Produced by Madalena-Berlin theatre group with the support of KURINGA, space for Theatre of the Oppressed in Berlin, the II Ma(g)dalena International Festival opened its doors at the Berliner Uferstudios on Wednesday 13th September at 7pm.
In spite of the rain, many visitors from the neighborhood and all Berlin gathered to inaugurate a festival that celebrates the progress of the Ma(g)dalena network and seeks effective means to broaden the articulation between feminist theatre groups, social movements and organizations.
The opening day of the festival addressed the intersection of sexism and racism, and focused on the voices of women of color. The first act was performed by Brazilian dancer Fernanda Dias. Faced with crucial episodes in childhood, Dandaluanda, the piece's main character, learns to talk to the Baobab tree and discovers the ancestral force that protects her. Through the conversations with the tree, the girl finds the foundations of her black identity and understands her destiny as queen. Music and dance helped the audience to follow Dandaluanda in this journey of discovery and self-recognition. Fernanda Dias' Portuguese words were dubbed in English so that all the audience could participate in the performance.
In the Forum Theatre piece Schwarz, Black, Preta presented by the group Anastácia-Berlin, black women took over the stage to represent everyday situations of racism and invited the audience to commit to the transformation of a system that propagates violence, deepens injustice and is based on exploitation. How to speak up against the racist, sexist and homophobic aggressions that black women suffer on a daily basis? The objective of the forum was to explore ways to navigate these situations, grow stronger and make alliances. Women of color experience double discrimination and exclusion based on race and gender, an experience that is often overseen or invalidated by many white women, as we could see in one of the characters in the play. The actresses were focused and at the same time warm and funny, making the public engage even more in the discussion.
After the play, the Anastácias stressed out the importance of Black Feminism and how the experience of sexism and racism cannot be separated. They talked about how, in the beginning of the feminist movement in Brazil, white women were fighting for their right to enter the workplace while their black grandmothers were being brought to the country in order to work. The Ma(g)dalenas Berlin explained that it was not long ago that they started addressing the issues that were specific to black women, but that they believe that there is a necessity to give voice to those who suffer racism and sexism.
The last piece of the night was performed by a group of women from Guinea-Bissau, who sang traditional songs in their vernacular language that highlighted the value of women in society. While the performers played their traditional instruments, the public clapped their hands and sang along, the best way to finish the first day of the II International Ma(g)dalena Festival.