Rádio Cultura AM – Situation Of the Project

Rádio Cultura AM – Situation Of the Project

Interview given by Zé Celso Martinez Correa
Media: Rádio Cultura AM
Reporter: Marilú Cabañas
Date: January 24th, 2005


Marilú: Zé Celso, we have been following the trajectory of your struggle with the Silvio Santos Group, and it has been – as far as Ive been able to see – a very exciting struggle, which have shown that you are a very persistent person, that you have guts, that you are fully committed in defending the Oficina Theatre. What has happened now – we have read something in the newspapers, what are the facts? Have you already come to a satisfactory agreement, or is there still a way to go? What is the situation today?

Zé: Its a struggle on behalf of the Oficina and the Bixiga district, and its also a fight against the thirst of property speculation which devastates the cities, above all a city like São Paulo, which is perhaps the city most severely devastated by property speculation. So its a fight on behalf of the district and of the theatre which has an universal character. And this fight – with the visit of Silvio Santos, we could see that a big change has happened after 25 years, because now Silvio Santos was able to perceive things which the Group Silvio Santos has not been able to see for many years, even in audiences at courts on environmental issues. Silvio Santos was here and he saw the grandiosity of the theatre. He said he had never entered this space because he thought it was very small, and he was surprised to see how big it is, its height, its mobile roof. And he was surprised by the way he was welcomed. He showed an extraordinary interest. I couldexplain the project in clear terms to him and I feel he has understood its dimensions, not only regarding the district, but also the international dimensions of the project. After that they hired these architects, who are very good indeed, they have worked with Lina [Lina Bo Bardi ? she was an internationally famous architect and died a few years ago]. One of them is Marcelo Suzuki, who had made the first drawings of the stadium theatre together with Lina, before Silvio Santos even began to think of buying the Oficina. Well, they started to set up the project. They are working together with the Silvio Santos Group and obviously now there is the strong pressure of speculation, because each millimetre and each centimetre has to be discussed in terms of profitability, a short-term profitability. I think this project will become either a rather conventional project or a project of great importance for the whole world. It not only will be a postal card for the city, but also a place in the world which will prove that its possible to overcome determinations and fatalities imposed on big cities by property speculation. And it could really become an example of beauty, a point of attraction in the world. But considering the first meeting I had last week, it may also remain a mediocre thing. This meeting has been recorded and we will put it in our Web site. And we want to open up our Web site to discussions. It was a meeting of heated discussions, and right from the beginning there were many things I didn?t agree with,and others I did agree with. And it ended with the unanimous decision to set up a kind of council. We gathered people like Modesto Carvalhosa, our lawyer, and Contardo Calligaris, and the whole Oficina ensemble, including Bete Milan. The other day we hadthe participation of Eduardo Suplicy [Senator of the Brazilian Republic]. All these people are following up our project, and in the end it was unanimously decided to submit the project to the municipality for approval on January 31th. But it?s going to be only an approval of the volumetric analysis, not a definitive approval. I decided to agree based on trust – trust in two things: first, in the feeling of mutual confidence which Silvio Santos has transmitted to me and the understanding I think he now has got for the project, and second, in the support the project has gained from a good part of the public opinion.


Presently there are discussions going on within the public opinion. First, there were some news in the press, one article in the ?Estado de São Paulo? and two articles in the ?Folha de São Paulo?. At?Folha?, the subject was published on the cover, together with a drawing, and this has led to a huge polemic. In a sense I find this polemic very interesting. There is something ingenuous about it, on the part of those who are not in midst of the fire, who are not involved in the fighting. It?s a harsher fight than if you were in Israel or in Palestine. The fight with the capital is very difficult ? not in regard to the people, to the capitalists, but in regard to the own logic of the capital. It?s very hard for you to convince others that the capital is not so important from the economic point of view and in terms of immediate profitability ? important is what the capital will mean in the long run. I have the impression that if things turn out the way I intend, as the Oficina intends, as Lina intended, this will have an importance as great as the Uffizi museum of Florence had ? the Uffizi museum, which means the museum of the ?oficina? [workshop in Portuguese] and which was given to Prince Cosimo by a grand-grand-grand-grand-mother of Silvio Santos, from the Abravanel family, and which is considered to be one of the most importantmuseums of the world. This means capital, tourism, profitability, knowledge. It?s a form of capital that is less immediate, but which in the end produces a much bigger profit. Here lies the problem we are dealing with. Evidently it was extraordinary for me to see the absolute change of quality after 25 years, that is, during all these years the Silvio Santos Group presented a series of projects, one of them transferring parts of the land plot to the Oficina. But those were projects to which I could not give way to. Even if sometimes the architects would tell me: ?you should give way to it because they are giving you two times the space of the theatre?, but I did not agree to it because it didn?t correspond to the stadium theatre idea.


This project has an interesting feature. A stone will be cast in the middle, so that the theatre will no longer look like a shopping centre stand; rather, it will become the centre, the square, the Mecca, where the architectural happening takes place. This stone is still being shaped by Marcelo Suzuki. And Lina always talked of ?terreiro? soil [?terreiro? is an outdoor place where rituals of candomblé or umbanda are practised], she talked of a street, of a Milan theatre gallery leading to Silvio Santos? catacomb. Even with this idea of a Silvio Santos? catacomb she imagined a stadium full of holes, just as the Coliseum, because she liked holes, as for example the holes of the SESC [theatre owned by the Social Service for Trade], which she nicknamed Beirut and which today she would call the holes of Falluja, Iraq. I want it to be a completely holed stone. The stone is being made of cement, clay, earth, but it gives the idea of a stone, which I am very fond of because it makes me think ofthe Greek theatre and the first theatre stadiums, where the grandstands were carved from stone. The Greek theatre was carved in stone and this accounted for the good sound quality. That is more or less what will happen. However, for the time being there are no holes in the drawing. For the time being – and that is something I think is even worse and which was rightly noted by Mariana ? well, a stadium theatre has to be open to the four corners of the city, because it is a crossroads. It has to have an opening to the Santo Amaro street, another one to the Abolição street, one to the Jaceguai street and the other to the Japurá street, because it?s a public monument after all. This project has also something of an Italian stage, of a church saint with no back. I think that such a monument has to have buttocks, it has to have a whole body, it must be visible from the four corners, it cannot be something opened up to just one side. So I fight for this, I fight for the shopping centre itself to be opened to the four corners of the city. And foremost I fight for this theatre to have its breath open to the four corners of the city. We didn?t conquered the Abolição street yet, that means, in the present project of the shopping centre there is no access to the theatre trough the Abolição street. As a matter of fact, I consider this stadium theatre as the DNA of other stadium theatres which will be build. And the DNA of the stadium theatre is always very important, because it has to contain the qualities of all which will come in future. In reality, I wanted a stadium of 15 thousand seats, but this one will have thousand seats. This doesnt really upset me, because I know it?s a process, something that needs a practical exercise and has to be improved to go on growing. I hope this idea willexpand with the expansion of the theatre itself, in proportion to its relationship to music, to dance, and to the digital revolution, and with the ascent of the Brazilian people, of this culture, which is a world-wide culture, the culture of race mixture.This kind of theatre will expand not only in Brazil, but in the world. So much that we want to see here a place where a world-wide biennial festival – at least – will be performed. But the theatre isnt ready yet. They had a difficult fight to achieve this space, so that the theatre for example would have its own sky, that it would not be an insertion in the body of a shopping centre. Well, the architects came along, exhausted by this fight, and presented that, but I still feel the whole shopping centre isgiving a too tight embrace. There has to be more room. Another thing is that they think that we are still in discussions. So I want that the West side wall of the theatre, which has a big window, opens up through doors. That it opens up directly to the stadium, and that the Oficina theatre becomes what the Greek would call “skene”, which is the stage place in the Greek theatre, where the gods and the protagonists appeared. And then there is a circle, which is the orchestra, where the choir is located. I want this theatre as a Greek theatre, with level curves, I want it swinging – a swaying theatre, as if it were a bass-drum-drome [joke with the word ?sambódromo?, where the samba schools parade during Carnival], because we are going to use both the spaces ofthe orchestra as well as of the scene to make the productions. It will be a theatre to act on through and through, as if it had many hills, many segments. That is why I first thought of calling Oscar Niemeyer. I wanted Niemeyer because of the curves, because I wanted a swaying Greek theatre. We haven?t come to that yet. This all Marcelo Suzuki will put in detail. Another aspect is: in the first version, there were two domes, one located just right above the stage, which gave not the idea of a stadium, because if you walk in a stadium, the first thing you see is the vastness, you see the roundness, you see everybody, you see the open sky. Sure, if its raining, you?ll close it. Today there is a beautiful highly advanced technology – because of the Olympic Games – and I want the theatre that way. In this drawing there is still a small dome and another one, which in reality is designed for a small theatre of 100 seats, quite nice, with a view to all of the city. But I think this can be done covering a part of the stadium – as there are those places which are more expensive, which stay protected from the sun. The best is really the visibility, the open sky. With a dome which opens and closes and which at the same time is a projection screen, which may be used with all the inventions provided by the digital revolution. A dome which even on sunny days may be easily closed, as does the mobile roof here at the stage of the Oficina, so that one can make projections on it.