“To be [seen] or not to be [seen]? That is the question” : presence in black theatrical practice of Cia. dos Comuns
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This essay interrogates the political dimensions of black presence in black theatrical practice. To do so, I focus on the deployment of black presence in the spectacle Silêncio performed by Cia dos Comuns and premiered in 2007, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I argue that the option made by director Hilton Cobra in not making use of fictional characters, as well as not deploying realistic representations of every day life, indicates a political gesture that challenges what I consider to be the most fundamental aspect of black theatrical practice: the black presence on stage. By facing the multidimensional, challenging, and contradictory aspects of black presence, this study will approach the negotiation of presence in black theatrical practice. I argue that an approach on the black phenomenal presence on stage complicates assumptions regarding the benefits of the investment in black presence as a political tool to enhance the participation of black people in Brazilian society. This essay aims to engage and expand on the available theoretical apparatus in the scholarship about black theatrical practice in Brazil.