2017 – II Festival Ma(g)dalena International – Berlin


Around one hundred registered participants, more than a thousand people at the public events, six Forum Theatre shows, one session of Legislative Theatre, three dance theatre performances, one interactive installation, photo exhibition, discussion tables, theatre laboratory, thematic seminar, aesthetic intervention in a public event, repercussion in the alternative media, concert and feminist party. There were four days of public activities and one day of internal activity. The 2nd International Ma(g)dalena Festival was a demonstration of the creativity, quality and commitment of the Theatre of the Oppressed network to the construction of a society based on respect for diversity, social justice and the freedom to be, to decide and to express oneself.

Through a crowfunding campaign, the direct contribution of the Madalena-Berlin group, together with donations from the public and the valuable support of volunteers, it was possible to realise the festival and to guarantee the accommodation of the participants, as well as to collaborate with a modest sum for the purchase of some plane tickets. The Ma(g)dalenas came from Brazil, Argentina, Guatemala, Portugal, Spain (including the Basque Country and Catalonia), France, Italy, Austria, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine and Guinea-Bissau, to celebrate the strengthening, growth and variety in the composition and intervention of the Theatre of the Oppressed network. The quality of the productions presented attests to the development of a Ma(g)dalena feminist aesthetic capable of constituting itself as an artistic expression and, at the same time, of being a stimulus and vehicle for a consistent political discussion, aimed at the realisation of concrete actions. In Guatemala, for example, a transnational project is being developed in 11 countries to show and seek alternatives to the oppressions faced by women living with AIDS in Latin America. This is currently the largest project of the Ma(g)dalena network.

Unfortunately, restrictive migration policies prevented the group Fuerza Magdalena Saharaui from coming to share with us their experience in the refugee camp where they live in northern Algeria.

The opening night of the event was marked by the conviction that the discussion of feminism must be transversal and include other fundamental axes, including racism. The Forum-Theatre performance “Schwarz, Black, Preta”, by the group Anastácia-Berlin (Germany), addressed the issue of social privileges that are treated as individual merit and of institutionalised and everyday racism in the lives of black women. The conversation with Jamile da Silva (Brazil/Alemanha) helped to deepen the theme. The performances “Dandaluanda” by Fernanda Dias (Brazil), and “N’kumbi da Guiné”, by Madalena-Bissau (Guiné-Bissau) showed the black aesthetic presence on the first day of the festival.

The sexist violence that threatens the daily lives of millions of women around the world was highlighted on the second day. The interactive installation #NosDuelen56, by the group Magdalena-Guatemala Xela (Guatemala), proposed an active reflection on the massacre of 56 young women and girls on 8 March 2017 in Guatemala. The photo exhibition “Maria from Brazil: law and art”, by Noélia Albuquerque (Brazil), presented the story of struggle of the CTO’s oldest group. The show “¿Niega o Negra?”, by the Colectivo Madalena-Anastácia (Brazil), invited us to reflect on racist and sexist violence reproduced through cultural and artistic expressions such as music. Finally, “Jongo”, by Flavia Souza (Brazil), was a celebration of Afro-Brazilian cultural expression.

On the third day of the festival, the theme of discussion focused on issues related to women’s lives, bodies and sexuality. The group Ma(g)dalenas Guatemala Xela presented the multiplication project carried out with women living with AIDS in 11 Latin American countries in a debate with another association working on the same topic in Berlin.
The group from León (Spain) Siempre vivAs presented “Tu concilia, que te lío”, about the harassment at work suffered by women who are mothers and try to reconcile family and professional life. The group Bihotzerre (Basque Country) with the show “Por encima de todas als zarzas”, dealt with the issue of body control and sexuality of women in different stages of life.

On the fourth day we discussed the construction of the concept of gender and its social consequences. We participated in the demonstration “My body, my decision” in the centre of Berlin to politically support the freedom of women to choose their bodies. Afterwards, the group Kakalakes (Berlin) with the show “TV Las estrelladas”, proposed the debate about the influence of soap operas in the creation of a female nature characterised by fragility and rivalry. The group Madalena-Berlin with the show, “No means NO”, questioned the difficulty of acceptance and legitimisation of the denial expressed by a woman’s body. The musical group Rainhas do Norte (Berlin), and DJ Grace Kelly (Brazil/Berlin), were responsible for the feminist party that closed the public activities of the festival.

In the three theatre lab sessions we shared ideas on various themes and created, under the direction of Fernanda Dias who shared black dance movements, a performance “No es No; Nein heisst Nein; Não é Não; No means No!” for the public event “My body, my decision”, held on the morning of September 16th. Sunday 17th, the last day, was spent in an internal seminar in which the participants gave practical contributions to the performances that had been presented throughout the festival and discussed the themes that we will bring to the V ELTO that will take place in February 2018 in Montevideo.