The reality of her homeland’s lurch to the far-right has seen artists branded as leftists and criminals, laments Brazilian director Christiane Jatahy, who only wishes her theatre piece on migration were actually fiction.
The documentary-style work by the 51-year-old Rio-born Jatahy is loosely based on Homer’s Odyssey, taking as its theme the travails of exiled refugee protagonists for whom the past is as harrowing as their future is uncertain.
In “The Lingering Now”, Jatahy carefully examines the painful complexities of a refugee’s existence that earned her a standing ovation at the Avignon Festival in southern France.
There, she denounced what she termed a “campaign of criminalization” of artists in her own country since the arrival in Brazil’s presidential palace in January of former army captain Jair Bolsonaro.
“It’s a very difficult time to do theatre and cinema,” explains Jatahy. “They have cut subsidies, it’s a means of gagging us,” she tells AFP, having at times during the production appearing to be on the verge of tears.
“There is a campaign of criminalisation of artists, labelling them as being leftist. It’s such an old trope,” she adds.