Morro do Providencia is Rio's first favella, founded by former slaves,and those who were freed by the "Birth Act".
At the bottom of this favella in Rio de Janeiro sits the Methodist Institute, founded 100 years ago to serve the people of this favella. "Um Caminho Sobre O Muro" is a play created to celebrate the century of efforts by the people of the Institute as well as the spirit of the people who work, live and survive in Morro do Providencia, Rio's most notorious favella.
Based on the stories of the people of the Institute and residents of Morro do Providencia, this play was performed in two parts. Act I was a progressive theater piece, which started next to the Institue, in the only Methodist English Cemetery in Rio, and wove its way through the cemetery, and over a wall into the institute-- a popular route taken by residents. Act II was performed in the old cannonball factory, which now serves as a community building.
The production was directed by Richard Owen Geer (with the help of many translators, who mostly repeated his directions to the Portuguese speaking cast. There were often humorous re-interpretations of his directions).
Richard and Jules travelled to Rio multiple times over three years to create this production. They lived there for the time leading up to the production, along with local composer and assistant director Ronaldo Florintino. Ronaldo also played music, and translated the play into Portuguese. They, along with the leadership of longtime Institute Director Marion Way and his wife, Anita, and with the full participation of the people of Providencia, created this community strengthening project.
It is important to note the culture of violence that permeated this community. Nightly machine gun fire, grenades, and even occasional seiges by the federalies, who are in a constant battle with the drug cartel that operates inside of the favella, often made rehearsals difficult. And sleep. When the stage was built inside the cannonball factory, volunteers slept in the newly formed theater in order to prevent stealing. We lost our first set of seats the first night they were put in. All of them stolen in the night. All lighting equipment had to be struck each night and placed behind lock and key and a volunteer guard. The heart of the community really shone through as they came to perform in and protect this project. Their stories were being told. This mattered to them.