Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny

A Tarumba

by Bertolt Brecht


First, don’t forget,
comes the greedy eating;
second, we turn to love;
third, don’t forget the boxing matches;

fourth, swill your booze as long as you can.

Above all, though, observe closely,
that here you may do anything at all.

On 20th November 1998, A Tarumba premiered the “Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny”, by Bertolt Brecht in Teatro Taborda.

A free adaptation from B. Brecht’s libretto, “Mahagonny” is a living reliquary, a music box of the human condition under the motto “Here- You-May-Do-Anything”, which goes through time and knows that the same will go on and on eternally.

“Mahagonny”, the city where Brecht’s play take place, is a symbolic caricature of freedom; a legendary place where everybody could live as they please, an utopia of pleasure whose boundaries are established by the law of supply and demand.

For the first time was presented in Portugal an adaptation for puppets of a play by B. Brecht. The traditional scenography was replaced by digital images producing an excess of senses and a special amplitude innovative in the puppet theatre, recreating the environment of a lost city, an utopia of the years of gold searching and dreams through wooden puppets, articulated by strings, that interpret the psychological state of the characters created by Brecht.

The company also directed a workshop at Estabelecimento Prisonal das Mónicas (Monicas’s Prison Establishment) in cooperation with the Direcção Geral dos Serviços Prisionais (Prison Services General Direction), and three inmates participated in the show.


"A Tarumba – Teatro de Marionetas does another show for adults (...). But there is another centenary to celebrate in 1998, the one of Bertolt Brecht. And the Tarumba, resorting to the opera, just premiered, at Costa do Castelo, a new musical show inspired by Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, one of the most famous and monumental Brechtian operas. Thus A Tarumba recreates the city where happiness lives, settling it with crooks moved by greed of gold and heady women of easy virtue, as greedy as their lovers. The projected images and many special effects contribute to the glamour of this El Dorado (...). If not for the first time, then this is, at least, one of the rare occasions when the puppets adapt themselves to Brecht (...)."

-Manuel João Gomes (Público, 22nd November 1998)

"(...) The group has developed a work of love for its puppets (...). A Tarumba stages with puppets, a remarkable opera from Brecht/Kurt Weil. The small format of the show keeps all the irony and all the Brechtian soul intact."
-Manuel João Gomes (Público, 4th December 1998)

"The Puppet Theatre A Tarumba goes on with its task of presenting great playwrights’ texts to a vast audience. This time, celebrating the centenary of Brecht’s birth, premieres a dramatization of Brecht’s opera libretto Mahagonny (1930). This adaptation, held by Luís Vieira and Rute Ribeiro, is faithful to the objectives of the original text: alert to dangers and the dehumanization of a society whose major crime is not to have money (...). The set is made of a video projection directed by Gonçalo Luz and it is based on an assembly of images taken from books, films and documentaries, alternating with subtitles (...)."
- ERS (Expresso, November 1998)


Artistic direction, concept, scenography and puppets: Luís Vieira Translation and adaptation: Luís Vieira, Rute Ribeiro Puppeteers: Luís Vieira, Rute Ribeiro, Fernanda Cruz, Paulo Figueiredo, Catarina Fonseca Narrator: Victor Jesus Costumes and shoes: Rute Ribeiro Video: Gonçalo Luz Lighting design: Jorge Cramez Lighting and sound operation: Jorge Cramez / Mónica Garnel / Vera Alvelos Saxophone: Hugo Sousa Seamstress: Elvira Martins Scene assistance: Albertino Almada, Johnny Design: Ricardo Milne Photography: Alípio Padilha, Luís Vieira, Pedro Barros Technique: String puppets