[ONLINE] University of Aveiro, Portugal

October 21, 22 and 23 2020

Tearing Bodies: Woman and Fiction in The Work of Maria Lysia Corrêa de Araújo

Heleniara Amorim Moura

The research referenced in this article was built from the organization of the Maria Lysia Corrêa de Araújo’s Collection, set present in the Acervos Teatrais da Universidade Federal de São João del-Rei (Theatrical Collections of the Federal University of São João del-Rei), donated by the writer’s family in 2012. The ordering and analysis took place between 2012 and 2015 in doctoral studies at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (Federal University of Minas Gerais), and were completed in research projects of the Instituto Federal de Minas Gerais (Federal Institute of Minas Gerais) – Campus Ouro Branco between the years 2018 and 2019. Minas Gerais’ artist Maria Lysia Corrêa de Araújo (1921- 2012) produced a diverse literature, presenting a set of literary composition in various genres such as theater criticism, chronicle, romance and short story. In addition, as an actress, she was present in expressive montages from the 1960s, not only at EAD (School of Dramatic Art of São Paulo), but also in important theater groups such as Arena, Oficina, Cia Maria-Della Costa, Cia. Tônia-Autran, among others. She worked with directors such as José Celso Martinez, Augusto Boal, Alfredo Mesquita, in addition to staging plays of deep ideological content in an era of silencing and coercion of civil rights in Brazil. Thus, this article brings a later look to a research of almost a decade on the life and work of Maria Lysia Corrêa de Araújo, with new demarcations on the gender issue and a cut, albeit late, of the artistic material of this woman who crossed decades in the performing and literary arts, in a deeply sexist, misogynistic and repressive country. The gender issue in the writer’s work often appears in a kind of inadequacy of female bodies to a conservative, patriarchal and repressive world: women in solitude, or in suffocating relationships, characters lost in a fictional and theatrical universe of isolation, violence and incomprehension in which the characters’ physical bodies begin to disintegrate towards nonexistence. In these “written bodies”, alluding to the term of Michel Foucault, artistic and literary images condense the cultural, social and historical aspects demarcated in female identities that express, in an overwhelming language, defined limit experiences in the presence of these bodies in the world. Women in the writer’s fictional universe, both in their narratives and in their plays, express experiences outlined in bodies and voices that resist the diversity of their records in literary and social discourse, in a political moment when the bodies of artists were torn apart not only for the physical repression in the dictatorial period, but also for the censorship of their works. In this context of violence implanted by the military dictatorship in Brazil, the work of the writer reflects a literature of unrest and incomprehension in the language of fantastic realism, one of the few possible narrative forms to support the historical weight of that time. On stage, Maria Lysia Corrêa de Araújo conceived a dramatic literature based on the Teatro do Absurdo (Theather of the Absurd), brought to Brazil in the estate of foreign artists, condensed in images of death and loneliness. Thus, the writer, enmeshed in fantastic literature and the theater of the non-sense, brought to the writing scene, female characters that incorporated the destruction of the body and the existential emptiness. By also lending her physical body as a woman to highly significant shows in that historical context, Maria Lysia joins the group of artists who resisted her time, denouncing not only anti-democratic issues but also the prejudices of gender demarcation arising from that society. In his work, subjectivities appear as the main focus and human relationships become a substance for the composition of a singular writing based on images of these “written bodies”.

Keywords: Maria Lysia Corrêa de Araújo; Written bodies; Teather; Literature; Woman.