Reference in theater, Hugo Rodas leaves a legacy of artistic reinvention

posted on 04/14/2022 06:00 / updated on 04/14/2022 06:13

(credit: Gustavo Moreno/CB)

Those who did not belong to Hugo Rodas’ circle of friends did not know that, in the last three years, he had been fighting cancer. His thick hair, lively humor and willingness to work remained intact until the end. He faced the disease with courage, dignity and joy. However, after battling cancer and suffering a stroke, the actor, theater director and professor at the University of Brasília (UnB) could not resist and died yesterday, aged 82. Rodas was hospitalized at Hospital Brasília and was being treated for cancer, but a metastasis made it difficult for the most important theater director in the history of Brasília to recover.

Already fell in love with the city from the plane window. In 1975, he came to Brasília to coordinate a 15-day course and never came back: “Hugo Rodas was a watershed in this city”, emphasizes Valéria Cabral, an actress who participated in the first production of the mummers, directed by Hugo Rodas and secretary of the Athos Bulcão Foundation. “It was with him that we learned to see theater in another way and with other possibilities. He fought until the end because he had a great love of life”, she adds.

He was a very Brazilian Uruguayan and, more than that, he always considered himself a candango. His journey into the theater world begins in his homeland. In Montevideo, in the 1950s, he joined the Teatro Circular theater school, a reference for the Uruguayan independent movement. Coming to Brazil, in a period of political repression in Uruguay, defines the change of life of Hugo Rodas, who starts to live in Brazil, moving, initially to Salvador.

In the same year, he was called to give a workshop in Brasília and never left the city. In 1976, he founded Grupo Pitú, which lasted until 1981. In 1978, he created with Pitú the memorable show Os saltimbancos, awarded the National Theater Service Award as the best children’s show of 1977.

Actor and director Guilherme Reis recalls that Hugo arrived in Brasília when the city was 15 years old and those who made theater were very young: “He was a Uruguayan citizen, but a candango. He was a great master, a great director from Brasilia and Brazil. . It’s a big loss, I still had a lot to do.”

Actress Carmem Moretzshon did not attend theater school, but for her, Hugo Rodas was her school. “He looked like a volcano, the rehearsal room was the side of the cliff, he wouldn’t settle down until he got the best out of you. If he took a classic, he reinvented everything, he didn’t sacralize the culture. He was a wizard in a pure state of invention.”

Hugo conceived and directed memorable versions of modern theater classics: Bernarda Alba’s houseby Garcia Lorca; lady of the drownedby Nelson Rodrigues; The Nutcrackerby Tchaikovsky; The life is a Dreamby Calderon de La Barca; Harlequin: Servant of Two Bosses, from Goldoni; and The Sailing King, by Oswald de Andrade. In the end, these classics became shows by Hugo Rodas. He created and recreated with the fury of a scene alchemist. Alongside directors Adriano and Fernando Guimarães, Hugo received, in 1996, the Shell Award for directing for the show Doroteia.

Director Fernando Guimarães remembers when he worked with Hugo Rodas for the first time. It was in the mid-1990s, in a montage of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Rodas complained that the young director and his brother, Adriano, had never invited him to do a play. Fernando then asked him to summarize the witches that appear in the text, but he did not like the first version. Rodas prepared, then another staging. “Three days later he presented a genius sorceress, and it was a scenario with a scaffolding and he was on the top scaffold. It was a success, we traveled, it was a very cool thing”, he says.

From then on, there were six years of collaboration on stage, a partnership that culminated in dorothea, a piece that won the Shell Prize in 1996. “It was a meeting of the soul. And we did very different things”, recalls Fernando, who also edited it, in partnership with Hugo and Adriano Guimarães. The pieces Widow but honest (Nelson Rodrigues) and The Misfortunes of a Child (Martins Pena). “Living with Hugo was a hurricane. He forced you to think a lot more. His inspiration was to be Hugo. That restlessness head he had, he brought that restlessness to us. It’s an irreparable loss for our theater. man, talent.”

Hugo trained five generations of actors in Brasília, with productions in theaters and classes at the Department of Performing Arts at the University of Brasília. He formed the Pitú groups in the 1980s; Candango University Theater — Tucan, at the University of Brasília, in the 1990s, and, more recently, the Amacaca Group. “Hugo needed to be around young people to create”, comments Carmem Moretzshon. “The old people couldn’t keep up with Hugo’s frenetic pace. What he forced us to do in Arlequim was crossfit workouts.”

In 2019, Hugo turned 80, but instead of receiving gifts, he presented us with two wonderful shows, in assembly with Agrupação Amacaca, which established direct harmony with the dramatic moment we are experiencing: the rhino and the mummers. The first provokes holy indignation against the reigning stupidity; and the second, celebrates the essential joy of solidarity. “We’re going back to the most absurd thing, a holy war, god with a machine gun on the other side,” Hugo said at the time. “the rhino It’s a little bit about that.”

When the pandemic broke out, Hugo did not fall into depression. Faced with the government’s irresponsibility and indifference towards the death of thousands of Brazilians, he conceived the series of performances Quem parte é amor de algo, in front of the Museu da República and the Teatro Nacional.

With the rooms closed and the culture unfeasible, he transformed the Esplanada dos Ministérios into a public theater: “It’s a fantastic monumental theater, all the characters from Brazil are alive there”, he exulted. Hugo’s performances achieved national and even international repercussions. The images of the interventions were ranked fourth among the most viewed by Reuters in the world. “He wouldn’t stop, for the last few days he was talking about putting on a show to question the 1922 Art Week”, says Carmem. “Brasilia has never had a director of the greatness of Hugo Rodas”, says the actress. “He was the greatest. He didn’t settle, he challenged himself and he challenged others. Only the great ones have that courage”.

Contributed by Nahima Maciel,

Pedro Ibarra and Ricardo Dahen

UnB celebration on the Esplanade

Even retired, Hugo Rodas worked as an associate researcher in the graduate program in performing arts at UnB. When he got very sick, he stopped teaching for the last two semesters. However, he was recently invited and accepted to participate in a commission to celebrate the 60th anniversary of UnB, which intends to carry out a cinematographic survey of the institution’s memory. According to professor Fátima Aparecida, from the performing arts department, Hugo asked that the university not celebrate its anniversary within the walls of the academy and be present on the street. “He requested that the celebration be held on the Esplanade of Ministries. On June 10, there will be a public class, with the participation of 14 UnB institutes. Every hour there will be a toast
at the age of 60 at the University of Brasília”.

The legacy

The Secretary of Culture Bartolomeu Queiroz issued a note about Hugo Rodas: “We have lost a master of the stage. A restless creator moved by the forces of body movements. It took more than four decades to train performers on stages and classrooms ready to occupy theaters around the world. legacy that Hugo leaves us will be perennial”.


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