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Irish theatre, both classic and contemporary, has been captivating the Brazilian public for more than a century.

Salome (1896), by Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), was produced at the Municipal Theatre of Rio de Janeiro in 1920. Since then Wilde has deeply engaged the Brazilian public with his spirited and critical plays. The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), considered to be Wilde’s theatrical masterpiece, was produced by the Brazilian Comedy Theatre (Teatro Brasileiro de Comédia – TBC) in 1950. In 2002, Eduardo Tolentino brought this satirical text back to the stage with the TAPA theatre group.

Pygmalion (1913) was the first play by George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) produced in Brazil – at the Municipal Theatre of São Paulo in 1927. Shaw’s theatre of ideas continues to fascinate Brazilian theatregoers with works such as The Doctor’s Dilemma (1906), which was presented by the Círculo de Atores, directed by Clara Carvalho, in 2023.

Many plays from the repertory of the Abbey Theatre – Ireland’s national theatre – have been staged in Brazil. Highlights include: The Shadow of the Glen (1904), by John Millington Synge (1871-1909), directed by Maria Clara Machado, with translation by Oswaldino Marques, at the Tablado theatre, in 1956; and Juno and the Paycock (1924), by Sean O’Casey (1880-1964), directed by Augusto Boal, with translation by Manuel Bandeira, at the Arena Theatre, in 1957.

The best-known work of Samuel Beckett (1906-1989), Waiting for Godot (1953), was translated by Esther Mesquita and directed by Alfredo Mesquita, at the Escola de Arte Dramática and at the TBC, in 1955, and its tragicomic existentialism continues to inspire directors today. The production by José Celso Martinez Corrêa, at the Teatro Oficina and Sesc Pompeia, in 2022, confirmed that Beckett can still be recognised as contemporary.

Marina Carr (1964-) is one of the few Irish women playwrights who has been produced in Brazil. Her modern tragedy By the Bog of Cats… (1998), translated by Alinne Fernandes and directed by Domingos Nunez, was presented as a dramatic reading by Cia Ludens in 2017.

The repertory of Cia Ludens, a Brazilian theatre company that produces exclusively Irish theatre, directed by Domingos Nunez, includes plays by Shaw, Yeats, Synge, O’Casey, Brian Friel, Tom Murphy, Marie Jones, Vincent Woods, Owen McCafferty, Hugo Hamilton, Mary Raftery, Colin Murphy and Rosaleen McDonagh. With this repertory, Cia Ludens has enchanted audiences in Brazil – and even in Ireland!