To be unfamiliar with the work of the Grupo XIX is to miss out on one of the finest examples of theatre in all of São Paulo. Now in its twelfth year, the company elected to begin its new season with one of the most iconic plays by the famous Brazilian writer Nelson Rodrigues, Vestido de Noiva (The Wedding Dress).
The text has been adapted to serve as the basis of an original play called Nada Aconteceu, Tudo Acontece, Tudo está Acontecendo ('nothing happened, everything happens, everything is happening'), which sees Grupo XIX's base in an eastern suburb of São Paulo transformed into a hall for the wedding ceremony of the play's protagonist, Alaíde.
The space is certainly off the beaten path for visitors to São Paulo, a short taxi ride from the Belém metrô, but it's one of the main draws of this play for non-Portuguese speakers – while you may not follow the dialogue, you'll have the chance to explore a historic building, given protected status in 1992, in a multi-use complex called Vila Maria Zélia.
The Vila was built in 1917 with the aim of providing a better quality of life to the factory employees of the Companhia Nacional de Tecidos de Juta, a textile company. Houses, shops, two schools and even a church – a strategic location point in Grupo XIX's play – were constructed as part of Vila Maria Zélia. The complex has been home to the theatre company since 2004.
In Nada Aconteceu, Tudo Acontece, Tudo está Acontecendo audience members are treated as wedding guests. Preceeding her walk down the aisle, Alaíde spends two hours debating her move, conflicted with doubts about life with her fiancé. The play is co-directed by Fernando Marques and Janaina Leite, and the text written by the group themselves in conjunction with Alexandre Dal Farra.