Maria Eugênia Franco de Sá da Rosa Borges, better-known as Geninha da Rosa Borges, the first lady of Pernambuco theatre, was born in Recife on 21 June 1922, to Edgard Autran Franco de Sá and Maria Emília Fioch Pinto Franco de Sá. As well as working in the education field, Geninha gave theatrical performances in Brazil and abroad.
She studied at Colégio São José and graduated in Anglo-Germanic Letters and Pedagogy from the Recife Faculty of Philosophy (FAFIRE). She did her post-graduation in Tele-education in the United States and Japan. Creator of the Pernambuco State Tele-educative System, she held various positions in the State’s Secretary of Education. She was the co-ordinator of the Education System for Radio and Television (SERTE), head of the Education Centre for Radio and TV (CERTE), and director of the Department of Technological Resources for Education (DERTE).
From 1983, after the disbanding of the Ministries of Education, Geninha remained at the call of the Pernambuco State Secretary of Culture, due to her many years of dedication to the theatre as an actress and show director. In this cultural area, she held the positions of Director of Events at the Recife City Museum; Director of Santa Isabel Theatre (1983-1986; 1991-1992; 1994-2000); and Supervisor of Scenic Arts at the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation’s Institute of Cultural Affairs from 1986 to 1991.
Her first experience with theatre was in 1941, in the play Noite de estrelas (Starry Night). Having liked her performance, Valdemar de Oliveira invited her to join the founding group of Teatro de Amadores de Pernambuco (Pernambuco Amateur Theatre) (TAP).
Under the direction of Valdemar de Oliveira, the play Primerose premiered in 1941 at the Pernambuco Amateur Theatre. Geninha never turned her back on the group where she gave life to over 68 characters. She also worked with other groups like the Teatro de Arena (Arena Theatre) of Alfredo de Oliveira and the Teatro Popular do Nordeste (Northeast Popular Theatre) (TPN) of Hermilo Borba Filho.
As an actress, she did an internship in London and in Paris for the British Council, visiting Art Academies in Bristol and Stratford-upon-Avon. At TAP, she worked with some of the most important names of Brazilian theatre, such as Ziembinski, Bollini, Graça Melo and Bibi Ferreira, who came to Recife at the invitation of Valdemar de Oliveira. She also acted as set director in several shows, for example:
O Menino Atrasado (The Late Child) by Cecília Meireles, with music by Capiba, at the 1st Festival of Pernambuco Children’s Theatre, 1963.
Jogos na Hora Sesta (Games at Nap Time) by Romeu Mahieu, at TAP, 1980.
Oratório da Paixão (Oratory of Passion), by Maria do Carmo Barreto Campello de Melo, 1980.
A Promessa (The Promise), by Luiz de Marinho, 1983.
Lágrimas Amargas de Petra Von Kant (The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant), by Fassbinder, 1987.
Morte e Vida Severina (Death and Life of Severina), at the José Carlos Cavalcanti Borges theatre, Fundaj, 1990.
She also made her presence in movies, participating in various films, among which the following stand out:
Paraíba, mulher macho (Paraíba, Macho Woman), by Tizuca Yamasaki.
O Baile Perfumado (The Perfumed Ball), by Lírio Ferreira.
A Partida (Leaving), by Sandra Ribeiro.
Olegário Mariano, by Marcelo Peixoto.
Nós sofre mas nós goza (We Suffer But We Make Fun), by Sandra Ribeiro.
As an actress, she appeared in many plays, among which the following must be mentioned:
A Exilada (The Exiled), by Kistemaekers, 1941.
A Comédia do Coração (The Comedy of the Heart), by Paulo Gonçalves, 1944.
A Dama da Madrugada (The Lady of the Dawn), by Alejandro Casona, 1945.
A Casa de Bernarda Alba (The House of Bernada Alba), by Garcia Lorca, 1948.
Esquina Perigosa (Dangerous Corner), by J.B. Priestley, 1949.
O Poço do Rei (The King’s Well), by José Carlos Cavalcanti Borges, 1950.
Um Século de Glória (A Century of Glory), by Waldemar de Oliveira, 1950.
Vestido de Noiva (Bridal Gown), by Nelson Rodrigues, 1955.
A Comédia de Balzac (Balzac’s Comedy), by José Carlos Cavalcanti Borges, 1957.
A Pena e a Lei (Punishment and the Law), by Ariano Suassuna, 1959.
O Tempo e os Conways (Time and the Conways), by J.B. Priestley, 1960.
O Marido Domado (The Tamed Husband), by Ariano Suassuna, 1962.
Uma Pedra no Sapato (A Stone in the Shoe), by Feydeau, 1968.
O Processo de Jesus (The Prosecution of Jesus), by Diego Fabri, 1971.
O Milagre de Anne Sullivan (The Miracle Worker), by William Gibson, 1975.
O Peru (The Turkey), by Feydeau, 1984.
Um Sábado em 30 (A Saturday in 30), by Luiz Marinho, 1971.
Sábado, Domingo e Segunda (Saturday, Sunday and Monday), by Eduardo de Felippo, 1996.
She is a Member of the Pernambuco Academy of Arts and Letters (AALPE) and the Brazilian Union of Writers (UBE). She has published several books, among which are: Práticas Educativas... essa disciplina (Educative Practices… This Discipline); Por que Ginásios modernos? (Why Modern Schools?); De 1962 a 1968 exames de madureza no Estado de Pernambuco (From 1962 to 1968: Maturity Exams in the State of Pernambuco); Produção e recepção na Teleducação de adultos (Production and Reception of Adult Tele-education).
Geninha is always active, whether in or out of theatre. Besides having participated in films, shows and dozens of theatrical plays, in 2004 she performed in the soap opera Da cor do Pecado (The Colour of Sin) alongside Ney Latorraca and Maitê Proença, on Rede Globo, and in 2009 on the soap opera A Favorita (The Favourite), also on Rede Globo. Currently she is looking to transform the house she lived in for decades into an educational space dedicated to artistic and cultural manifestations, and especially theatre. This space will also house the actress’ entire personal collection.
Trivia: According to a note in the Diario de Pernambuco, on 27 April 2009, Geninha da Rosa Borges had a pizza named after her, created by Luiz Cláudio Carvalho, of Cipó Nativo.
Recife, 30 April 2009.
Translated by Peter Leamy, February 2011.
GENINHA da Rosa Borges. Disponível em: <http://www.pe-az.com.br/subsecao_ler.php?id=NTU5>. Acesso em: 27 jan. 2009.
ICLB – Instituto Cultural Ladjane Bandeira. Disponível em: <http://www.ladjanebandeira.org/v8/geninha.html> Acesso em: 7 abr. 2009.
REIS, Augusto Luís. Bravo Geninha! Continente Multicultural, Recife, ano 4, n. 48, p. 78-81, dez. 2004.
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Source: ANDRADE, Maria do Carmo. Geninha da Rosa Borges. Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar_en/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.