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Pernambuco Amateur Theatre (TAP) and Valdemar de Oliveira Theatre

The TAP was without a doubt a creation of the doctor Valdemar de Oliveira, appearing by chance.

Pernambuco Amateur Theatre (TAP) and Valdemar de Oliveira Theatre

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Last update: 19/03/2020

By: Semira Adler Vainsencher - N/I

The appearance of the Valdemar de Oliveira Theatre is confused with the story of the Pernambuco Amateur Theatre (TAP). In this sense, it is very difficult to speak of one without mentioning the other. The TAP was without a doubt a creation of the doctor Valdemar de Oliveira, appearing by chance.

How did it all happen?

Firstly, the playwright Samuel Campelo created the Gente Nossa Group on 2 August 1931. The Group was founded in the Santa Isabel Theatre, and it premiered in Recife with his own play A Honra da Tia [The Aunt’s Honour], which was a great hit. Gente Nossa, on the other hand, was under the responsibility of the Children’s Theatre, whose first play was A Princesa Rosalinda [Princess Rosalind], on 26 March 1939. It was directed by its writer, Valdemar de Oliveira.

Approximately two years after the appearance of the Children’s Theatre, on the occasion of the centennial of the Pernambuco Society of Medicine, Otávio Freitas – then president of the entity – called the doctor and friend Valdemar de Oliveira for a private conversation: he wanted to create a cultural event to celebrate the occasion. The latter decided to be bold and suggested staging a play. The chairman then asked if he was insane. Dr Valdemar de Oliveira, however, did not hesitate for a second: he gathered his own family and friends and staged the play Dr Knock, written by the Frenchman Jules Romains.

At the time, one of its greatest challenges was the fight against prejudice. This is because actors and actresses were not well regarded by society. The former had no social rank, and the latter were considered as having suspicious behaviour. In the first half of the 20th century, no one would allow a woman to enter on stage. Nor did female representatives enrol in universities and work outside the home. To make things worse, theatre was considered as a low-class art. Even in these circumstances, Valdemar de Oliveira was never intimidated: he decided to invite only doctors and their respective wives to join the cast of the show he set out to stage.

The play Dr Knock was a great artistic, social and financial success. In this way, the Pernambuco Amateur Theatre was formed, a group that was forged and shaped in the ideals of Samuel Campelo, Valdemar de Oliveira’s greatest idol. The first official TAP presentation, however, was dated 4 April 1941. Only then did the group gain cultural status in Recife.

TAP was created as a department of the Gente Nossa Group, but independent of the professional cast. Once again: it was the admiration for the competence and idealism of Samuel Campelo that made Valdemar de Oliveira create the Amateur Theatre. Since its founding more than sixty years ago, more than eight hundred (800) actors and actresses have performed in the group as amateur artists.

As for the artistic and musical directors of TAP since its inception, they are listed alphabetically: Adacto Filho, Alfredo de Oliveira, Adhelmar de Oliveira Sobrinho, Bibi Ferreira, Clenio Wanderley, Clóvis Pereira, Fernando de Oliveira, Flamínio Bollini Cerri, Geninha Sá da Rosa Borges, Graça Melo, Guedes Peixoto, Hermilo Borba Filho, Luciana Lyra, Luís de Lima, Jorge Kossowski, Milton Baccarelli, Nelson Ferreira, Raul Antônio, Reinaldo de Oliveira, Renato Phaelante, Ricardo Mourão, Rogério Costa, Valdemar de Oliveira, Valter de Oliveira, Vanda Phaelante, Willy Keler, Zbignief Ziembinski and Zigmunt Turkof.

The Valdemar de Oliveira Theatre, in turn, is located at 412 Praça Osvaldo Cruz in the neighbourhood of Boa Vista, in front of the Pernambuco Society of Medicine. It was built by the Oliveira family, has four hundred (400) seats and was originally called Nosso Teatro [Our Theatre]. In the hall of the main theatre are two paintings by Murillo LaGreca: a portrait of the Count of Boa Vista and another of the engineer Louis Vauthier.

On 23 May 1971, the Amateur Theatre began to call ‘Our Theatre’ the ‘Valdemar de Oliveira Theatre’, as a fair tribute to its founder. Besides being a doctor and professor, Valdemar de Oliveira was also a lawyer, hygienist, musicologist, writer, director and art critic.

To this day, the Valdemar de Oliveira Theatre maintains a family-like structure. In it, actors are not treated as tools for scenes, but as a relevant part of the group. The work of the cast, on the other hand, remains philanthropic: all financial capital, after the costs of staging and the payment of fixed personnel – secretaries, stage crew, archives – are reverted to several non-profit entities.

In other words, the income of TAP (its profit), in any show that it stages, as established in its own statute, is intended to assist a series of social associations in several states, including educational facilities, asylums, leprosariums, social action crusades, institutes of protection and child care, and others. For example, in Recife the income of the Amateur Theatre goes to the Pedro II Maternity Hospital, the Medical Society, the Christ the Redeemer Shelter, the Institute of the Blind and the Pinto Júnior Normal School Administrative Fund.

Although not a general rule, audience laughter indicates that many of the shows presented by TAP tend to be comedies as well as regional. In this sense, it is important to note that the play Um sábado em trinta [One Saturday in the 1930s], by Luiz Marinho, ran for twenty-nine (29) years. And the play The Inspector Calls by the English writer J. B. Priestley had the largest number of presentations.

The Pernambuco Amateur Theatre has already built its own theatre, performed fifty-four (54) tours in more than twenty-eight (28) Brazilian cities, staged one hundred and ten (110) original ones benefiting more than one hundred (100) Social institutions. In 1953, it took to some plays to Rio de Janeiro, including The House of Bernarda Alba by Garcia Lorca, Sangue Velho [Old Blood] by Aristóteles Soares and Valdemar de Oliveira, and Dangerous Corner by J. B. Priestley. Besides these playwrights, it has also staged works by Molière, Tennessee Williams, Thornton Wilder, Arthur Miller, Oscar Wilde, Eugene O’Neill and Dias Gomes.

Formed through idealism, the Pernambuco Amateur Theatre and Valdemar de Oliveira Theatre are important landmarks in the state and in the country, being respected by all those who love the theatre. The TAP, on the one hand, was engendered through a revolutionary character, and the Valdemar de Oliveira Theatre, on the other, is its legitimate child.

Still insisting on surviving the echoes of the past, maintaining their unique style, non-profit goals and family spirit, both have definitely achieved a place in the History of Brazil. Finally, the stage means not only an arena, a mere place of work for the state’s amateur artists: it remains, like a flag unfurled, the source of their greatest dreams, and the Valdemar de Oliveira Theatre, welcoming all, their own home.

Recife, 17 July 2003.
Translated by Peter Leamy, December 2016.

sources consulted

FRANCA, Rubem. Monumentos do Recife: estátuas e bustos, igrejas e prédios, placas e inscrições históricas do Recife. Recife: Secretaria de Educação e Cultura, 1977.

FUNDAÇÃO de Cultura Cidade do Recife: teatros. Disponível em Acesso em: 11 nov. 2002.

SANTA CRUZ, Angélica; BENFICA, Miguel. O sucesso do TAP parece ser eterno. Veja. São Paulo, n.29, p. 6-8, jul. 1992.

OLIVEIRA, Valdemar. Teatro de Amadores de Pernambuco. Disponível em Acesso em: 20 nov. 2002.

how to quote this text

Source: VAINSENCHER, Semira Adler. Teatro de Amadores de Pernambuco e Teatro Valdemar de Oliveira.Pesquisa Escolar Online, Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, Recife. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: dia  mês ano. Ex: 6 ago. 2009.