The name might have been fourteen, but his true vocation was freedom, which he found on stage. The paulistana Maria Alice Monteiro de Campos Vergueiro, better known as Maria Alice Vergueiro, died at the age of 85, in São Paulo, this Wednesday, 3, leaving a precious legacy on and off stage. She was admitted to Hospital da Clínicas for pneumonia treatment, and her body will be cremated on Thursday, in Itapecerica da Serra, according to her daughter Maria Silvia.

Pedagogue, teacher, actress and director, she trained students like Cacá Rosset, with whom she founded the irreverent Platypus Group (alongside the actor, now deceased, Luiz Roberto Galizia), participated in historical montages, such as O Rei da Vela, directed by José Celso Martinez Corrêa, and can be defined as the greatest experimental actress of his generation, in the sense of always being open to new authors and languages. He was an interpreter of classics (Shakespeare, Molière), modern (Brecht, García Lorca) and contemporary (Jodorowsky) with the same passion, the same dedication with which he entered the theater for the first time, in 1962, to participate in a production of The Mandrake , under the direction of Augusto Boal.

In more than half a century of theater, Maria Alice worked with great directors, in addition to the names already mentioned, from Gerald Thomas to Felipe Hirsch, opposite the best Brazilian actors (Paulo Autran, among them), but that did not turn her into a diva. Before, he liked to throw himself into new experiences alongside boys and girls of younger generations, always testing the limits of the audience – and, why not say, the limits themselves, even if it meant betraying a classic. Hence being called “underground muse” or “unworthy old lady”, a somewhat limiting title that does not do justice to the enormous talent and voice of the actress.

Example of the radicality of Maria Alice Vergueiro it was the show that staged the wake itself, Why the Horse? (2015), in which the actress faced her own death alongside the actor who accompanied her in all the last shows, Luciano Chirolli. Already limited by the sequels of Parkinson’s disease and in a wheelchair, Maria Alice, in 2015, wanted to die on stage, but was not attended to. The play reached more than 100 performances, fulfilling a season that, in two years, occupied several rooms. Why the Horse ?, not by chance, made references to Brecht and Jodorowsky, two authors with whom the actress is automatically associated.

Her first Brecht was the Ópera dos Três Vinténs, set up in 1964, two years after the actress’s debut and at the dawn of the military coup. Musical piece by Brecht and Kurt Weill, which opened in Berlin in 1931, adapted from the classic by John Gay, it showed the underworld of crime and prostitution as a political parable, which led the Nazi regime to take the show off the stage. Imagine at the time of the dictatorship the daughter of Nicolau Pereira de Campos Vergueiro Neto and Maria Antônia Borges, pentaneta of Senator Vergueiro, one of the most powerful politicians of the Empire of Brazil, parading in a play by Brecht in which the protagonist is Mackie Messer, a swindler who exploits prostitutes and teaches another bandit, Peachum, his enemy, to perfect the art of commanding a gang of beggar beggars. It was, of course, a scandal in the family. The break was inevitable.

Maria Alice preferred to be faithful to the theater. In the following ten years, always acting under the direction of José Celso Martinez Corrêa, he made other pieces by Brecht – this in full force of the military regime. In 1975, he participated in the historic montage of “Galileu Galilei” at Oficina, where the group Ornitorrinco was born, singing, of course, songs by Brecht and Weill (in 1977). That same year, the embryonic company won over critics with a bold play adapted from Strindberg’s A Mais Forte, which became Os Mais Fortes in the version of Cacá Rosset, director Maria Alice worked with most after they founded the Platypus together, traveling to several countries with the company and participating in important festivals such as the New York Shakespeare Festival, at the invitation of producer Joseph Papp (from A Chorus Line).

With Rosset, the actress was the woman abandoned by her lover in Jean Cocteau’s The Beautiful Indifferent in 1983, shortly after the tremendous success of Mahagonny Songspiel, staged in the same year by the group Platypus, so outrageous that the rights holder of the composer Kurt Weill in New York soon filed a lawsuit to end the season in the city. The partnership with Rosset would go on until 1998, when the director created Moliere’s O Avarento. In the 1980s, she tried other paths: she made Electra with Crete, directed by Gerald Thomas, in 1986, the same year in which she came into contact with Beckett’s universe, directed by Rubens Rusche. It was an epiphany for her. Beckett and her occlusive universe, in Katastrophé, made Maria Alice choose an even more radical theater, with no commitment to popular success.

Despite this, he did not refuse roles in television soap operas (he did Lucrécia in Sassaricando, in 1987, with Paulo Autran) and participated in several films (Chronically Inviable, in 2000, by Sérgio Bianchi, among others). Paradoxically, after a career like this, it was a short aired on YouTube that transformed her into a mass phenomenon, Tapa na Pantera, in which she plays a woman who has smoked marijuana for over 30 years and ends her testimony with an observation: “E I never got hooked “. This mood was very typical of Maria Alice. You can still hear his loud and adorable laugh echoing around the world.

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