Maria Clara Machado is the great creator of O Tablado. She led the theater for 50 long years, building a great theatrical institution of great importance for the Performing Arts.
Born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, in 1921, Maria Clara Machado moved to Rio de Janeiro at four years old. Aracy and Aníbal Machado had five daughters, all named Maria: Celina, Clara, Luiza, Ana and Ethel. Machado spoke of two events that marked her childhood: the nature, experienced in her paternal grandfather Vígilio’s farm, of whom she kept tender memories; and the premature death of her mother, at age 28, while pregnant with her sixth child, a boy, who also died. At this time, Clara was only nine. Her father remarried and from this new union her fifth sister, Aracy, was born. Aracy became a teacher at O Tablado, where she still teaches today. Her daughter, Maria Clara Mourthé, better known as Cacá, is Machado’s great apprentice and successor. Maria Clara’s nephew, Cacá´s brother, lent his name to the most famous boy in Clara’s repertoire: Vicente does not give up on his dreams, and against everything and everyone, he finds his ‘Little Blue Horse’. For Maria Clara Machado family was the foundation for the realization of dreams. That is why O Tablado became this big family.
Sunday’s rendez-vous at Aníbal Machado’s house
Aníbal Machado, Maria Clara’s father, was a writer, literary critic and cultural activist. Friend of numerous personalities of artistic and intellectual elite of the time, he used to promote a weekly meeting at his residence on Sundays. Great names passed by his house at Visconde de Pirajá 487, and it was in this atmosphere that Maria Clara Machado grew up. Some of the people who attended these events were the writers and poets: Albert Camus, Pablo Neruda, Murilo Mendes, Dante Milano, Vinicius de Moraes, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Otto Lara Resende, Paulo Mendes Campos, Ruben Braga, João Cabral de Mello Neto, AdalgisaNery, among others; artists: Ismael Nery, Di Cavalcanti, Goeldi, Guignard, Portinari, FaygaOstrower, Glauco Rodrigues, Anna Letycia, and many more; actress Tonia Carrero and all future founders of O Tablado were also attendees. These are some of the names of important personalities who attended Sunday’srendez-vousat Maria Clara and Aníbal Machado’s house.
The Scouts and the Catholic Church
Maria Clara Machado’s experiences as a girl scout and a member of Catholic Church led her to the theater. Through Scouting, she relived the adventures in nature throughout Brazil’s countryside, the same nature that had marked her infancy. The connection with the Catholic Church brought her into contact with the women of the Patronato Operário da Gávea, the place that houses O Tablado. While working at the Pestalozzi Institute she began writing stories for the puppet theatre.
In 1950, Maria Clara Machado won a scholarship to study theater in Paris! She remained there for a year, having studied with the great master of improvisation Charles Dullin. Upon returning to Brazil with great desire and enthusiasm to work in theatre, Maria Clara Machado realized that she didn’t have the same problem as her fellow French actors friends: the lack of a stage! The Patronato Operário da Gávea had a stage and Maria Clara was already using it for children’s recreation. In 1951, together with other young friends, she founded the amateur theatre group O Tablado.
Master of Improvisation
When she returned from Paris, besides the work being developed at O Tablado, Maria Clara Machado was invited by Sadi Cabral to teach improvisation at the Conservatory Theatre, now known as Unirio University of Scenic Arts. And so Maria Clara Machado the teacher was born. Dulcina de Moraes, director of a large theater school, also invited her to teach. From 1964 to 2000, Clara taught at O Tablado. There were classes for several age groups, from teenagers to seniors. During all these years, she trained numerous actors, teachers and theater artists.
Maria Clara Machado was an actress, teacher and director. However, she is recognized, both nationally and internationally, for her writings. Her texts are appreciated and loved throughout Brazil and Europe. Children fromPiauí’s countryside, in Brazil, or Madrid, Spain, know the little ghost called Pluft (fantasminhaPluft), whois scared of people, and Angela, the little witch(bruxinhaÂngela), who isn’t wicked. Without adoubt, there are plays that stand out: The Little Blue Horse; The Little Good Witch; The Girl and the Wind; The Abduction of the Chives; Tribobó City; and Pluft, The Little Ghost, a classic of children’s dramaturgy and the most important text of her repertoire, which was first produced in 1955.
Literature and Theatre
Maria Clara Machado dedicated her life to O Tablado and the result of this dedication is the continuity and quality of the group. Clara remains alive today through O Tablado’s plays, classes, and whenever any small or big reader flips through one of her books. Her stories enchant new generations of children as well as spectators that once came toO Tablado accompanied by their parents and now bring their own children and grandchildren!