Since it was established, on October 28th 1951, O Tablado has remained an amateur theater group. However, the quality of the productions is undoubtedly that of a professional theater.
The founding members of O Tablado are: Aníbal and Maria Clara Machado, Antonio Gomes Filho, Carmem Sylvia Murgel, Carlos Augusto Alves dos Santos, Eddy Rezende, Edelvira and Déa Fernandes, Isabel Bicalho, João Sérgio Marinho Nunes, João Augusto de Azevedo Filho, Jorge Leão Teixeira, Martim Gonçalves, Marília Macedo, Oswaldo Neiva and Stélio Emanuel de Alencar Roxo.
The space provided by the Patronato Operário da Gávea was a simple entertainment space for those who lived in the vicinity. There was a rudimentary stage with not enough seats to accommodate the public. Therefore, seats were borrowed from a small church. Only after the great success of the play Our Town, by Thornton Wilder, in 1954, it was possible to purchase the first seats for the theater.
In 1955, Pluft, the Little Ghost, one of the most successful texts of Maria Clara Machado, had its first production. The play was very well received by the public and the critics, it was staged in several cities in Brazil and abroad and translated into several languages such as Spanish, German and French. O Tablado won numerous awards and honors with all of Pluft’s productions over the years. Each new production of the Little Ghost’s story delights and moves a new generation of children.
Time and the Conways, by J. B. Priestley, was staged in 1957 and was a great success. Geraldo Queiroz won the Breakthrough Director Award, given by the Brazilian Association of Theater Critics. The production had a professional actress in the cast, the well-known Portuguese actress Maria Sampaio. Professional actors didn’t usually participate in amateur productions, but O Tablado had conquered its space in the theatrical scene and had much prestige. Despite being an amateur theater group, all the major critics (Paschoal Carlos Magno, Paulo Francis, Eneida, Yan Michalski, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, among many others.) used to publish their reviews considering the professional quality of the productions.
O Tablado’s periodics: Cadernos de Teatro
In 1956, it was launched the magazine entitled Cadernos de Teatro. These publications were, at the time, supported by the Brazilian Institute of Education, Science and Culture, connected to UNESCO. The intention of the Cadernos de Teatro was to provide informations related to Brazilian and world arts, offering theoretical material for small groups and amateur actors, specially those who were far from the major capitals. Throughout all these years, O Tablado has launched more than 150 publications of the magazine.
AMATEUR AND PROFESSIONAL ACTORS
In 1958 , some actors expressed the desire to turn O Tablado into a professional group, but Maria Clara Machado did not agree with that idea, so they left to start their own professional companies. First, Martim Gonçalves left, then Carmen Sylvia Murgel, Geraldo Queiroz, Napoleon Muniz Freire, Claudio Correa e Castro and Emilio de Mattos who formed the Teatro da Praça. Rubens Correa and Ivan de Albuquerque created the Teatro do Rio, in Catete, and in 1964, they began the construction of a new theater space, to be opened in 1968 , which became very famous and exists to this day: Teatro Ipanema. Those were profound losses, but these actors didn’t abandon the Tablado forever. Once a “tabladiano”, always a “tabladiano”.
To celebrate 15 years of O Tablado, in 1966, Maria Clara Machado had the first stage production of her play for adults, The Interference, and counted with specials participations of ”tabladianos” that were already professional actors: Rubens Correa, Ivan de Albuquerque, Paulo Padilha and Jacqueline Laurence. The play was presented on Mondays which, at that time, was the only day off in professional theaters in Brazil.
THE COURSE OF IMPROVISATION AND THE THEATRE TO CHILDREN
With the loss of the actors of the group for the professional theater, Maria Clara Machado felt the need to find new talents. Thus emerged the Improvisation Courses in 1964. At the beginning, only Maria Clara taught twice a week. Over time, her own students became teachers or members of the group in various roles : Cacá Mourthé, Thais Balloni, Bernardo Jablonski, Carlos Wilson Damião, Sílvia e Cristina Nunes, Milton Dobbin, Sílvia e Ronald Fucs, Ada Chaseliov, Hamilton Vaz Pereira, Louise Cardoso, Guida Vianna, Sura Berditchevsky, Ricardo Kosovski, Lionel Fischer, José Lavigne , are some of the many talents that have emerged in the lessons of Clara in the late 1960s and 1970s. This way, “almost imperceptibly”, as Maria Clara liked to say, O Tablado expanded to become, not only an amateur theater group, but also, a theater school.
As the students were all very young , Maria Clara Machado, that was loyal to “physique du rôle”, saw in her young actors the opportunity to explore the children’s theater, as the classic texts’ characters demanded actors in a more mature age. Maria Clara’s childrens plays began to be staged more often and had great success!
HITS OF 80′s
In the 1980s, O Tablado produced plays that were great successes, contributing to the formation of a new and young type of audience. There were young people in the audience and performing on stage: Today is Day of Rock (by José Vicente), in 1980, The Twelve Labors of Hercules (an adaptation of Monteiro Lobato’s book, by Carlos Wilson Silveira), in 1983; Our Town (by Thorton Wilder), in 1984, and Spring Awakening (by Franz Wedekind), in 1986, marked the youth of many teenagers, on and off stage.
In 1998, Lincoln Vargas and José Alex Oliva Junior, students of O Tablado, conceived and produced the first “Mostra the Esquetes” (Skits’ show), an event that happens until today. The exhibition aims to create a space where students of O Tablado can produce their own scenes, performing the roles of actor, director, costume designer, set designer and producer of their own skits.
Unfortunately, in 2001, the grand master Maria Clara Machado passed away. She directed O Tablado with love, wisdom and enthusiasm along 50 years. Much enthusiasm! Clara was undoubtedly the aggregator component of diverses talents who have been through this stage since its founding. O Tablado has become more then a school and a theater, it is a brand recognized for its excellence. Maria Clara Machado knew that she would need energetic and visionary hands to continue her work, and she noticed these characteristics in her niece, disciple and partner of many years. In 2003, Cacá or Maria Clara Machado Mourthé, named after her aunt, took charge of O Tablado.
A GREAT PARTNERSHIP
Clara’s dream became Cacá’s dream, who took over the artistic direction of the theater in 2003. In the same year, it was decreed the provisional register by the National Heritage for O Tablado, due to its cultural value. Cacá followed her master’s steps since very young. She was directed by Clara countless times. They wrote books together and shared the direction of many plays. They also wrote in partnership “Passo a passo no Paço Imperial”, in 1992, “Tudo por um fio”, in 1994, and “Jonas e a baleia”, in 2000.