Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts



First Advisor

Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates


Actor training, like the theatre in Brazil, has historically been a middle and upper class pursuit that followed European models, namely Stanislavski's system. Yet within Brazil there is a wealth of diverse cultures that are inherently theatrical and well suited for application in actor training. In this study I explore one such culture, the Afro Brazilian religion Umbanda. First, I examine its formation to illuminate how the religion itself performed (or served as a site for cultural interaction) throughout history. Then, I explore the practice of the religion both apart from and in relation to the theatre and Stanislavski's system. Using the archetypes of Umbanda as a base, I formulate a system of actor training that both allows access to a larger demographic of Brazilians, and also encourages cultural dialogue as an explicit part of acting process. I frame this study with two metaphors: anthropophagy, the notion of cannibalizing or consuming one culture by another; and, more specifically, the digestive tract. The anthropophagy movement in Brazil framed the country's thought throughout much of the 20th century; the digestive tract is a closer examination of the consuming process that epitomizes this system of actor training.


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Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

June 2008