They may not be crooning cats, singing sailors, or inner-city gang members with a flair for dance, but that's not stopping indigenous Amazonian tribesmen from landing a musical of their very own. The production, called Amazonas, premiered in Germany over the weekend. It centers around the Yanomami, one of the largest remaining tribes in Brazil, and the plight that they face their from unscrupulous developers, forest fires, and climate change. These real-life threats make the rowdy Jets and Sharks seem like, well, just a bunch of guys dancing.
According to The Guardian, the production took four years and million of dollars to realize. On hand during development were five shamans from the Yanomami tribe themselves to help consult producers on the unique challenges they face in their native Amazon rainforest.
The show is the brainchild of the Brazilian sociologist Laymert Garcia dos Santos. So often, the threats facing the Amazon are reduced to facts and figures of forest loss, which is why Santos wanted to communicate the human impact of it all, telling The Guardian:
It is an attempt to arouse a reaction to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest through emotion, rather than through the cold numbers of statistics. It's a scientifically established fact that the forest's destruction will have repercussions on the entire planet, but this still hasn't shocked people into stopping the process. So the idea is to immerse the spectator in the situation, so they can feel with their senses what is happening and be affected by it.
Presented in three acts, Amazonas begins with a grim vision of the future--a time in which the world's largest rainforest has been completely decimated. In the next act, the Yanomami shaman battle evil forces in spirit world, an allusion to tribes tradition belief system, before ultimately being killed by them. Finally, the show presents the world today, which has the opportunity to preserve the Amazon and the Yanomami who call the forest 'home'.
After playing in Munich, the production will travel to several other venues in Europe before arriving in Brazil--where dos Santos hopes to perform it in the Amazon.