THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JESUS, QUEEN OF HEAVEN – WITH RENATA CARVALHO
COM Renata Carvalho
BRAZIL, 2016 | 60min | Parental Rating: 16+
©Luciane Pires Ferreira
Renata Carvalho, actress and activist from Santos, performs Jesus and recreates its history as a transsexual in this Brazilian adaptation of the text by British Jo Clifford – who also presents her show The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven at MITsp. The work is based on one of the rocks of Christian rhetoric: acceptance; to think on the relations between art and society, and on the power of trans playwrights in confronting structural mechanisms of exclusion. The Brazilian version, which was censored and had presentations officially banned (accused of disrespect to religion), rescues an underground world from the streets. The artist’s raw performance brings out her transvestite identity, defying the public to understand the suffering caused by stigma and marginalisation.
Renata Carvalho is an actress, playwright, director and researcher of the trans body in the arts (transpologist). She founded Coletivo T (the first group to be formed entirely by trans artists in São Paulo) and MONART (National Movement of Trans Artists), which, in 2017, launched the Trans Representation Manifesto. In 2012, she took part in the works ZONA!, Projeto Bispo and Nossa Vida Como Ela É, in addition to productions for television and cinema. She performed in The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven (which was widely censored in Brazil) and Domínio Público (a performance that brought together four Brazilian artists to stage, who were targeted by attacks in 2017). Her show Transpophagic Manifesto, a co-production among Risco Festival, Corpo Rastreado and MITsp, premiered at MITsp in 2019.
As a Christian, Clifford translates, but doesn’t reduce the Nazarene. She suggests a “thesis play”, yet without the flaws that made the term meaning a distorted theatre by the interest of political or philosophical indoctrination. She greatly balances preaching itself with physical actions, music and powerful images, which owes much to the actress’ expressiveness. Transvestite and LGBT activist, Renata shows a lavish “overflow of fraternal love”. Love not only towards transphobia victims but also in an existential dimension, by proposing we are unity.
Clifford’s script is more prayer than play, staying faithful to its biblical source and translating it into the sparest of poetry made in her own image. Carvalho takes this and runs with it, donning a sparkly frock for the occasion as she brings the parables bang up to date. When sharing the sacraments, she brings home the full physical meaning of the devouring of the body and blood. It’s a meal served with joy, and we lap it up with wonder.
TEXT: Jo Clifford
PERFORMANCE: Renata Carvalho
TRANSLATION, ADAPTATION AND DIRECTION: Natalia Mallo
PRODUCTION: Corpo Rastreado
TECHNICAL DIRECTION: Juliana Augusta