Lent -4: Welcome to the Sambadrome!

Photo by Rosemary Ketchum on Pexels.com

Welcome to the Grand Parade Saturday of Carnival!

Last week, I scrolled past a Facebook post from the Stratford Festival saying that the first rehearsal for Chicago had happened earlier that day. I’m always pretty excited when I see the rehearsal and behind-the-scenes footage of Stratford festival shows. Other shows have already been in rehearsals and the crews of all the shows in this year’s playbill have been working for months. The players are part of a repertoire company, so they play several parts in several shows throughout the run of the festival. There are massive shows that play for 6 months or more, and smaller shows that run for only a handful of weeks at the studio theatre. But the whole company gets to ride the successes, big and small, for most of a year.

I did theatre as a kid and into highschool – I love the memory of the set design and learning to use the fancypants lighting board, and the stress of not knowing if I knew all my lines on the day before Tech rehearsals started (But really really hoping I did) and choosing an audition piece to perform for a director and having people audition for me and show shirts … it’s a tornado of activity that always seems half a breath away from the high speed wobble. But for the barely-controlled chaos of the backstage, it always *looks like* it is effortless by the time it hits the stage. Trust me, it ain’t effortless.

So what does that mean for the Lent Project?

In Rio de Janeiro, on the Saturday night of Carnival, there’s a massive parade and Samba contest. Each of the best samba schools in Rio gets 75 minutes, judges mark them on lyrics, drumming cadence, precision, costumes, harmony, and the allegorical theme of the float. This is so integral to Carnival that they have an specially-built arena called… wait for it… the Sambadrome. Try to not say it like Tina Turner. WELCOME TO THE SAMBADROME!

Do you hear it? Just me? Hm…


The parade through the Sambadrome and the accompanying contest happen because people work at it. Lots of people for lots of time. And the result is spectacular.

This Carnival, may the value of planning now translate into great results later. At the same time, may the process be joyful, if not spangly.

Last year:

Lent -4: Carnival

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