The percussion collective Maracatu Baque de Bamba is a locally based troupe that perform Maracatu music in public Toronto spaces from Queen Street to Kensington Market and wherever people will listen. The rhythms are distinctively Afro-Brazilian and hearken to a time of slave liberation. At this year’s SummerWorks Festival, Baque de Bamba bring their stories and their rhythms to Toronto audiences in MARACATU YOU! Prepare to dance.
This show is more concert than theatre. In this show, the music takes centre stage and the dialogue is a history lesson both cultural and personal. Lead by Juno-nominated Aline Morales who founded the troupe, her soulful voice rises up to greet the crowd in beautiful Portugese. The troupe responds with drums, shakers, cow bells, stomping feet, clapping hands and song.
When you arrive at the door, the volunteer who takes your ticket also offers you cotton balls — for sticking in your ears to muffle the noise. “It’s going to get loud”, she warns you. That alone tells me that this is something that’ll surely leave an impression, and may even include audience participation — if they’re going to play music, they’re going to want people to dance.
Woven through the infectious percussive beat that feels instantly ancient and primal, the audience learns of the Afro-Brazilian roots of Maracatu, of its Yoruban spiritual origins and how it became the communal voice of African slaves brought to Brazil who fought to preserve their religion and culture.
The audience also learns the personal history of the members of Baque de Bamba, about their lives before and after discovering Maracatu music. This is, unfortunately, where the performance started to lose me. At this point, I was overcome with the distinct impression that I was being preached at with multiple stories of being lost and troubled, struggling to find truth and meaning before Maracatu saved their lives.
And though I have no doubt of it — it’s not the first time music mixed with spirituality touched someone’s life for the better and it certainly won’t be the last — spending a good half hour of the performance hearing testimonial after testimonial is overwhelming and rather uncomfortable.
But if anything, come for the music. The music sells this performance alone, and as the music brings people to their feet, spilling out onto the front lawn of The Theatre Centre, you realize it’s worth the ticket price.
MARACATU YOU! is performing at the Theatre Centre Mainspace (1115 Queen Street West)
Sunday August 10, 7:00pm
Monday August 11, 5:00pm
Thursday August 14, 7:30pm
Friday August 15, 5:00pm
Saturday August 16, 12:00pm
Sunday August 17, 6:30pm
All individual SummerWorks tickets are $15 at the door (cash only). Tickets are available online, By phone by calling the Ticketwise Call Centre at 416-907-0468, in person at the SummerWorks Info Booth – located at The Theatre Centre (1115 Queen Street West) August 5th-17th from 10AM – 7PM (Advance tickets are $15 + service fee)
Several money-saving passes are available if you plan to see at least 3 shows
Photo by Alejandra Higuera