Palmares is a wonder of sight and sound with a history lesson thrown in.
Above all, as produced by the Brazil Brazil Cultural Center at LA’s Fringe Festival, the almost mythological region represents an origin story for aspects of Brazilian culture that exists today and serves as another brilliant contribution to the eclectic array of offerings at the Fringe this year.
As created by writer Vayabobo, with direction by Maurice Shaw, Palmares is brought to life on the bare mainstage at the Broadwater Theater by a large cast underscored by evocative music led by music director George Karpasitis.
During the 17th century, the idea as well as the place known as Palmares was infused with a religious belief system brought by Central and West African slaves. Orishas, deities inhabiting and interacting with humanity, provided the framework for the creation of a collection of villages carved out of the Brazilian jungle by a motley collection of escapees, indigenous residents, and renegades. The real power, then, rested in the priestess (played by Felicia “Onyi” Richards) to divine the will of Ogun, Shango and the other deities.
Overseen by Ganga Zumba (Amen Santo), a benevolent “king,” these sanctuaries welcomed anyone who could find them deep in the jungle. But the colonial Portuguese considered this outpost to be a threat, and accordingly set out to destroy it, successfully pitting Zumbi (Philipos Haile), one of their own, against them.
All this plays out before our eyes in the mesmerizing dance-martial art of capoeira, accompanied by none other than the incomparable Val Boa Morte and the other musicians.
There is only one more performance at Fringe, but I’m looking forward to another iteration of this spectacular production very soon!
Palmares has one more performance on Saturday, June 25th at 1 pm at the Broadwater Main Stage, 1076 Lillian Way, Hollywood CA 90038. For this event, go to: http://hollywoodfringe.org/projects/5543. For more information about the play contact Nayla Santo, email@example.com.