It was no accident!

It was no accident!

Performance by Celso Cabral
Text by Celso Cabral e Cláudia Gomes
Translation by Danielle Cascaes

In 2018, during the Performance course of the Theater Education degree at Escola de Teatro e Dança da UFPA/ ETDUFPA (School of Theater and Dance/ UFPA), taught by Professor Karine Jansen, the performer Celso Cabral created a performance entitled “Não foi acidente!” [It was no accident!].

The performance arises to report and condemn the recurrent environmental crimes in our country, such as Mariana, a city in the state of Minas Gerais. This crime happened as a result of the dam burst by the Samarco Company in Mariana on November 5, 2015. The tailings of the dam ended up in the Doce River basin. And it was not only the river that suffered with this environmental crime, the city was buried in mud.

Unfortunately, this case is not the only one. In February 2018 there was a tailings leak by the mining company Hydro Alunorte, in the city of Barcarena – Pará – Brazil. The environmental crime left a reddish color in the Pará and Murucupi rivers, as well as in the region’s streams. According to journalist Barbosa (2018):

Thirteen riverside communities that depend on the natural resources of the Bom Futuro and Burajuba streams and the Murucupi and Tauá rivers, in the Pará river basin, in Barcarena, saw their backyards and artesian wells being taken over by a red mud on Friday (16). It was raining heavily in the region. But the certainty was different. It was what they had feared for many years: the leak of chemical tailings from the processing activities of the mining company Hydro Alunorte, of Norwegian capital, recognized as the largest bauxite refinery in the world. (BARBOSA, 2018)

And so, the performer used two environmental crimes as inducers: Mariana and Barcarena. And also Edu Krieger’s song called “Lama sem Alma” (Mud without Soul), in which the song talks about the environmental crime in the city of Mariana, especially the part “[…] Essa tragédia não tem nada de acidente / This tragedy has nothing of accident […].”

The performance was titled “Não foi acidente” to condemn the mining companies that put profit above life. Rule of the capitalist system.

This tragedy
Has nothing of accident
It was negligence of these people
Who thirst for power
But they try to please
Those who are guilty get away with it
Because with so much tail tied up[1]
How will they get arrested? (KRIEGER, 2015)

Edu Krieger’s song was an induction to find the performance’s name and also to find another fundamental element for the potency of the performance – the clay – which represented the soulless mud. 

For the representation of the rivers, the performer used a basin, where he poured the clay softened with water. According to Schechner (2003, p. 26) “To show oneself acting up is the performatic act: to point, underline, and demonstrate the action…”

The population of Barcarena has two rivers that are their source of survival and existence, because water is a fundamental source of subsistence: water to drink and water to live. Therefore, there is a behavior in relationship with the river. A daily behavior. As Schechner himself (2003, p. 25) says “In everyday life, to perform is to be displayed to the extreme, underlining an action for those who watch it”.  This action of reviewing a behavior, for the author, is the restoration of the action itself.

The restored behavior exists in the real world, as something separate and independent of me. Putting it in personal terms, restored behavior is – me behaving as if I were someone else, or me behaving as I have been told or me behaving as I have learned. (SCHECHNER, 2003, p. 33)

The actions were built and the performance took place in the courtyard of the School of Theater and Dance (ETDUFPA).

Performer Celso Cabral strung a rope between 2 pillars to hang clothes from a basin with water and clay – the mud. After taking off his shirt and shorts, he bathed in the mud, which symbolically represents the “muddy water” of environmental crimes. Then, the performer put two pieces of cardboard on the floor and started to spray “Fora Hydro” (Get Out Hydro/ Out Hydro), as he was not allowed to spray directly on the floor.

In 2021, Celso Cabral won the prize of the Juventude Ativa prize, organized by Movimento República de Emaús, through the Secretariat of Culture of the State of Pará (SECULT), with resources of the Aldir Blanc Law. The performance that was presented in 2018, was also revisited in 2021.

The images above were recorded at the Ver-O-Peso Market, in Belém – Pará. People would stop and watch at the performance, ask what it was about. People on the bus would get up to watch it.

So, the performance questions:

How can the people of Barcarena use muddy water to wash their clothes? And how would they drink this water? 

And so the performer washed his clothes in the muddy water, put them on a clothesline and then brought the same water to his mouth to drink it.

The performance communicates and screams to the society about environmental crimes committed in Brazil, and also transposes the artistic act to a complaint. It is the political artivism of the Amazonian performer.


[1] TN: In this context, “tail tied up” means compromising situation, or a person who owes someone something and is afraid of being reported.

“Não Foi Acidente” video performance credits

Performer: Celso Cabral
Voice: Socorro do Burajuba
Images: Eziel Duarte and Odin Gabriel
Editing: Celso Cabral and Odin Gabriel
Audiodescription: Neire Lopes and Nádia Lu
Acknowledgements: Karine Jansen and Cláudia Gomes
Production: Girassóis do Pará and Drama Rasgado

Project selected by the Juventude Ativa Prize – Lei Aldir Blanc Pará, 2020.


BARBOSA, Catarina. Vazamento de rejeitos da Hydro Alunorte causa danos socioambientais em Barcarena. Amazônia Real 2018. Disponível em: Acesso em: 12 fev 2022.

SCHECHNER, Richard. O que é performance. O percevejo – Revista de teatro, crítica e estética UNIRIO. Rio de Janeiro, v. 12, 2003, p. 25-50.

CHAIA, Miguel. Artivismo – Política e Arte Hoje. Revista Aurora PUCSP, São Paulo 2007, v. 1, p. 9-11

JANSEN, Karine; ROCHA, Raphael. Flores para Pietá: Re-Performando o sagrado/subversivo. Revista Sentidos da Cultura. 2020. v. 07 n° 12 Jan/Jun, p. 21-36


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