Oval House, across the UK. 

In 2006 we performed DONA FLOR AND HER TWO HUSBANDS  by Brazilian novelist Jorge Amado at the Lyric the Mix season with the support of an Arts Council Grant, the Brazilian Embassy, Varig, Parasol and BCA. It also marked our first project with Contact Theatre in Manchester with their young people company CYAC (CLUB PIRANHA). 

2007 was a very intense year for the company producing two different projects, AGRESTE/DRYLANDS by Brazilian writer Newton Moreno and LUNA CLUB with the Lyric Young Company, based on short stories by Chilean writer Isabel Allende. 

In 2006 we started working on adapting the Brazilian novel Macunaíma to the theatre. In this project, we collaborated with different artists from different media involving different organisations over 2 years creating a magical ever-changing world mixing elements of puppetry and digital animation.  This investigation had 6 stages and led to the creation of THE MACUNAÍMA CYCLE. During this process, we collaborated with Festival Encuentros Latino Americanos, The Little Angel, South Hill Park, Oval House and the Lyric Hammersmith. In 2008 after 2 years of intense research in the project, we added a sixth instalment to the cycle, with sold-out performances at the Lyric Hammersmith Studio. 

In 2008 Dende Collective also went outdoors with a commission for the OUT THERE! Festival in Great Yarmouth producing a large street theatre extravaganza, involving members of the community and professional artists under the name of C-ATTACK! Finally, we directed the Christmas Show at Contact Theatre in Manchester, devising with CYAC a story based on traditional Japanese ghost tales, KWAIDAN. 

From 2009 to 2011 Dende returned every year to the Eastbrookend Country Park in Dagenham where we were commissioned to direct the street theatre show SPOOKTACULAR celebrating Halloween involving professional actors, one storyteller and volunteers from the community. 

Montse and Andre shared the role of artistic directors from 2008 to 2010 and in 2010 after 9 years of actively working with Dende Montse Gili left the company. 

New Beginning

Once again the company is under the leadership of  Andre Pink. 

In 2013 we returned to Manchester and Contact Theatre to create LA BIBLIOTECA with CYAC, a site-specific show for the John Rylands Library using Commedia dell'Arte. 

In 2014 we started working on our first show for children and young people: I.F., an adaptation of a short story by Paul Basset-Davies and in October Dende participated in RED LIKE EMBERS at Theatre 503 where Andre Pink directed one of the 3 monologues that make the play FLUXORAMA by Jô Bilac, a Brazilian maverick playwright, whose work had never been premiered in the UK. 

In 2015 Dende produced the mini-tour of FLUXORAMA to Southend taking the 3 monologues that made the play to the Clifftown Theatre in January and participated in NEWVOLUTIONS at LPAC in Lincoln, this venue's season of work-in-progress. We started creating a new show THE PASSION OF PEDRO CAMACHO loosely inspired by the novel Aunt Julia and The Scriptwriter by the Peruvian writer Mario Vargas Llosa. This was the first time that Andre Pink and Mark O'Thomas collaborated on a project together since AGRESTE/ DRYLANDS