Our second project partner in Salvador, Brazil, ‘A Ao Quadrado’ (E Squared) is a cultural arts group. Their mission is to empower and educate young people and the wider community through the artistic activities of expressive dance, music and theatre. They work directly with 100 children (age 6-12) and young people (age 13-18) and have two theatre groups, two music groups, a dance group and a choir. Workshops are given for free and each month they address a social issue by incorporating it into their workshops to generate understanding, discussion and to work as a platform to initiate debate amongst the wider community.
The project leader, Elizete Cardoso, has lived in the community most of her life and after a local donation they have their own centre and have staged many performances which have been developed as a result of the desire to create theatre, and to use it to give a voice to marginalised people. The ways in which they develop their performances are not simply about engaging the broader community with important messages – they powerfully develop individual confidence and life skills in the young people who are involved in the productions themselves.
One of their most successful projects was to create a prize-winning performance which addressed health issues and the prevention of HIV/AIDS and which was presented to different communities around Salvador as part of a government health awareness programme. Another performance, “Shock Colour Pink”, tackled respect & tolerance concerning gender & equality and was shown for a season at the main Salvador theatre, Teatro Vila Velha. As a result of the funding Bottletop has provided, the group have written a new play about the dangers of teenage pregnancy which is being performed in the community.
“Before the play (about teenage pregnancy) I thought pregnancy was just pregnancy. I had no idea that it could bring me much greater problems in life” Ana Rosa, 14 years old.