Brincante Body: the travesti presence in the performances of the Reisado quilombos1 1 Research conducted with the support of CAPES-PROEX.

Ribamar José de Oliveira JuniorAbout the author

RESUMO

Este artigo analisa a performance dos quilombos de Reisado a partir da presença travesti na cultura popular de Juazeiro do Norte, região do Cariri, interior do Ceará. No objetivo de refletir sobre a performance e suas formas animadas, considera-se uma das passagens da cartografia que segue em curso pelas dissidências sexuais e de gênero nos Reisados cearenses, em que se acompanhou o quilombo do grupo Sagrada Família entre a performance de gênero e a animação da brincadeira. Por meio da rota de uma das primeiras Mestras travestis, aponta-se o encantravar do corpo brincante como caminho para, nas espirais do tempo brincado, louvar o corpo travesti.

Palavras-chave:
Corpo; Reisado; Travesti; Performance; Quilombo

RÉSUMÉ

L’article analyse la performance du Reisado quilombos à partir de la présence travesti dans la culture populaire de Juazeiro do Norte, région de Cariri, intérieur du Ceará. Afin de réfléchirsurla performance et ses formes animées, ilconsidèreundespassages de la cartographie qui suit les dissidences sexuelles et de genredansles Reisados de Ceará, dans le quelle quilombo du groupe Sagrada Família a été suivi entre la performance de genre et l’animation de la brincadeira. A travers le parcours d’unedes premiers maîtres travestis, l’encantravamento du corps brincante est pointé comme une manière, dans les spirales du temps brincado, de faire l’éloge du corps travesti.

Mots-clés:
Corps; Reisado; Travesti; Performance; Quilombo

ABSTRACT

This article analyzes the performance of the Reisado quilombos from the travesti presence in the popular culture of Juazeiro do Norte, Cariri region, in the countryside of Ceará. In order to reflect on the performance and its animated forms, we consider one of the passages from the cartography that flows through sexual and gender dissidences in Ceará’s Reisados, in which we follow the quilombo of the Sagrada Família group between the performance of gender and the animation of the game. Using the route of one of the first travesti Maestras, we point to the encantravar of the brincante body as a way to praise the travesti body, in the spirals of time played.

Keywords:
Body; Reisado; Travesti; Performance; Quilombo

To Rayanny Gomes (in memoriam), for the gatherings of Kings in life.

Who taught me swordplay?

The first time I ever held a Reisado sword in my hands was in the João Cabral neighborhood, in the city of Juazeiro do Norte, Cariri region, in the interior of Ceará. It was January 12, 2019, and I was in the living room of Maestra Lúcia, a 41-year-old woman, while a travesti was teaching me one of the simplest swordplay moves. Sitting on the sofa, Maestra Lúcia was watching the brincante2 2 ‘Brincante’ is a term often used to refer to the people who participate in popular traditions in Brazil. In the case of the Reisado, the playing is highlighted by the infantile universe of the expression itself, in which the ‘brincantes’ join the groups when they are still children. By discussing unique issues of LGBTQIA+ experiences, I consider the power of the term in dialoguing with the inclusive language of gender as it does not solely pertain to the masculine or feminine, although some ‘brincantes’ call themselves brincadores, due to a derived function in the action of work within the culture. (player) Mellysa Giselly, 29 years old, better known in the community as Pinto, lead me with her eyes closed and legs crossed. “I’m going to steer, I'm going to steer you. Now it’s your turn, you hit it, you strike through, you get it? That’s one ponto already!”3 3 Interview with Mellysa Giselly on January 12, 2019, in Juazeiro do Norte/CE. , Mellysa said referring to the ponto, one of the first blows she learned from Francisco Novaes, 66, better known as Maestre Nena, the brincante of whom she considers herself a disciple since she learned swordplay from him as a child. After this first encounter, a little after the 2019-2020 Ciclo de Reis (Cycle of Kings), which had taken place in the last week, a period dated by the Christmas festivities in the municipal calendar, between December 25-31 and January 6, I was affected by both the weight of the sword and Pinto’s steering. I say this because, if one day I become a Reisado brincante, I would be a disciple of a Black travesti who makes of popular culture a search for herself, as a pilgrim of Padre Cícero and consecrated by Our Lady of the Conception.

In a certain way, I kept thinking about my lack of expertise in envivecer (wielding) the sword. However, I cannot fail to highlight the affections intersected by this research, which has been in development for approximately six years, in the methodological horizon of sentimental cartography (Rolnik, 1989ROLNIK, Suely. Cartografia sentimental: transformações contemporâneas do desejo. São Paulo: Estação Liberdade, 1989.), regarding sexual and gender dissidences in the tradition of the Reisados in Ceará. Although I began it through the reading of a specific group, from 2016 to 2018, based on a monographic study about the experience of Francisca da Silva, 58 years old, better known as Tica4 4 For a more in-depth vision of Tica’s experience as queen in the Reisados, see Oliveira Junior (2019) and Oliveira Junior and Fortes (2020). , a transsexual brincante who first took on the role of Queen in 2015 in the Reisado do Master Dedé in the Frei Damião neighborhood, I followed the flows of the game through other neighborhoods of Juazeiro do Norte that are attended by LGBTQIA+5 5 LGBTQIA+ is the acronym used for lesbian, gay, bisexual, travesti, transsexual or transgender, queer, intersex and asexual. people. This was the case of the João Cabral neighborhood, accompanied from 2019 to 2020, and seen as the location in the city that has the most travestis, transsexuals, transgenders, bisexuals, drag queens6 6 I highlight the term drag queen in these accompanied experiences, in which we notice the presence of the brincantes Emilly and Evellyn, who in 2019 performed drag art, in ensemble as artists who imitate a female character on stage in a hyperbolic way, alongside the participation in the tradition of the Reisado. In 2022, the brincantes continue in the process of gender transition, being recognized as trans youth in the Beija-flor group. , lesbians and gays in the Reis procession. From 2021 to 2022, I made the city of Juazeiro do Norte the starting point to continue this cartography in Ceará, going from the South to the North axis of the state, in order to go through the cities that have a record of the event, looking to weave a constellation map of a Reisado to come.

As such, this article is part of a pause at one of the points of cartography, particularly given the trip from the last quilombo7 7 A type of performance played in the streets, in which the group moves from one place to another, in pilgrimage, with singing, duels and dances, involving improvisation conducted by the Master. which I joined in Juazeiro do Norte on July 14, 2019. Along with the researcher and educator Bárbara Tenório, who was with me on the playful route of the quilombo, I reflect on the theater as enchantment and its animated forms. Reopening field notebooks, rehearing the sounds of the performance, and reviewing images of the performance made me think that the Reisado is incarnated in the body as an enchanted presence among the affections of play. In this sense, I agree with Deleuze and Guattari (1992)DELEUZE; Gilles; GUATTARI, Félix. O que é filosofia?. Rio de Janeiro: Ed. 34, 1992. about the manifestation being a block of sensations in itself, in which the happening is made through fabulation, awakening sensations in the scene’s intertwining. “It is of all art that one would have to say: the artist is a displayer of affections, an inventor of affections, a creator of affections, in relation to the percepts or the visions he gives us” (Deleuze; Guattari, 1992DELEUZE; Gilles; GUATTARI, Félix. O que é filosofia?. Rio de Janeiro: Ed. 34, 1992., p. 227). In these affections, I asked Barbara a question that moves me in this work: what makes the sword animate the brincante body? To answer this, she recalled her research, carried out with the women’s group Guerreiras Joana D'arc of Mestra Margarida Guerreira (Joan of Arc Warriors of Maestra Marguerite). Bárbara commented that she noticed something in the field and turned my question back to me when she said that the “sword comes to life in the game, but not every game gives life to the sword”. She illustrated this by mentioning how much she admired Deborah Pinheiro, 28 years old, one of the brincantes to whom I was introduced by Bárbara.

Deborah, a lesbian and warrior, told me an important phrase when recalling how she had learned swordplay. Since she had learned from men, she explained that she “plays like a manly goat”8 8 Interview with Deborah Pinheiro on March 13, 2019, in Juazeiro do Norte/CE. . In fact, in 2019, when I saw Deborah dueling on stage at Núcleo de Arte Educação e Cultura Marcos Jussier (Marcos Jussier Center for Art Education and Culture), located in the Pirajá neighborhood, on the very same day she introduced me to Germano Pereira, 30, a gay brincante who performs as a player in the Reisados, I was looking more at the sword than at her. Following on from how Bárbara said that the sword becomes even more alive when wielded by the brincante, it is worth thinking about how this act derives from a gesture capable of affirming difference, exhausting the possibility itself in the swordplay. “To exhaust words, it is necessary to refer them to the Others who pronounce them, or rather, who emit them, secrete them, following flows that sometimes mix and sometimes distinguish themselves” (Deleuze, 2010, p. 23DELEUZE, Gilles. Sobre o teatro. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 2010.). It is interesting to observe how, in the speech of the Maestras and the Masters, the presence of LGBTQIA+ brincantes in the city’s Reisados appears as something recent, such as in the last 10 to 15 years, in which this participation in the groups became more visible, despite being questioned by the religious devotion of the game or by the imaginary of their supposed tradition, in the view that these enactments could demoralize the meanings of popular culture.

In this sense, I am interested in discussing this presence as something that comes from an undefined imaginary about the playful performance. In the terms of Icle (2011)ICLE, Gilberto. Estudos da Presença: prolegômenos para a pesquisa das práticas performativas. Revista Brasileira de Estudos da Presença, Porto Alegre, UFRGS, v. 1, n. 1, p. 9-27, jul./dez. 2011., I think how it is able to indicate a sense of what escapes the playing, that is, it does not fit into language, because if presence is always a movement, travestis move tradition with the effect of their participation in the groups. “Presence, then, configures a forgotten dimension of our culture” (Icle, 2011ICLE, Gilberto. Estudos da Presença: prolegômenos para a pesquisa das práticas performativas. Revista Brasileira de Estudos da Presença, Porto Alegre, UFRGS, v. 1, n. 1, p. 9-27, jul./dez. 2011., p. 19). Based on this, I seek to problematize Barroso’s (2013)BARROSO, Oswald. Teatro como encantamento: bois e reisados de caretas. Fortaleza: Armazém Cultural, 2013. notion of theater as enchantment, woven into Artaud’s vision, which shows how people in tradition are enchanted in the embodiment of a playful figure and disenchanted in the return to everyday life. Although the author mentions that the presence of women tends to grow in the groups, he does not address anywhere in his cartography through the Reisados of Ceará the presence of LGBTQIA+ brincantes. In this way, I think about how dissident bodies are moved and joined in action during the performance, for example the animation theater that traverses the trans body in the playing. “These characters are taken from the brincantes in a process of enchantment and disenchantment, that is, the brincante, with the help of the Master, disenchants the figure or the in-between that lives hidden in him or her or enchants him or herself in the figure” (Barroso, 2013BARROSO, Oswald. Teatro como encantamento: bois e reisados de caretas. Fortaleza: Armazém Cultural, 2013., p. 385).

Throughout the article, I show how the movement generated by the presence of a travesti body in the Reisado mobilizes movements and resignifies spaces, mainly in the outcropping between the self and the other, that is, through the “double that provokes the transformations” (Amaral, 1996AMARAL, Ana Maria. Teatro de formas animadas. São Paulo: Edusp, 1996., p. 194). In the relationship between the notions of animant (Waszkiel, 2019WASZKIEL, Halina. Teatro de Formas Animadas. Móin-Móin, Florianópolis, Udesc, v. 2, n. 21, p. 208-221, dez. 2019.) and gender performance (Butler, 2020BUTLER, Judith. Corpos que importam: os limites discursivos do “sexo”. São Paulo: n-1 edições, 2020.), one sees that if gender is performative, the effect of these LGBTQIA+ presences in the Reisado demonstrates that not only the game, but gender itself can be improvised in performance. Therefore, the quilombo can be interpreted as a performance that coats the current time with animations that actualize the staged rite, since the travesti presence enunciates the “palavra-rizoma” (word-rhizome) (Martins, 1997MARTINS, Leda. Afrografias da memória: o reinado do rosário do Jatobá. São Paulo: Perspectiva, 1997.) with the force of the sword that rips identities and marks bodies. In these travesti fabulations, Leal (2021)LEAL, Dodi Tavares Borges. Fabulações travestis sobre o fim. Conceição/Conception, Campinas, Unicamp, v. 10, n. 1, p. 1-19, maio, 2021. enables me to rethink the theater as enchantment of the Reisado in a drift of theater as encantravamento (enchantment/travesti) in which the travesti existence makes the enchantment a way of inventing tradition as mutation of itself. In Pinto’s own words, it would be worth thinking how the surprise occurs in the middle of the quilombo, that is, how it enchants to animate a part of itself that is thrown into the unknown in the street.

Brincante theater and its animated forms: enchanted afrographies9 9 Afrografias is a term by Martins (1997) that seeks to relate rite and memory through the Black Diasporas, especially through the writings of what can be seen as oralitura in the plot of tradition that gets tangled up in the threads of memory and forgetfulness in the body.

Based on Artaud’s (1993)ARTAUD, Antonin. O teatro e seu duplo. São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 1993. vision of culture as a refined means of understanding and exercising life, one can see that brincante theater uses several languages summoned by the body to produce its manifestations as a spectacle of life wrapped in magic. In this way, when he tries to abandon the word, the author highlights the enchantment through vibrations and rhythms that in the theater “aims to exalt, exacerbate, enchant, and hold the sensibility” (Artaud, 1993ARTAUD, Antonin. O teatro e seu duplo. São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 1993., p. 77). When mentioning Artaudian theater, Amaral (1996)AMARAL, Ana Maria. Teatro de formas animadas. São Paulo: Edusp, 1996. talks about how theater awakens images captured by the senses, especially when a word comes closer to a sensation received through an image. In the theatrical language, the author explains that Animation Theater is not expressed only by the playing body, nor by words, but in the entanglement between forms, symbols, images, and metaphors when tracing a route from the invisible to the visible. By including objects, masks and puppets in their multiple meanings, starting from their respective theatrical genres, Animation Theater acquires its own characteristics and constitutes itself as a theater of animated forms.

If masks are faces in search of a body or beings in search of a soul, can we say that the swords in the Reisado are movements in search of enchantment? As such, I reflect on what Amaral (1996)AMARAL, Ana Maria. Teatro de formas animadas. São Paulo: Edusp, 1996. has to say about objects that have energy as symbols, with the art of transforming them being the very act of dramatization in the creation of the characters. The body communicates and, so to speak, plays. “The theater of animated forms has affinities with performance, since its shows are based on the performer” (Amaral, 1996AMARAL, Ana Maria. Teatro de formas animadas. São Paulo: Edusp, 1996., p. 244). Among these animated forms, the traditional Congos theater stands out from what Barroso (1997)BARROSO, Oswald. Teatro popular tradicional: Reis de Congo. Fortaleza: Minc/MIS, 1997. classifies in its emergence among the cultural manifestations of Maracatus, Taiêiras, Cucumbis and Congadas, especially due to its elements of European, African and Amerindian origin that generated the Reisados, the Guerreiros and the Bumba-meu-boi. When referring to the historical facts permeated by Quilombo dos Palmares, he points out that the procession events in quilombos consist of battles and disputes over queens, these acts being one of the highest points in the Reisado performances, characterized by the moment when two groups meet in the street.

According to Barroso (1997)BARROSO, Oswald. Teatro popular tradicional: Reis de Congo. Fortaleza: Minc/MIS, 1997., the Congo Reisado can be seen as an African-motivated dramatized folklore that evokes the birth of the baby Jesus on top of the Three Wise Men’s pilgrimage, whose moments of commemoration disseminated relationships between the fictional monarchy and elements of the Portuguese court in Brazil. In reference to the Kings of Congo from Ceará, the author emphasizes that the theatrical dance has a multiple structure, from “[...] the sugar mills of the sugar cane society in colonial Brazil, as well as in the processions of cowboys and tangerines that accompanied the transport of cattle from the sertão to the fairs” (Barroso, 1997BARROSO, Oswald. Teatro popular tradicional: Reis de Congo. Fortaleza: Minc/MIS, 1997., p. 84). It is interesting to note the relationship between the Congo Kings of Ceará in Barroso (1997)BARROSO, Oswald. Teatro popular tradicional: Reis de Congo. Fortaleza: Minc/MIS, 1997. with the Reinado do Jatobá of Minas Gerais in Martins (1997)MARTINS, Leda. Afrografias da memória: o reinado do rosário do Jatobá. São Paulo: Perspectiva, 1997., especially because of the intertwining of what can be seen in the lacunar choreography of memory. In these storylines, related by a language ritual staged through songs and statements, we find dialogues between a Black kingdom that traverses repertoires in the nuances of words, gestures, and the enchantments immanent in the signifying materiality of the festivities.

In this manner, the acts of speech and the performances unveil themselves in an oralitura10 10 Oralitura is also a term of Martins’ (2002) to designate knowledge permeated by performance that goes beyond literature, drawing routes through cultural manifestations in orality and the path of the body as a place of memory. (oral reading) that stamps the subject in the territory composed and erased by the enunciation of the narrative, in the epiphany of language that makes the immanent being an apparition capable of revealing the non-forgetfulness as breath for the named brincante presence. “In the circuit of tradition, which keeps the ancestral word, and in that of transmission, which updates it and moves it in the present, the word is blowing, breath, diction, event and performance, index of wisdom” (Martins, 1997MARTINS, Leda. Afrografias da memória: o reinado do rosário do Jatobá. São Paulo: Perspectiva, 1997., p. 146, original emphasis). From these afrographies of memory, Martins (2002)MARTINS, Leda. Performances do tempo espiralar. In: ARBEX, Márcia; RAVETTI, Graciela (Org.). Performance, exílio, fronteiras: errâncias territoriais e textuais. Belo Horizonte: Ed. UFMG, 2002. P. 69-92. talks about how the rite evokes a lost and found place, perennially transcribed by the performance, in the measure in which the body bends to the gesture. Here, the gesture is not only narrative or descriptive, but performative, in which Black culture as a place of crossroads emerges from intersecting processes of performance and popular worldviews. “It thus becomes possible to read the pendular gesture between the lines of the fabular enunciation [...]” (Martins, 2002MARTINS, Leda. Performances do tempo espiralar. In: ARBEX, Márcia; RAVETTI, Graciela (Org.). Performance, exílio, fronteiras: errâncias territoriais e textuais. Belo Horizonte: Ed. UFMG, 2002. P. 69-92., p. 81).

The fable is a way of configuring the rite of passage from the situation posed to another direction, that is, the ritual regains the ancestrality, in which both time and space become mirror images. As performative palimpsests, the gestures of oral reading between body and voice draw the performance as a site of knowledge in continuous recreation, whose corporality drifts into props and engenders in some other time. Spiral time inhabits the present and the future as sites of experiences in the still and the already is. According to Pavis (2008)PAVIS, Patrice. O teatro no cruzamento de culturas. São Paulo: Perspectiva, 2008., when talking about culture and its doubles, theatrical staging can be viewed at the intersection of cultures, mainly because of the way it interrogates the contexts of cultural representations and appropriates them. The act of staging would seem to be a result of the concretization of new enunciations, bearing in mind what is about to happen. In the Reisado performances, the presence of the body that plays offers paths that lead to the initial question: what is the brincante presence?

Regarding the performed work and the relation with its meaning, Icle (2011, p. 15)ICLE, Gilberto. Estudos da Presença: prolegômenos para a pesquisa das práticas performativas. Revista Brasileira de Estudos da Presença, Porto Alegre, UFRGS, v. 1, n. 1, p. 9-27, jul./dez. 2011. provides an important perspective on Presence Studies that offers a horizon to consider the brincante body. “Presence, moreover, can allude to something invisible or vanished that becomes present. Therefore, objects, places, and beings can have a presence, the presence of something invisible.” The very word brincante unlocks the senses of the performance quality of those who play, because when the performed quilombo is seen, the arts of presence appear as a magical vibration of enchantment. The presence of the travesti body in the quilombo may demand the construction of another language of play, created by the possibility of its existence through its own effects of presence, which invoke the experience of signifying another temporality. As Ferracini and Puccetti (2011)FERRACINI, Renato; PUCCETTI, Ricardo. Presença em acontecimentos. Revista Brasileira de Estudos da Presença, Porto Alegre, UFRGS, v. 1, n. 2, p. 360-369, jul./dez. 2011. point out, concerning the presence that is completed with the audience, the performance of the quilombo and the body of those who play is perceived from what can be seen as presence-event-spectacle that mobilizes the poetic plane and the experience.

“Through daily training, the actor, as the craftsman that he is, builds himself each day, confronting himself, with his strengths and weaknesses” (Ferracini; Puccetti, 2011FERRACINI, Renato; PUCCETTI, Ricardo. Presença em acontecimentos. Revista Brasileira de Estudos da Presença, Porto Alegre, UFRGS, v. 1, n. 2, p. 360-369, jul./dez. 2011., p. 361). In its porosity and openness, the brincante body materializes not only through the magic of the rite in the act of being enchanted, but through the materiality of the performative encounter that reveals the power as differentiation of itself. In Fabião’s (2008)FABIÃO, Eleonora. Performance e teatro: poéticas e políticas da cena contemporânea. Sala Preta, São Paulo, USP, v. 8, p. 235-246, nov. 2008. terms, performative actions are programs, so that one does not improvise an idea, but creates programs to perform, activating the experience as an action in itself. Programs announce bodies as open relational systems, that is, the performer makes a body evident, he makes the body-world evident. “Performers are, first and foremost, cultural complicators” (Fabião, 2008FABIÃO, Eleonora. Performance e teatro: poéticas e políticas da cena contemporânea. Sala Preta, São Paulo, USP, v. 8, p. 235-246, nov. 2008., p. 237, original italics). Accordingly, Barroso (2013)BARROSO, Oswald. Teatro como encantamento: bois e reisados de caretas. Fortaleza: Armazém Cultural, 2013. treats the Reisado as a nomadic, ambulant and procession theater that, through a great walk, weaves a narrative without beginning or end in the endless search for utopia, in which the show depends on a fixed group to sequence dramatizations and dances.

Hence, it is through Alcure’s (2019)ALCURE, Adriana Schneider. Rir de si: comicidade, política e a noção de “brincadeira”. Moringa, João Pessoa, UFPB, v. 10, n. 2, p. 151-172, jun./dez. 2019. thoughts on laughing at oneself that I frame the notion of brincadeira (gameplay) based on sexual and gender dissidences in enchanted theater. Starting from the hypothesis that the notion of brincadeira is one of the fundamental pieces to understand a certain popular ethos in Brazil, Alcure (2019)ALCURE, Adriana Schneider. Rir de si: comicidade, política e a noção de “brincadeira”. Moringa, João Pessoa, UFPB, v. 10, n. 2, p. 151-172, jun./dez. 2019. shows how the term can constitute itself as an effective field of resistance, given the view of the historically hegemonic sociocultural mechanisms of exclusion. Between ritual and politics, the author risks saying that the brincadeira carries an epic power that, in an intentional way, is political because the spectators, in the toys, distribute in themselves the means of playing. “To practice the state of brincadeira, as I have understood it, is to experience a fluidity between art and life, relating play, presence, listening, memory, and ancestrality” (Alcure, 2019ALCURE, Adriana Schneider. Rir de si: comicidade, política e a noção de “brincadeira”. Moringa, João Pessoa, UFPB, v. 10, n. 2, p. 151-172, jun./dez. 2019., p. 161).

As a collective practice of sharing through what is commonly held as tradition, one can see that the brincante person avails of artistic languages in a hybrid way, producing what Alcure (2019)ALCURE, Adriana Schneider. Rir de si: comicidade, política e a noção de “brincadeira”. Moringa, João Pessoa, UFPB, v. 10, n. 2, p. 151-172, jun./dez. 2019. calls another epistemology for the performance, in the exercise of decolonizing sensibilities. In the face of the exclusion and illegibility of the sexually and gender dissident body in the field of politics and art, taking into account the collective potential of the gameplay, it is worth considering how the travesti presence evokes the state of play and the relationship between animated forms and gender performance in brincante theater. By taking into account Waszkiel’s (2019)WASZKIEL, Halina. Teatro de Formas Animadas. Móin-Móin, Florianópolis, Udesc, v. 2, n. 21, p. 208-221, dez. 2019. reflections on the terms animant and animated form, I attempt to seek nuances between the body of the brincante person and the dimension of gender theatricality in view of Butler’s (2020)BUTLER, Judith. Corpos que importam: os limites discursivos do “sexo”. São Paulo: n-1 edições, 2020. ideas. In reference to the term animation, Waszkiel (2019)WASZKIEL, Halina. Teatro de Formas Animadas. Móin-Móin, Florianópolis, Udesc, v. 2, n. 21, p. 208-221, dez. 2019. denotes, with the coined term animant, a performative figure, that is, an aesthetic object that constructs a metaphor, which brings the brincante person to the stage and appears to the spectators as a kind of performative third element.

Hence, in the performance, one must put part of one’s own life into the actions of the object, even more than into one’s own actions. In this way, if animant refers to any object, material or immaterial, which is submitted to the process of animation on stage, the animated form appears defined in the performance through another scenic presence besides the body that plays. The construction of a protagonist borders on animation matter (people), inanimate matter (objects, costumes, and props), and animated matter (animants). In the performance, a new entity is created from its physical body, its gestures or its expression. “The theater of animated forms teaches us to empathize with beings that are different from us” (Waszkiel, 2019WASZKIEL, Halina. Teatro de Formas Animadas. Móin-Móin, Florianópolis, Udesc, v. 2, n. 21, p. 208-221, dez. 2019., p. 220). In view of this, if those who play are able to lend a piece of their life to an object invented by intentional actions that lead to the emergence of an illusion of objects that move, speak, and take attitudes, it is worth highlighting the recognition of the tension between the real and the fiction of the brincante act in creative processes through transformation and experience through gender performance.

Concerning the theatricality of gender, Butler (2020)BUTLER, Judith. Corpos que importam: os limites discursivos do “sexo”. São Paulo: n-1 edições, 2020. says that gender is neither a purely psychic truth, nor is it reducible to a superficial appearance, that is, it has a fluctuating character that must be qualified as a game between the psyche itself and appearance. By mentioning that the reduction of performativity to performance is a mistake, the author explains that in no way does the part of gender that is performed constitute the truth of gender, because, if performativity consists in the reiteration of the norms that precede it, performance is delimited to the act. Based on the term animant in Waszkiel (2019)WASZKIEL, Halina. Teatro de Formas Animadas. Móin-Móin, Florianópolis, Udesc, v. 2, n. 21, p. 208-221, dez. 2019., defined as inanimate matter, and the issue of performativity in Butler (2020)BUTLER, Judith. Corpos que importam: os limites discursivos do “sexo”. São Paulo: n-1 edições, 2020., taken as something that exceeds the subject, which cannot be seen as the will, but as what appears acted and not performative, I wonder about the link between stage performance and gender performance that animates the new entity that emerges on stage. After all, the brincante body creates a protagonist that differs from it as an individual, but its gendered performance can allegorize the element as a loss of self in this process of animation.

This seems relevant considering that what we see performatized in the practice of LGBTQIA+ brincantes is the sign of gender fantasized by the plots in the gameplay, which often is not the same as the body that represents it, but without the same body it cannot be played. At the moment in which the loss of gender is allegorized by the third performative element that protagonizes the scenic performance, the place of norms can be revisited in their mandatory character. The phenomenon of animating the inanimate allows, in a hyperbolic way, the norms to be negotiated, since in the very act of playing they prove to be ineffective. “The re-signification of norms is thus a function of their ineffectiveness, and for this reason the question of subversion, of taking advantage of the weakness of the norm, becomes a question of inhabiting the practices of its rearticulation” (Butler, 2020BUTLER, Judith. Corpos que importam: os limites discursivos do “sexo”. São Paulo: n-1 edições, 2020., p. 392, original italics). In this way, the enchantment that makes the sword an animant shows the ineffectiveness of the norms and the performance that operates in a temporary way makes possible the subversion of gender, highlighting ways of inhabiting transformative practices and, consequently, the very re-articulation of gender legibility.

Encantravamento11 11 ‘Encantravamento’ appears in the reading of Leal (2021) in relation to the travesti enchantment of the world, that is, in the context of interrupting the colonial marks of gender. Encantravar the world means to refuse the disciplinary paradigm and make of indiscipline a fabular episteme. in the Reisado fabulations: the quilombo-body

While Alcure (2019)ALCURE, Adriana Schneider. Rir de si: comicidade, política e a noção de “brincadeira”. Moringa, João Pessoa, UFPB, v. 10, n. 2, p. 151-172, jun./dez. 2019. discusses play as a way to decolonize sensibilities, I think about the tensions of gender and sexuality in the brincante theater based on “transverted studies” (Bento, 2017BENTO, Berenice. Transviad@s: gênero, sexualidade e direitos humanos. Salvador: Edufba, 2017.). In this way, I reference Bento (2017)BENTO, Berenice. Transviad@s: gênero, sexualidade e direitos humanos. Salvador: Edufba, 2017. when he explains the need to do away with gender as a marker of difference, in view of the binary and naturalized sense that prevails, to consider “gender playing”. “Look, I'm not talking about doing away with the idea of gender, but if I have no obligation to correspond to a gender stereotype, and if I can ‘play with gender’, what’s the problem?” (Bento, 2017BENTO, Berenice. Transviad@s: gênero, sexualidade e direitos humanos. Salvador: Edufba, 2017., p.154-155). By following the affections, Lopes (2016)LOPES, Denilson. Afetos. Estudos queer e artifício na América Latina. E-Compós, Brasília, Compós, v. 19, n. 2, p. 1-16, out. 2016. frames culture and art through sensibilities. In such a way, the game is played more through theatricalized sensations and performatized affections than by the expression of emotions and feelings played. This dialogues with what he posits on the issue of sensations and that affections matter more than sex and gender. “The beauty of the world is the spectacle of images. Poses. Not gestures. Masks. Not faces. Skins. Not bodies” (Lopes, 2016LOPES, Denilson. Afetos. Estudos queer e artifício na América Latina. E-Compós, Brasília, Compós, v. 19, n. 2, p. 1-16, out. 2016., p. 11).

Through the affectations of the field, I agree with Colling (2021)COLLING, Leandro. A vontade de expor: arte, gênero e sexualidade. Salvador: Edufba, 2021. that the gender performance and gender performativity of the brincantes are not the same thing. The staging of the brincante theater in the quilombo performances involves reflecting on how the brincantes use their lives and their gender to claim the public space, even if at the moment of disenchantment after the procession they perform their gender differently. “It is also necessary to differentiate gender performance and gender performativity because, in many works, the lives of performers and their artistic output are inseparable [...]” (Colling, 2021COLLING, Leandro. A vontade de expor: arte, gênero e sexualidade. Salvador: Edufba, 2021., p.241). In the Reisado, gender and sexuality are no more than a game in the fabrication of culture. In order to denaturalize popular culture, Albuquerque Junior (2013)ALBUQUERQUE JUNIOR, Durval Muniz de. Feira dos mitos: a fabricação do folclore e da cultura popular (Nordeste 1920-1950). São Paulo: Intermeios, 2013. offers a possible horizon for considering the very gender naturalized in the plot of traditions. “The fabrication of folklore and popular culture, made by literates, has to confront and give meaning to cultural practices in which the body and not the mind exerts a great centrality” (Albuquerque Junior, 2013ALBUQUERQUE JUNIOR, Durval Muniz de. Feira dos mitos: a fabricação do folclore e da cultura popular (Nordeste 1920-1950). São Paulo: Intermeios, 2013., p. 189).

In the case of the travesti presence in the Reisado quilombos as a performative event, the games and charms can be transformed and reinvented by the modes of subjectivation in the drift of other sensibilities. In this sense, the reflections that Leal and Rosa (2020)LEAL, Dodi; ROSA, André. Transgeneridades em Performance: desobediências de gênero e anticolonialidades das artes cênicas. Revista Brasileira de Estudos da Presença, Porto Alegre, UFRGS, v. 10, p. 1-29, jul./set. 2020. make regarding theatrical devices in relation to the trans issue provide an arsenal to ponder the brincante body. What really matters in the transpophagic mirage of considering brincante theater and its animated forms is not to create from a hegemony, but rather to create based on new imaginaries and repertoires, through which even cisgenerism may be asked to transform gender while the meanings of what it signifies to be travesti in this vision transmute in the embodiment. Within the quilombo, it is as if the acts of being or not being are not questioned and the reconfiguration of what it means to be a transgender person resound in the presence of the game that makes of the body a renewal in the logics of knowledge and power operated in transgenerity. The imaginary of the Reisado instigates, since it operates in the intervention and mutation of the bodies by acts of de-identification of themselves.

In this way, gender traverses the place of presence through improvisation and the ephemeral, causing a tension in the plots of tradition that redesigns and blurs new routes to re-present personal memories in the search for utopias. Between the poetic and the political, the aesthetics of the Reisado share an ethical dimension of displacement of the world and the meanings of self creation. “How can we create a space that is guided by an ethics that reaffirms life [...] in which we can access and reactivate the forces of the presence of gender disobediences at a population level?” (Leal; Rosa, 2020LEAL, Dodi; ROSA, André. Transgeneridades em Performance: desobediências de gênero e anticolonialidades das artes cênicas. Revista Brasileira de Estudos da Presença, Porto Alegre, UFRGS, v. 10, p. 1-29, jul./set. 2020., p. 22). While Simas and Rufino (2020)SIMAS, Luiz Antonio; RUFINO, Luiz. Encantamento: sobre política de vida. Rio de Janeiro: Mórula Editorial, 2020. follow the arrow that crosses time in the affirmation that the opposite of life is not death, but rather disenchantment, I continue to follow the whistle in the mouth of Maestra Pinto in seeing how the fabrications appear at the crossroads of the quilombo as “encruzi-travas” (travesti-junction) (Leal, 2021LEAL, Dodi Tavares Borges. Fabulações travestis sobre o fim. Conceição/Conception, Campinas, Unicamp, v. 10, n. 1, p. 1-19, maio, 2021.). Although Simas and Rufino (2020)SIMAS, Luiz Antonio; RUFINO, Luiz. Encantamento: sobre política de vida. Rio de Janeiro: Mórula Editorial, 2020. reflect on enchantment, I have in mind Leal’s (2021)LEAL, Dodi Tavares Borges. Fabulações travestis sobre o fim. Conceição/Conception, Campinas, Unicamp, v. 10, n. 1, p. 1-19, maio, 2021. view on the popular meanings of encantravamento. “To encantravar humanity is to transpose gender enigmas to spells of species enigmas” (Leal, 2021LEAL, Dodi Tavares Borges. Fabulações travestis sobre o fim. Conceição/Conception, Campinas, Unicamp, v. 10, n. 1, p. 1-19, maio, 2021., p. 15).

If the enchantment appears in the ability to transit through the innumerable twists and turns of time, the travesti enchantment enables the amulheramento12 12 ‘Amulheramento’ is another term of Leal’s (2021) that seeks to unleash an act of improving the world through action against domination. Thus, to mulherar (womanate), for the author, means to melhorar (improve) the ways of fabricating time from a transgender perspective. (feminization) of the world and of culture by a communal politics between poetics and everyday life as a rite that shows the forms of intelligibility of gender beyond the norms of disenchantment. Hence, Leal (2021)LEAL, Dodi Tavares Borges. Fabulações travestis sobre o fim. Conceição/Conception, Campinas, Unicamp, v. 10, n. 1, p. 1-19, maio, 2021. says that travesti fabulations undercut the disenchanted dictates. This assertion becomes relevant to the reflections presented here, as it mentions practices that set theater in its own wear and tear, pointing to other alignments and other paradigmatic reinventions of the performing arts as a healing process of the stage. “But how to bewitch, from a transgender perspective, the shelf life of the act, the body, the human species, and the world?” (Leal, 2021LEAL, Dodi Tavares Borges. Fabulações travestis sobre o fim. Conceição/Conception, Campinas, Unicamp, v. 10, n. 1, p. 1-19, maio, 2021., p. 10). If both the enchantment and the crossroads are keys that allow us to understand the aesthetic experiences by the establishment of other places and other temporalities forged in the fabrication of popular culture, the travesti body in tradition can be seen in the space where impossible lives manifest themselves in each other.

It is the movement that Mombaça (2021)MOMBAÇA, Jota. Não vão nos matar agora. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Cobogó, 2021. makes in colonized and recolonial fictions that allows us to see the curves and knots through crossings and escapes, as in the case of the quilombo in performance that can displace the positions of the cisgender matrix through affective connection. “I am speaking here of a presence that escapes the very gesture of apprehension to which this text is generated; I refer to a force that is neither subject nor world, but traverses everything” (Mombaça, 2021MOMBAÇA, Jota. Não vão nos matar agora. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Cobogó, 2021., p. 14-15). When Mombaça (2021)MOMBAÇA, Jota. Não vão nos matar agora. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Cobogó, 2021. speaks of the break as that which does not define itself and does not fit into itself, in the abrupt, disorderly, and erratic movement of shattering, I am reminded of the shards of broken mirrors in the outfits, swords, and helmets of some of the costumes from the Reisado. This comparison allows me to reflect through the aesthetic forms of performance on enchantment as a movement that borders on ethics and politics in the flow of collectivity forged in the movement of shattering the meanings of popular culture. Perhaps it is through culture that the travesti body finds a way to celebrate the disobedient presence of gender to inhabit and confront the world. “Not as people, but as plague: at the very core of the world, and against it” (Mombaça, 2021MOMBAÇA, Jota. Não vão nos matar agora. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Cobogó, 2021., p. 19).

In a parallel with the thinking of Brasileiro (2021)BRASILEIRO, Castiel Vitorino. Eclipse. New York: CSS Bard/Hessel Museum, 2021., we find the vision of the perishable spaces of freedom traversed by geographical situations and established by time-space lapses that expand the cosmic consciousness to go beyond the created limits. With a memory that transfigures, Pinto can be anything in the quilombo that is not necessarily travesti. In movement, Pinto’s body in the quilombo, celebrated by himself and the community in the rite, transmutes into a place of escape, where the swords confront the fabricated realm of the Black travesti Diaspora. In fact, travesti is perhaps one of the names, and the most provisional to designate it, while it transmutes, like the quilomba cross-over itself. “Tradition doesn't exist because, in the passage of knowledge to other bodies, what happens to this content is always a modification, either subtle or radical. If there is something that remains in tradition it is its mutant condition” (Brasileiro, 2021BRASILEIRO, Castiel Vitorino. Eclipse. New York: CSS Bard/Hessel Museum, 2021., p. 51). Travesti spirituality permeates popular culture and allows us to experience transvestility beyond this very identity. Let’s follow the quilombo-body.

It was the 14th of July, 2019. At 1pm, the doors and windows of Master Xexéu’s house were open. Outside, the zambumba (bass drum player) was playing and entertaining children and young people. The small room, in which the rehearsals took place, was the actual space of disenchantment: the costumes, swords, and helmets were on Master Xexéu’s store shelves, lifeless, as if they were asleep. At 37 years of age, the Master creates an air of expectation regarding his costume; everyday he dresses only the mannequin in the living room. There is a delicacy in his look and touch with his costumes, because, besides choosing the colors, types, and textures of the material, Xexéu seems to see how that fabric incarnates in his body. The costume seems to be even more important than the sword to him.

Figure 1
Costume with mirrors from the Reisado Sagrada Família (2019).

As a researcher, I realize that I transit more fluidly between the conventional boundaries of Master’s house than some of the people playing, even though I was seen several times as a brincante of the Reisado Sagrada Família because I followed the rehearsals and was invited by Master Xexéu to join the group. Rayanny Gomes13 13 Rayanny died on August 12, 2021, a victim of Covid-19. The findings of this research go back to the reminiscences in memory of Master Xexéu's wife. , 24 years old and the Master’s wife, was doubly attentive, always offering, coffee or vodka whenever she saw me in the room. While Xexéu was getting ready, Rayanny dressed her 4-year-old son, who was already considered the prince of the parade. Despite being humble, Master Xexéu’s store is complete and organized, with a steel rack of up to six shelves in a room of approximately 8m2. From food to cleaning products, each shelf, from bottom to top, is arranged specifically by how useful the products are for customers to buy.

Before that quilombo day, the Sagrada Família group was rehearsing weekly and had invited Pinto to accompany the meetings. I got to see and dance in three group rehearsals, always on Thursdays, when I would meet Pinto at 6pm at João Cabral, on Rua Beata Maria de Araújo, and from there we would go by motorcycle to Master’s house in Pirajá, on Avenida Guanabara, covering a distance of almost 2km. On that day Pinto said that he didn’t want to perform in the quilombo, even though he had been rehearsing for the last few days. In the room, she helped people with their costumes and practiced some sword strokes in the street with the rows of brincantes that were already ready. Before the quilombo began, Xexéu invited Pinto once again to participate, offering her a costume that was left over from the group, since she, due to indecision, had not taken hers. Despite not wanting to participate, Pinto said that she would only accompany the quilombos and help in whatever was necessary.

Figure 2
Pinto duels with a brincante of Master Xexéu (2019).

Once the procession was announced, I heard the first whip crack on the asphalt. The Dogs had already begun their rampage at the opening of the quilombo. Master Xexéu was already ready and his son, thinking that he would accompany his father, stood at the door with Rayanny, who said goodbye to the procession and stayed there, so as not to leave the store unattended that afternoon. In all, there were seven stops on street corners, roads and houses.

I decide to describe each moment of the quilombo, led by Sagrada Família, in my field journal, with cartographic attention and the resource of the vibrating body (Rolnik, 1989ROLNIK, Suely. Cartografia sentimental: transformações contemporâneas do desejo. São Paulo: Estação Liberdade, 1989.). The quilombo began with Master Xexéu’s whistle, although the Dogs had already started the street performance. In the mouth of the Master, the object comes alive with the breath that creates the enchanted atmosphere of the procession and opens the senses of the quilombo. It was 2:52 pm when the group left Avenida Guanabara towards the first streets of João Cabral, crossing one of the main avenues of Juazeiro do Norte, the central Avenida Castelo Branco, and unleashing the sensitive becoming between the affections and sensations (Deleuze; Guattari, 1992DELEUZE; Gilles; GUATTARI, Félix. O que é filosofia?. Rio de Janeiro: Ed. 34, 1992.).

Without a route and improvising, the Sagrada Família brincantes turn the streets into a blue mantle through the group’s costume that hues the dance in red and white. The group of Dogs opens the quilombo moving at the front of the procession formed by the lines. Wearing a strapless gray dress and with her hair tied up, Pinto accompanies the group along the margins, on the sidewalks, as a spectator. Master Xexéu gives the order, and the band that had been playing since the beginning of that afternoon pauses and starts playing again with the snare and zabumba drums for the quilombo to dance. The sounds mix between cracks of whips, percussion instruments, and the songs of the brincantes. The first piece is called by the Master and the brincantes respond with the second piece in a repetition of the verse. The bodies that practiced sword blows in front of Xexéu’s house are already warmed up.

Figure 3
Figure of the Dog at the start of the quilombo Reisado (2019).

I think that the first characters that become enchanted in the Reisados are the Dogs, who open the rite through the crack of the 2m whip and their masks, which give the players a monstrous and shapeless face, enabling the differentiation of the self through the enchanted drift of the other as a thing that comes in the double of the animation (Amaral, 1996AMARAL, Ana Maria. Teatro de formas animadas. São Paulo: Edusp, 1996.). After all, the Dog is one of the only masked figures in the Reisados. The Master whistled, and the line formed. In the quilombo there were approximately 35 brincantes. The 15 Dogs, now more distant from Master’s house, continue opening times through the streets. Mateu, one of the most important characters from the quilombo, for doing tricks and getting change, follows in front of the Master, the Queen, the King and the Princess, who are in the middle of the two lines of brincantes. On the left and right sides, eight brincantes sing and dance around the performance, totaling 16 brincantes. The band plays behind the performance, alongside the public who, walking or riding motorcycles to the sound of horns and shouts, accompany the show.

Until that moment, the procession did not have any Contraguia (Counterguide), because Pinto had decided not to participate. As they cross Avenida Castelo Branco, the Dogs disrupt the calm Sunday traffic. Cars honk their horns, some drivers complain, others take pictures and participate in the performance with shouts and booing. The masked men climb on the hoods of the cars, play with the drivers, and don’t wait for the red light. The religious rite is embodied in the bodies that dance in the Sagrada Família group. Master Xexéu sings the second piece and spots the first open house. The Dogs stand at the door, the band is on the sidewalk, and the players enter the enclosure after asking the owner of the house for permission. It’s time to enter and perform the first Divino in the game’s rite through the clinking of swords and the laughter echoed in the prayers.

Praise the travesti body in the spiral quilombo: Pinto enchants

1. A travesti enters this noble room

The first stop was in a house in the João Cabral neighborhood. The organization inside the residence occurs in the same way as on the street; the brincantes enter and start the first recitation. At this moment, near the band, some people on the sidewalk drink vodka and other brincantes duel swords outside the house. The commotion makes the neighborhood residents come out of their houses in the middle of the procession. Some embrace the familiar brincantes and others go unnoticed due to their costumes or masks. On the porch of the house where Master Xexéu does the Sagrada Família performance, Pinto’s presence resonates among the brincantes, as she enters the procession without a costume, as the last of the line on the left side and creating an effect by enchantment (Icle, 2011ICLE, Gilberto. Estudos da Presença: prolegômenos para a pesquisa das práticas performativas. Revista Brasileira de Estudos da Presença, Porto Alegre, UFRGS, v. 1, n. 1, p. 9-27, jul./dez. 2011.). At this moment, Pinto’s voice echoes over the voice of Xexéu, strengthening the link with the prayer.

Figure 4
The moment when Pinto enters the quilombo performance with singing (2019).

During the recitation there are sounds that both Mateu and the other brincantes make and they resemble the cattle calls of the cowboys in the corrals along the trails and even the ilás (sounds) that the orixás emit when they signal that they are incorporated on earth. It is interesting to see how the consecrated body of Pinto is constituted in the transvestility that rescues, through culture, the ancestral lapses that entangle her presence in the rite, either at the moment of that theatrical performance or in her trajectory through the groups of tradition. At the feet of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the singing verses a prayer based on popular Catholicism, making that parade almost a ceremony of Renewal. Still without a costume, Pinto sings and praises the time.

[...] When I enter this noble room / I see the damsel covered with a veil / The woman is the image of the man / The princess, the queen of heaven/[...]

2. The blessings of Master Nena

After the tiração (extraction) of the Divino, the group drinks water at the house, says goodbye and continues performing the quilombo. After crossing a few streets warring, singing and laughing, Master Xexéu signals a stop at the house of Master Nena, which is in the vicinity of Carlos Cruz Square, better known as Praça do CC, next to Pinto’s house. She disappears into the middle of the playing crowd. It is a moment of dispersion around the square, but Master Xexéu blows the whistle and the quilombo comes together in front of Master Nena’s house who, smoking a cigarette next to his companion, Dona Gorete, watches the religious homage. One can see respect and agility in each danced gesture, as if Xexéu, as the youngest Master, demanded from his group a performance that would be pleasing to Nena as a reverence.

The heat of that afternoon made the brincantes sweat with every song they danced. Dona Gorete brings a bottle of ice-cold water from the house and offers it to the participants. At no time does the singing stop, the voices alternate, and through the lines Gorete enters the scene offering water from one brincante to another. Master Nena greets the group and thanks them with positive gestures for the performance. After that, Xexéu announces a 10-minute pause. Then, the whistle blows across the square and the sound of the zabumba summons the brincantes to form the procession that follows the streets of João Cabral, spotting some open door or looking for the path of devotion in the presentification of the body in rite.

3. Pinto enchants

I walk along the sidewalks, accompanying the procession as a spectator of the game, when on one of the corners I see Pinto wearing a green suit, with a sword in her hand. What made Pinto so enchanted? She arrives intervening in the swordplay and duels with the first person she meets in the procession. Suddenly, the whistle goes from Master Xexéu’s mouth to Pinto’s mouth. Next to the Master, the brincante takes the role of Contraguia and leads some pieces. Some brincantes who had already danced with Pinto in other groups smile and shout loudly during the procession: "Hey, girl!" When she sees me, I ask her why she entered the quilombo just at that moment, and she says: "I am like that, I take you by surprise”14 14 Interview with Mellysa Giselly on July 14, 2019, in Juazeiro do Norte/CE. . In fact, it was a surprise to see Pinto in costume in that procession. Enchanted, I see her dueling with Germano Pereira, who was watching from the sidelines as a spectator.

In this role-play, when Germano sees Pinto, dressed in costume and dueling, something happens and the double of enchantment produces the brincante body in the skin of the one who plays with the performatized gender (Butler, 2020BUTLER, Judith. Corpos que importam: os limites discursivos do “sexo”. São Paulo: n-1 edições, 2020.). Dueling with Germano who was not wearing a costume at the moment, Pinto transmits and passes on the knowledge of tradition through another corporality that affects the plots of the game. Looks that are like the blows of a sword, blows that are like poses with the sword, and poses that create a fabrication about the sword that cuts time into ephemeral and fleeting particles. The scars of the sword do not only mark the skin, but cut identities through the gestures of the brincante bodies. What animates Pinto and affects Germano lies between the performance of the Reisado and the performance of gender as “animant” (Waszkiel, 2019WASZKIEL, Halina. Teatro de Formas Animadas. Móin-Móin, Florianópolis, Udesc, v. 2, n. 21, p. 208-221, dez. 2019.). What can Pinto be beyond a sword-wielding travesti?

Figure 5
Pinto and Gesman duelling in the João Cabral district (2019).

4. Meeting of Masters and the taking of the Queen

After Gesman and Pinto’s duel, I keep thinking about how much the sword drives the body. It is as if the sword made of the brincante person another animated object. Perhaps in the attempt to consider the relation of the brincante theater with its animated forms, in the performative dimension of these manifestations of sexual and gender dissidences in the scene, the brincante ability is the link between the knowledge of the bodies outside the sexual and gender norms and the animation of Kings. With his voice and whistle, Pinto asks to form the line. Meanwhile, Master Xexéu has a beer and hands a can to the zabumbeiro. In the quilombo almost nothing stands still, even in the moments of pause, the duels, the exchanges, and the encounters keep happening all the time.

Figure 6
Quilombo singing at the Salon stop (2019).

With one hand on his zabumba and the other on the beer can, the musician looks at me and says that “players don't drink 'gagau', they drink alcohol”. Pinto grabs a beer for me. The fourth stop is in another house that was open, where a beauty salon used to operate in the neighborhood. After the singing in front of the house, Master Xexéu asks if he can enter with the group. The air-conditioned environment cools down the brincante group, which sings more calmly to an image of Padre Cícero hanging from an altar near the salon’s ceiling. Between strands of hair on the floor, the brincantes dance, sing and look at themselves in the large mirrors. Pinto resumes her poise, fixes her hair and adjusts her costume. The salon owner offers the children water and chocolate milk. The walk continues in the relationship between the route and the body that is affected by the playing.

On the other side of the performance, Master Xexéu interrupted the march and agreed with Pinto which streets should still be taken based on the route danced and the improvised singing. Now we were in the middle of the quilombo, the moment for the main performance, the one the audience was most looking forward to: the seizure of the Queen in the battle between the Masters. As the quilombo was being taken by only one group, Master Xexéu divided the Sagrada Família into two groups and announced Pinto as the Master to perform that battle. The performance is made complete by the booing and shouting of the audience watching from the curbs. The Dogs form a big circle, a sort of fence with the strings of their whips, preventing anyone from intruding on the scene, interfering, or getting hurt.

*** I am not afraid/ I was born to fight/ With St. George’s sword/ All evil I will cut/ I have no fear of the ravenous dragon/ Because I have Saint George as my protector! [...]

Figure 7
The brincante jumps in costume during the swordplay (2019).

The battle begins15 15 Video of the performance at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLPxg0YJvUs&t=69s. Accessed on: September 20, 2021. . Xexéu strikes, protects the Queen, but doesn’t hit Pinto. She was with the Princess who, in the division of the groups, was playing the Queen. Pinto strikes, protects the Queen with her left hand, and strikes the blow with her right. The dispute intensifies as the two protect their Queens, but suddenly, in a slight slip, Pinto manages to take the Queen from Xexéu’s hand and knocks his sword to the ground. The audience yells and the sidewalks form an arena to observe Pinto in the 'here and now' based on a mysterious existence of what does not exist (Mombaça, 2021MOMBAÇA, Jota. Não vão nos matar agora. Rio de Janeiro: Editora Cobogó, 2021.), but that in the fantasy is animated as the experiment of friction through travesti spirituality (Brasileiro, 2021BRASILEIRO, Castiel Vitorino. Eclipse. New York: CSS Bard/Hessel Museum, 2021.). This moment, for me, is one of the most important, because the Black travesti body fabricates the time of the rite in the politics of life via the specter of enchantment, reverberating, in the performance, a social plot that unfolds from the recognition of her gender in the context of the artistic appearance in the public space. As quickly as the siege is formed, it dissolves through the streets and sidewalks, like the time that flows in the still and in the already is (Martins, 1997MARTINS, Leda. Afrografias da memória: o reinado do rosário do Jatobá. São Paulo: Perspectiva, 1997.).

5. Rain, mungunzá and rest

Night falls, but the whips keep cracking and the zabumba keeps playing. 6:32 pm at João Cabral. In front of another open door, the group asks permission and pays homage to the lady of the house. Most of the group is tired. At this stop, they are surprised to discover it someone’s birthday. The singing of pieces mingles with the happy birthday chorus. The brincantes receive a plate of mungunzá as a meal. Not everyone can fit inside the house and Pinto invites me to eat in the backyard. The birthday girl asks that only the “brincantes from the Reisado” come in, because she can’t serve everyone that night. I manage to get in with some people from the group, where I receive a small plate and, with the mungunzá in the background, under a fine rain in the backyard, I listen to the piece being sung in the living room. At no moment does the performance stop. Gradually, each player leaves the scene to get his or her plate and returns to the performance after eating.

Figure 8
Pinto duelling with a spectator near Master Nena’s house (2019).

6. Cachaça, sweat and rain

Back in the Pirajá neighborhood, the sixth stop smells of cachaça, sweat and wet asphalt. The rain thickens a little, but soon stops. The heat returns as if it hadn’t rained at the start of the night. With my shirt tucked in and my glasses steamed up, I stop under a yellowish lamppost. From the dark corner, I see some brincante lifting a bottle of cachaça. Almost falling apart through exhaustion, the quilombo weakens. Pinto starts to samba between the Reisado steps and offers me another can of beer. Wet, the players continue the duel. My field notebook is blurred and, sitting on a sidewalk, I try to recover from the sips of beer. Seeing me, Pinto asks, “are you tired already?”

*** Washer woman, who taught you to wash? / It was the ship's drum and the rocking of the sea / [...]

7. The Prince at the door

Like a crossroads, the quilombo of the Sagrada Família Reisado stops at the seventh point. 8:15 PM at Pirajá. Master Xexéu has almost no voice. The Dogs are unmasked, some without shirts and others with whips in their hands. The brincantes arrive and lie down on the curb. The zabumbeiro goes home and leaves his instrument hanging on the hammock in Master Xexéu’s living room. The Prince, who cried when he saw the quilombo leave, celebrates the return of his father while suckling on his mother’s breast. Rayanny asks me if the quilombo was good. Pinto opens the buttons of his green gown and loosens the belt of his petticoat at the end of this performance. The children and young people watch the live broadcasts from the quilombo that were posted on social networks and share the videos with each other. Without a costume, Pinto appears in a purple shirt and pink skirt, but still takes Master Xexéu’s whistle and leads some games for those who are still willing to play in the room. On the sidewalk, she smokes a cigarette with me.

*** I don’t fear any other Reisado Master/ They can come from another state/ Even from Rio de Janeiro/ They can come in the early hours/ We’ll clash swords and jump around the yard [...]

Cigarette at the door, final considerations

In the analysis of this quilombo performance in the Reisado, I realize how the travesti body has an effect of presence capable of exposing the brincante theater in its own incapacity to represent on the stage. As I return to these vibrations from the quilombo, I find no words to conclude, since the enchantment of the brincante body does not cease; it merely falls asleep. In the performances of spiral time, one finds a curve where Pinto resists through enchantment and makes of the moment a way to inhabit the present. From 2020 to 2022, I had the opportunity to follow the constitution of the Guerreiro Beija-flor group, which Pinto set up in the João Cabral neighborhood. Being recognized as a Maestra, perhaps the first travesti to take on this role in the popular culture of Ceará’s Cariri, it is possible to see presence and signification as effects capable of making the world the encantravar of itself.

Accordingly, between the animant and the gender performance, the brincante body is driven by the swords and forged by the clothing in the animation as a part of itself that is lost, but that is coupled in the impossible when invoking the lived experience of presence. In the blessings of the Masters, culture circulates in a commonplace that reverberates in the ephemeral particles through play. While time appears embroidered in the spiral, the brincante body seeks renewal through devotion. I am talking about a collection of gestures and movements inherited from tradition and embodied by the afrographies of memory that materialize life, going through traditional narratives and widening the discursive, corporal and imagetic limits in face of sexual and gender dissidences that permeate the handling of the animated forms summoned in the performance of the Reisado. In this way, the space created by Pinto in the quilombo transverses fissures while it is amalgamated in the bias of religiosity in tradition.

If the travesti presence in the Folia de Reis can displace rigid gender codes in tradition, it is important to highlight that popular culture can be disputed by the afrographies of the dissident body. In this way, it signals the effort and the need to reflect on the analysis of theater studies and its forms animated by transgenerities in performance, especially because it is a little-debated theme in terms of body, playing and animation in popular cultures, and is an important discussion in the readings of the body and the contemporary scene. As such, the travesti presence in the quilombos leads to the enchantment’s way of not totally subverting the nuances between gender and tradition, but of weakening the convention of cultural identity to direct the politics of the body in the very plots of performance, in which it becomes possible to dismantle the binary gears of the cis heteronormative sex-gender system through culture. As a prayer, praise be to the travesti body, in the spirals of time played be praised.

Notes

  • 1
    Research conducted with the support of CAPES-PROEX.
  • 2
    ‘Brincante’ is a term often used to refer to the people who participate in popular traditions in Brazil. In the case of the Reisado, the playing is highlighted by the infantile universe of the expression itself, in which the ‘brincantes’ join the groups when they are still children. By discussing unique issues of LGBTQIA+ experiences, I consider the power of the term in dialoguing with the inclusive language of gender as it does not solely pertain to the masculine or feminine, although some ‘brincantes’ call themselves brincadores, due to a derived function in the action of work within the culture.
  • 3
    Interview with Mellysa Giselly on January 12, 2019, in Juazeiro do Norte/CE.
  • 4
    For a more in-depth vision of Tica’s experience as queen in the Reisados, see Oliveira Junior (2019)OLIVEIRA JUNIOR, Ribamar José de. Tica nasceu de papo para cima: enunciados performativos na rainha do Reisado Santa Helena. Cadernos Pagu, Campinas, n. 55, p. 1-25, maio 2019. and Oliveira Junior and Fortes (2020)OLIVEIRA JUNIOR, Ribamar José de; FORTES, Lore. O simulacro da Rainha: performance, ritual e corpo no Reisado Santa Helena. Horizontes Antropológicos, Porto Alegre, v. 26, p. 87-115, jan./abr. 2020..
  • 5
    LGBTQIA+ is the acronym used for lesbian, gay, bisexual, travesti, transsexual or transgender, queer, intersex and asexual.
  • 6
    I highlight the term drag queen in these accompanied experiences, in which we notice the presence of the brincantes Emilly and Evellyn, who in 2019 performed drag art, in ensemble as artists who imitate a female character on stage in a hyperbolic way, alongside the participation in the tradition of the Reisado. In 2022, the brincantes continue in the process of gender transition, being recognized as trans youth in the Beija-flor group.
  • 7
    A type of performance played in the streets, in which the group moves from one place to another, in pilgrimage, with singing, duels and dances, involving improvisation conducted by the Master.
  • 8
    Interview with Deborah Pinheiro on March 13, 2019, in Juazeiro do Norte/CE.
  • 9
    Afrografias is a term by Martins (1997)MARTINS, Leda. Afrografias da memória: o reinado do rosário do Jatobá. São Paulo: Perspectiva, 1997. that seeks to relate rite and memory through the Black Diasporas, especially through the writings of what can be seen as oralitura in the plot of tradition that gets tangled up in the threads of memory and forgetfulness in the body.
  • 10
    Oralitura is also a term of Martins’ (2002)MARTINS, Leda. Performances do tempo espiralar. In: ARBEX, Márcia; RAVETTI, Graciela (Org.). Performance, exílio, fronteiras: errâncias territoriais e textuais. Belo Horizonte: Ed. UFMG, 2002. P. 69-92. to designate knowledge permeated by performance that goes beyond literature, drawing routes through cultural manifestations in orality and the path of the body as a place of memory.
  • 11
    ‘Encantravamento’ appears in the reading of Leal (2021)LEAL, Dodi Tavares Borges. Fabulações travestis sobre o fim. Conceição/Conception, Campinas, Unicamp, v. 10, n. 1, p. 1-19, maio, 2021. in relation to the travesti enchantment of the world, that is, in the context of interrupting the colonial marks of gender. Encantravar the world means to refuse the disciplinary paradigm and make of indiscipline a fabular episteme.
  • 12
    ‘Amulheramento’ is another term of Leal’s (2021)LEAL, Dodi Tavares Borges. Fabulações travestis sobre o fim. Conceição/Conception, Campinas, Unicamp, v. 10, n. 1, p. 1-19, maio, 2021. that seeks to unleash an act of improving the world through action against domination. Thus, to mulherar (womanate), for the author, means to melhorar (improve) the ways of fabricating time from a transgender perspective.
  • 13
    Rayanny died on August 12, 2021, a victim of Covid-19. The findings of this research go back to the reminiscences in memory of Master Xexéu's wife.
  • 14
    Interview with Mellysa Giselly on July 14, 2019, in Juazeiro do Norte/CE.
  • 15
    Video of the performance at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=nLPxg0YJvUs&t=69s. Accessed on: September 20, 2021.
  • This original paper, translated by Tony O’Sullivan, is also published in Portuguese in this issue of the journal.

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    06 July 2022
  • Date of issue
    2022

History

  • Received
    22 Sept 2021
  • Accepted
    25 Feb 2022
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