The Macunaíma Cycle

A Series of Devised Events based on a novel - in development

Imagine a Brazilian Lewis Caroll on acid narrating an epic saga of a hero without morals!

The Macunaíma Cycle has been created with the association of South Hill Park Bracknell, Festival Encuentros Latinoamericanos, The Little Angel Theatre, Oval House Theatre and Lyric Hammersmith. With the kind support of Arts Council England and the Brazilian Embassy in London.

​This project is still in development. It has had six lives so far and it might have a seventh soon…

Based on Mário de Andrade’s seminal 1928 novel Macunaíma- o herói sem nenhum caráter. Since July 2006 we have been developing The Macunaíma Cycle through a series of workshops & public events and various months of intensive research in different fields and with different collaborators. Our aim is to investigate how to adapt this iconic Brazilian Modernist novel from the 1920s to a contemporary context involving different artists, institutions and artforms, and how to feed directly from our educational work into our artistic process.

Mário de Andrade’s seminal 1928 novel Macunaíma- o herói sem nenhum caráter is Brazil’s greatest 20th century epic and a touchstone of the Brazilian Modernist movement. It was adapted into a film by Joaquim Pedro de Andrade in 1969 and is seen as a satirical view on Brazilian society and morals.

There have been 6 R&D's so far...

  • R&D1 - August 2006:
  • R&D2 - 2- 7 April 2007:
  • R&D3 - 16 - 21 July 2007: Visuals: Puppetry. 
  • R&D4 -
  • Dende went high tech for the first time. We played with different ideas on how to use projections and digital animation to tell the story. At times we had five projectors working simultaneously!
  • R&D5 - 8 December 2007: Writing and Sharing the Story. First Bites - Oval House, London
  • R&D6 - 12, 13 and 14 June 2008:  The Modernists. Lyrics First - Lyric Hammersmith, London

The Story

Macunaíma, a native Brazilian from the Amazon, was born black and fully-grown amongst his red-skinned people, becomes white and blond and finally black again; his transformations symbolising all the races that constitute the Brazilian people. We follow the misadventures of Macunaíma from miraculous birth to death, especially as he chases after his lost amulet, given to him by the queen of the Amazons before she became a star. He takes us on fantastic journeys through rivers, jungles, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, all of Brazil. With him we encounter a shrewd Peruvian entrepreneur (who in reality is a cannibal giant), collect swear words, sail with the Sun and discover how the Moon was created. Through it all, our scoundrel-hero remains staunchly irreverent and immoral, leaving his conscience behind when he could, a true champion of hedonistic carnal pleasures. Mário de Andrade weaves native Brazilian tales, myths and folklore from different regions with his own imagination and elements from European avant-garde to produce a unique novel that had an influential impact on Brazilian culture (Tropicalismo, Caetano Veloso, Cinema Novo, Hélio Oiticica etc).

The Author

Mário de Andrade (1893-1945) was a Brazilian poet, novelist, musicologist, art historian and critic, and photographer. One of the founders of Brazilian modernism, he virtually created modern Brazilian poetry with the publication of Paulicéia Desvairada (Hallucinated City) in 1922. He has had an enormous influence on Brazilian literature in the 20th and 21st centuries, and as a scholar and essayist - he was a pioneer of the field of ethnomusicology - his influence has reached far beyond Brazil. After working as a music professor and newspaper columnist he published his great novel, Macunaíma, in 1928.