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Synchretic Hamlet (Oliveira, 2005)

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Synchretic Hamlet

Hamlet Sincrético (Syncretic Hamlet, 2005) is a collaborative production by Grupo Caixa Petra that adapts Shakespeare’s Hamlet from a “black aesthetic”. It draws on Afro Brazilian cultural and religious syncretic elements as metaphors to retell Shakespeare’s tragedy. The production respects the linearity of the source play but does not reproduce its language which follows the particular nature of each character. The characters are incarnations of types or characters from Afro-Brazilian mythology and religions. For instance, while Hamlet’s role as the seeker of justice is associated with Xangô, the *orixá (or orisha) of justice and wisdom, the ghost is linked to Oxalá, the sky father orisha. Gertrudes is the queen of carnival and Polonius is characterized as a former *Candomblé priest converted into an evangelical preacher. Claudius is portrayed as Zé Pilintra, a folk character in the *Umbanda and *Catimbó traditions known for his bohemianism and wild partying.

The play was first performed at the São Pedro Psychiatric Hospital in Porto Alegre (Rio Grande do Sul state) where the pavilion, patio and corridors were used as stages to underscore racial, gender and ethnic injustices.

*Orixás (or orishas) are deities of the African Yoruba religion that are said to govern various aspects of the world.
*Candomblé is an Afro-Brazilian religion with origins in Yoruban religious rituals and beliefs.
*Umbanda is a cult that emerged in Rio de Janeiro in the 1930s and combines African possession religion with Catholicism, occultism, and Allan Kardec’s spiritualism.
*Catimbó is a syncretic cult that amalgamates religious and magic practices. It is most prevalent in the northeast of Brazil.



Director: Jessé Oliveira Elenco
Music director: Luiz André da Silva
Costume designer: Adriana Rodrigues, Gil Collares
Religion specialist: Baba Diba de Yemonjá
Light director : Miguel Tamarajó, Camila de Moraes, Jessé Oliveira
Production and press: Silvia Abreu
Cast: Adriana Rodrigues, Eder Santos, Flávio Oyá Tundê, Glau Barros, Juliano Barros, Kdoo Guerreiro, Leandro Daitx, Marcelo de Paula, Diego Neimar, Silvio Ramão, Silvia Duarte and Wagner Santos.


Click here to read an essay by Anna Camati (Global Shakespeares Editor for Brazil) about the production.



CAMATI, A. S. Hamlet sincrético, do Grupo Caixa-Preta: hibridismo cultural e espaço cênico alternativo. In: CLOSEL, Régis A, B.; MARIN, Ronaldo (Orgs.).Shakespeare 450 anosSão Paulo: Cena IV – Instituto Shakespeare Brasil, 2014, p. 149-164.

CAMATI, A. S. Brazilian Outdoor Shakespeares: Street Theatre as Public Art. Lapis Lazuli: An International Literary Journal. Commemorating 400 years of Shakespeare, v. 6, n. 1-2, p. 26-33, Spring /Autumn, 2016. <>

CAMATI, A. S. Perspectivas míticas em Hamlet sincrético. In: OLIVEIRA, Jessé.; LOPES, Vera (orgs). Hamlet sincrético – Em busca de um teatro negro. Porto Alegre: Caixa-Preta, 2019.


Production notes written by Cris Busato Smith.


Synchretic Hamlet

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