The nature, roots and relevance of the folk theatre of the north-east of Brazil
Folk plays have been performed in many different cultures all over the world, notwithstanding the level of material development and the distinctive features of the societies in which they are found. In the North-East of Brazil, they have probably been played since the beginning of the country's history in the sixteenth century. This thesis examines the origins, the most relevant characteristics and the contemporary meaning of four of these folk theatre forms which are still performed in the North-East of Brazil, namely, the Bumba-meu-Boi, the Cheganca, the Pastoril and the Mamulengo, stressing the aspects that they have in common with the English Mummers' Plays and other folk theatre forms from Europe and from the East. Folk theatre forms have generally been seen as remnants of ancient religious rituals. However, this relationship is only hypothetical and can no longer be proved. Thus, although recognising that they possibly originate from magico-religious sources in the distant past, and that they still keep some magic characteristics, here they are chiefly seen as an expression of the collective unconscious of mankind and of social and political relationships.