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Anexos / Arquivos

The whimsical lesson of spirits & the strange madness of Lorena Martinez: A humanist poetics [1]

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MATOS, Bruno Sérvulo da Silva [2], MARTINS, Benedita Afonso [3]

MATOS, Bruno Sérvulo da Silva. MARTINS, Benedita Afonso. The whimsical lesson of spirits & the strange madness of Lorena Martinez: A humanist poetics. Revista Científica Multidisciplinar Núcleo do Conhecimento. Year 05, Ed. 12, Vol. 08, pp. 93-110. December 2020. ISSN: 2448-0959, Access link:


Nazareno Tourinho, in his career as a writer, essayist, critic and playwright, developed his works with awareness about his social role. A man of theater and spiritist, the playwright, among numerous publications, wrote plays and essays with emphasis on spiritism, whose principle is (in the words of Nazareno Tourinho himself), to transmit the essence of spiritist doctrine. Under this principle, two pieces stand out: The capricious lesson of spirits – A caprichosa lição dos espíritos (1997) and The Strange Madness of Lorena Martinez – A Estranha Loucura de Lorena Martinez (1997), in addition to a theoretical book – Spiritist Theater (1990). In this text, we will dialogue with the above-mentioned pieces for the specific study of theatrical dramaturgy, based on the theoretical book of this same author and others who have dedicated themselves or are still dedicated to the theme. In this article, we will present relevant concepts about dramaturgy and a brief reading of these published plays, whose themes are adapted to the precepts of an artistic-spiritist-humanist poetics. The reading will be done more in artistic-humanistic understanding than in the doctrine practiced by the author.

Keywords: Dramaturgy, Nazareno Tourinho, humanitarian art.



Before starting the analysis of the two focused pieces, we will present a little about the author’s work, initially with the words of the critic Acyr Castro, in one of the written criticisms about the work of Nazareno Tourinho, which he called “creative implosion”, a definition that fits fully in tourinho’s work. He writes on numerous topics, all focused on the clear issues of the human being. “Creative implosion. In the theatre of Nazareno Tourinho, the battlefield is his mythological alter ego. Looking closely, it is a kaleidoscope of themes and related ideas to propose an ideal transposition of the fact.”[4] (CASTRO, 1982).

In this context, we agree, therefore, with Acyr Castro, who referred to the author’s mythological alter ego, because he reaffirms Nazareno’s modes of expression, although we add other aspects besides mythological. He was always absolutely consistent with the values he valued, practiced in life and recorded them in his work, both focused on spiritist[5] doctrine and writings for the theater[6]. Padua Costa reiterates some of the author’s qualities, to which we insert in the traits of his personality, a humanist convinced of his conceptions of life.

I consider it appropriate to emphasize an important and persistent trait of the personality of Nazareno Tourinho, who makes an unalterable presence in everything he accomplishes and which is reflected in his literary work: the inflexible honesty that characterizes the way he expresses his way of feeling. He does not fear debates, even when necessary, he becomes aggressive, in defense of his truth, always focused on the greaterness of the common good. Hence, we perceive this “entire fidelity to the changes of the urban and rural universe”, especially in the literature that Nazareno Tourinho provides us, as a playwright of undeniable merits[7].

Here we mention part of the presentation of the complete work: Plays by Nazareno Tourinho, already referenced in a footnote, so that the reader knows a little more about his production, seeks other pieces to read and, why not, stage. His textual plots contain elements of popular culture, Amazonian vocabulary, social and psychological problems, among other topics.

From historical events or totally fictional, Nazareno Tourinho expresses through scenic writing the traces of the peoples who inhabit Brazil. These characterizations of writing are worked under the theme addressed, the clear and well-articulated language, and the importance it conveys to the collective memory, ensuring through these care and others with the texts, the communicability of the author with the public. It is worth noting that his pieces are appreciated both by reading and by staging.

His texts, further in the scene, befits individual or dramatized reading, they have fluidity, lightness, sense of humor, irony and, above all, as good dramaturgy requires, they are composed of conflicts, peripécia, agility, verisiness, well-structured dialogues, surprises and unexpected resolutions to the impasses, not always presenting an ending considered happy as, for example, the play Knot of 4 Legs – Nó de 4 Pernas, in which in the end couples are left with children exchanged. Thus, such characteristics are the precise requirements for an empathic relationship between the author and the reader/spectator. Nazareno is a master in this art of writing for the scene. And, fluently, his texts suggest or require proper interpretation to the principles that the pieces contain, this is one of the recommendations of the author who wishes to take them to the stages.

These attributes are common in each piece of the author, in which the themes deal from the exploration of rubber tappers, to the golden age of latex extraction; the revolt of the caboclos against the established power; slavery; the love strike between the riverside couples; religiosity; ethics; censorship; and also repression. It is evident the proof of the author’s personal references, about the coherence he draws between his ideas and his way of interpreting the world, about his principles and philosophy, as well as his way of living and his beliefs. These aspects are transcribed in his work, where written production, from a geographical perspective, extrapolates spaces, speaking of peoples to amazonian peoples, or not.  This is another reason to reflect on the reception, redating and circulation of their plays around the world, being staged by amateur and professional theater groups since the publication of the first text in 1961.

Because he loved the people, felt the people, lived the people, and learned their taste, language, longings, and passions, pains, and despairs (…). It was the people who marked it definitively for the literary vocation and it was the people who determined and conditioned their predestination for the scenic text. No other genre could seduce him more than the theater, precisely because of his dialogal and experiential character and through it you. it can recreate the characters he met in real life, and why the theater of you, before being a dialogue with the public, is an intimate dialogue, yours with your life, yours with your world, yours with your conscience (CAMPOS, 1969, p. 124).

Returning to the quotation of Ápio Campos, we highlight, once again, the coherence of the author, in addition to his religious conviction, but according to his personality, his way of living and of getting involved with the socio-political-cultural context of his time and his people. So that, aware of the slippery role of conceptualizing art or a specific type of art, here, specifically the theatrical writing of Tourinho, we present this reading in construction of the two pieces. The difficulty of assertive conceptualizations in this field is due to how vivacious the arts are, their transformations and their paths traveled in the search for the understanding of such a wide area, in a world that can be changed. With regard to theater, in particular, it is no different, on the contrary, since its first manifestation, it is possible to say that the classifications or conceptualizations were written in their “most fragile line”. For, as John Dewey art “is recreated every time it is experienced aesthetically.” (BRANDI, 2005, p.14).

Since there are the blessed “classifications” on all the arts, dramaturgy also carries them and goes from classical to postmodern, that is, there is a variety of alternatives to work with writing for theater, as many as the proposals of those who work them. In this text, we will deal with the two plays by the playwright Nazareno Tourinho, which we qualify as a humanist theme.

Although the pieces: The capricious lesson of spirits and The strange madness of Lorena Martinez are called by the author as spiritists, we will point out that they go beyond the doctrine, or by following christian principles, are humanists, naturally, we respect the conceptions of the author, because they are themes dear to the spiritist community, to which he belonged and researched all his life.


In the book on Spiritist Dramaturgy, Tourinho warns that “This is a spiritist book, written by a spiritist for other spiritists” (TOURINHO, 1990, p. 11) and demonstrates the impossibility of reaching a definitive conceptualization and framed in a closed epistemology. The playwright makes the caveat that, in this book he establishes a definition attentive to the elastic and multifaceted characteristic of the arts and also warns that his interest is not merely cultural, but predominantly educational, we add enlightening, not doctrinal. “This definition becomes absolutely necessary from the outset because we will deal with ART, something infinitely elastic and multifaceted, whose approach can be made from a wide range of perspectives when it comes to cultural purposes only and not predominantly educational.” (TOURINHO, 1990, p. 11). In the case of Nazareno, he makes the caveat that he has, above all, a commitment to educating him.

In the line that we point out above about the author’s written production, in line with his convictions, art linked to spiritist content stands out for presenting very particular themes and for emphasizing explanatory precepts about what it would be like to be spiritist, better saying, enlightening, or even better, more attentive to the phenomenon of experiences, with regard to extra physical plots , so to speak. For spiritists, specifically spiritist artists, their role is to transmit knowledge more reflective, humanized, in addition to the emphasis only on indoctrination. Art comes to be one of the most effective ways, via or means of this transmission, precisely by expressing a certain “universalism”, in the sense that, especially in the work of Nazareno Tourinho[8], one of the focuses is to theme and reflect on human ills, regardless of religious nature.

That is, there is no need to be a self-confessed spiritist to work with these texts, but it is necessary to respect the text. One of Nazareno’s demands has always been that they not misrepresent the essential meanings of his writings. At this point he was categorical: “do you want to work with my texts? I early, but keep the text messages, can work creatively, as long as they do not mischaracterize them” [9]. Thus, we will try to write about the themes of the plays: The Capricious Lesson of Spirits and The Strange Madness of Lorena Martinez, we will treat them as lay, respectful and aware of the scope of spiritist doctrine, around the world, as Gláucio Cardoso states.

The advance of the Spiritist Doctrine is undeniable not only in Brazilian lands but also in several countries around the world.  Every year Spiritism is more and more sought after by those who seek comfort or knowledge.  It is necessary, therefore, that spiritists take care of doctrinal dissemination to bring, correctly and effectively, the Good News to a larger number of people. In the spiritist dissemination work with the non-Spiritist public, art deserves special attention for being the means by which the intellect of each individual is best penetrated, since art does not know barriers of color, sex, religion or nationality (CARDOSO, 2019, p. 9).

Thus, respectful and reverent, students in search of enlightenment for the good understanding of the plots, we continue with our reading and writing. But what or how would spiritist art be classified? First, it is important to clarify that spiritist art is not necessarily art with spiritist theme: possession, mediumship, communication with the dead; psychographed writing, among others. In literature, in general, such themes are present in many authors, in several ways. It is not uncommon, for example, to come across a novel, in which a particular episode presents recurring elements of spiritism, however, without this being the main focus of its narrative.

For scholars of spiritist[10] doctrine, art can be considered spiritist, at the moment when the principles of this philosophy are inserted into its main narrative core, whether for doctrinal and educational purposes or not, that is, texts written in the light of spiritist principles, extrapolate the mere indoctrination. They themtify human issues, which of course includes everyone interested in reading and assembling, so what matters is that messages are not misrepresented. At this point Nazareno clarifies:

Let us fix this observation well, extremely important: for a piece to be spiritist it becomes essential the correct message of Spiritism in the essentiality of its content. We insist a little more on the justification of such an observation. If, in a certain scenic text, the realities of Spiritism, phenomenal or doctrinal, arise randomly or move fleetingly, without constituting the center of the theme, depending on the examples we have just mentioned, we cannot consider them to be really spiritist because in them our message is diluted, eclipsed by others that are overtaken by others that are overtaken by it (TOURINHO, 1990, p. 23).

Perhaps, this is the biggest difference and the challenge faced by the artist who disposes to work with pieces written in this study by Nazareno Tourinho. You have to be “moralizing” and not moralistic. It is worth mentioning that one of the concepts dear to spiritism is that of free will. That is, the teachings are not imposing, they aim to clarify and demonstrate that every action results in reaction. The person is a lady of you to decide which steps to follow.

Still in the field of examples, many authors ventured to present related themes, or that can be elucidated by doctrine, but not committed to doctrine. One scene there, another there; a narrative context based on extra physical event, without a deep study of the cause of this component placed in the plot; or without the enlightened presentation of the philosophy contained in the Spiritist teachings.

We will not state that these authors wrote under the influence or for the purpose of presenting extra physical phenomena, which, of course, is insated from the examples cited below. The plots brought to the fore behavioral complexity to be understood by several interpretative currents, above all, psychoanalytic. We, because we are dealing with pieces of a Spiritist author, to this current we try to associate our reading. Others are possible and welcome.

Some examples of writings considered in this line of strange phenomena, so to speak: several short stories by Clarice Lispector[11], by Lygia Fagundes Telles[12] expose characteristics that can be associated with the world of spiritism, stories set in a higher, transcendental plane or for the studies of literary theory, one of the alternatives of understanding, would be to attribute these writings under the characteristics of the genre or fantastic mode. Many of these works are covered by the epithet of supernatural, fantastic or horror stories. That is, if there are complex situations or behaviors, not explainable by deterministic logic, the most common practice is to consider them, at least strange or frightening.

Cinema found in this thematic niche and explores, in an exemplary way, a fertile field of productions such as: The others [13]; The exorcist [14]; Paranormal Activity [15]; Invocation of evil [16]; The Shining [17]; Beyond eternity [18]; Ghost: On the other side of life [19]; City of Angels [20]; A look from paradise [21]; Love beyond life [22]; My life in the hereafter [23]; Our home [24]; among other endless examples. These films dialogue with psychology, religion, fiction and, depending on the cultural repertoire and the interest of those who watch them, elicit different readings. However, there are few contributions in this range of options that suggest a teaching or knowledge of the causes, apparently inexplicable. Such studies, which are increasingly necessary, will contribute to a better understanding of human vicissitudes.

Another example – returning more to the literature of novels and plays – very conducive to discussion is the children’s play Pluft, the fantasminha – Pluft, o fantasminha (1955) of Maria Clara Machado, which, despite presenting elements dear to spiritism, is not the main motto of the work, that is, such elements are as thematic supporting actors of the plot, used more to give a fantastic and fanciful effect. In William Shakespeare’s Macbeth (1603-1607), several ghosts dialogue with the protagonist, but the play itself is not a spiritist dramaturgy. In this search for a conceptualization or classification for spiritist theater, an explanation for the “correct” way of theatrical doing, under the keynote of the principles of spiritism, is in the message that is transmitted to the viewer.

First, the correct message of spiritism implies not only the scientifically proven information that the so-called dead continue to exist and can interfere in the physical world, but also the revelation that such a thing occurs because of the natural laws perfectly logical and necessary for our evolution. In order to pass on the correct message of spiritism in a play, therefore, it is not enough to expose or suggest, the manifestation of spirits – it is necessary to do this in line with the philosophy codified by Alla Kardec, which explains, and justifies the mediumistic exchange, which connects the different states of the soul in the Beyond to its individual merits, which teaches reincarnation, free will, moral laws etc. (TOURINHO , 1990, p. 21-22).

That is, to write in these terms a play, a short story or a novel, the author must necessarily know about the doctrine, not to trivialize its principles and this is not acceptable. The commitment to spiritist teachings requires a lot of study and research. The researcher Glaucio Cardoso (2019) was didactic when he synthesized the difference between Spiritist Art and Art with spiritist theme:

Spiritist art – Committed to the correct dissemination of the postulates of Spiritism demonstrated in its manifestations. It is by definition an ideological art, which carries the risk of presenting a strongly pamphleteering character, emphasizing the message to the detriment of aesthetics.

Art with spiritist theme – Artistic manifestation that uses ideas and phenomena based on Spiritism, without having, however, commitment to the Doctrine and its dissemination. There are examples of this type of art throughout our culture, and tales by Machado de Assis and Edgar Allan Poe can be cited, as well as several Hollywood films (CARDOSO, 2019, p. 11).

Glaucio Cardoso helps us to understand the pieces studied here, they are not panflarians, in addition to the messages, they point to several aesthetic proposals of realization. In the literature of plays, some productions stand out with this theme. Historically, the first play, with a certain purpose to the Cause[25], would have been staged in Paris in 1867, called Jules Barbier’s Maxwell, but little is known about it and the information is inaccurate. However, in 1897, the first genuinely spiritist theatrical work: Spiritisme, by Victorien Sardou, appeared.

In Brazil, the first piece with this theme would be The volunteers of Manuel Araújo’s Homeland Porto Alegre, but defining and dating accurately is something uncertain, however, the author Humberto Brissolo is recognized as the probable pioneer, with the 1912 play, The resurfacement of a soul.[26] It is notorious that art has space and is highly appreciated in spiritist and non-spiritist communities. It is an expanding artistic space. In Brazil, for example, there are spiritist theater festivals, with Nazareno Tourinho as one of the winning playwrights, as well as other studies and research that are dedicated to the theme. Magazines such as caderno de Arte Abrarte/Associação de artistas espíritas are dedicated exclusively to the arts that venture into this field, giving the theme a more scientific character and a means of disseminating spiritist knowledge, which are increasingly adept.


After a long introduction, we entered the theatrical work of Nazareno Tourinho.  There are 14 pieces with eclectic and varied themes regarding typology. His pieces can be: dramatic, comical, anecdotal, social and, of course, two of them with spiritist content[27]. The playwright was concerned, in addition to these classifications or nomenclatures, to portray the ills of peoples in a critical and reflective way. Nazareno, as a scholar and practitioner of spiritist doctrine, wrote pieces with spiritist content, because, as we know, he belonged to the spiritist[28] community and is a reference in studies of this nature, with numerous published works.

As a citizen and writer concerned with his social role, he wrote plays that are, in his understanding, moralizing and not moralistic. The difference between these two words is summed up, “roughly speaking”, to the “tone” expressed by the precepts we believe to be of good and bad customs, to civility in society, or even to beliefs based on prosaic Christianity. The idea that the moralist imposes with force and rigidity what he believes to be correct, is precisely the opposite of what is expected of the researchers-participants-spiritist artists: the non-imposition by the moralizing acceptance that art can imprint on those who appreciate it. The Spiritist is moved by the practice of guiding actions by an ethics based on fraternal love.

In the play, The Strange Madness of Lorena Martinez, the main character, Lorena, in a psychic state, professes a series of guidelines and warnings:

LORENA – My brothers, I did not come here for controversy, I came to help Lorena because of her personal merits. I do not wish to establish conflicts with anyone’s opinion; if for now you do not place faith in our world, of a spiritual nature, it is up to us to mourn without worrying, since sooner or later you all die and see the great truth of the afterlife with your own eyes. Only, in case they do not judge incarceous, I have, with due respect to the free will of each one, to leave some warnings. Accept? (TOURINHO, 1997, p. 95).

It is clear that the author preserves the idea of not moralizing, but of being enlightening of the principles and phenomena of the spiritual world. The spirit that takes care of Lorena, states that he respects free will, which is not there to provoke conflicts and asks permission to present the warnings to those present. These warnings are then known to concern the lives of all the people gathered in the house. Situations or contexts are transmitted that can help, in the best way, the lives of the characters, who have the right to accept, deny or reflect on, that is, the mission of the spirit is to clarify. Tourinho argues that ART only worships the goddess LIBERTY, voting solemn contempt for all kinds of morals.  To this impasse[29], Tourinho himself explains:

The answer to this question (how to solve this impasse?), in which the solution of the problem will go into line, will lie in our ability to realize that the root of the question is not so much what to do, but how to do. If we give our work the irresistible force of beauty and originality, formal attributes supplant all philosophical contents (TOURINHO, 1990, p. 16).

 Here, as connoisseurs of the work of Andrei Tarkovski, it is up to us to draw some parallels in the conceptions of two humanists about the arts. Both Tarkovski and Nazareno consider art to be high. Those who dedicate themselves to the arts would be in a state of grace, praise and even sacrifice and, above all, in the exercise of empathy and commitment to the understanding of the other. Tarkovski states that the work of art must be necessary to the human being. “In fact, I could never convince myself that an artist, knowing that his work was not necessary for anyone, could work only for himself.” (TARKOVSKI, 2010 p. 5). To which Nazareno would fully agree, he wrote with the purpose of provoking reflection on the ills experienced by his characters. Tourinho was an attentive observer of the behaviors of the Amazonian peoples, with a view to understanding their attitudes, without reproaching them. For Tarkovski, those who produce an artistic work must excel in understanding the human being, practicing observation to understand them.

It is a great virtue to know how to hear and understand… This, after all, is one of the basic foundations of human relationships: the ability to understand people, to forgive them for involuntary faults, their natural defects. If, at least once, two people have been able to experience the same thing, they can always understand each other. Even though one of them lived in the mammoth age, and the other in the age of electricity. And God will have only given to understanding and experiencing human and common impulses – their own and those of others (TARKOVSKI, 2010, p.5-6).

The conceptions of the two authors are humanist, above all, for both, an artistic work only makes sense if it contributes to the elevation of the human being. In general, the two pieces with spiritist content and message present this formator aspect, in order to demonstrate values, attitudes and high and humanistic behaviors, whose dialogues between the characters, can be read and understood, by any person without distinction of class, gender and beliefs. This is perhaps the ideal purpose that Tourinho advocates: to reach hearts – Christians, non-Christians; spiritists and non-spiritists – it is necessary to be popular, without losing its elucidative and educational burden, in the sense of following spiritist principles, not as dogmas, but as an understanding of a more humanitarian life.

Nazareno’s pieces have a certain degree of scholarship, but maintain clarity for reading, understanding and assembly, either by the presence of well-designed characters or by well-constructed dialogues. In the two pieces in question, there are learned characters who contrast with characters of humble academic or intellectual background; however, it is precisely these characters apparently uneducated in the light of science who, in a simple way and using crendices considered popular and knowledge departing from the lived wisdom, which have a resolutive highlight of the problems. It is these creatures that expose their wisdom and elucidate about the strange phenomena that occurred in families. As can be seen in The Capricious Lesson of Spirits (1997) at a time when Dr. Urbinati demonstrates his knowledge of science:

Dr. Urbinati – Pablo, don’t give me that! Leave Einstein at his glorious home in the company of Max Plank. Because space is curved, because the Universe has cylindrical and non-spherical form, and is finite though unlimited, because size measurements vary with speed, because a moving body decreases in volume and increases mass, we are forced to believe that the principle of electrostatic repulsion between electrons in distance interaction is absolutely established for all eternity? What if such a principle does not work under certain conditions or circumstances? If it is not always valid, in a few, if it does not apply to the clotted heat that since Monday has been making me feel patient? (TOURINHO, 1997, p. 34).

Tourinho, in both pieces, not only seeks the contrast between the scholar and the empirical, on the contrary. It actually elevates knowledge (scientific and popular) when confronting or putting them into dialogue. For this purpose, as in the above excerpt, his characters mark discourses with cause property, explaining effects and results, when the character Dr. Ubiratan, for example, professes discourses with scientific proof.

On the other hand, contrasting the more scientific discourse, in The strange madness of Lorena Martinez (1997), the character Terto, a 75-year-old employee, tries to explain the situation lorena is going through:

Terto – “Your” Bertolo, give me permission for an old man’s advice, in this tribulation of Dona Lorena. I’m sorry, and I can’t keep my mouth nailed anymore.

Bertolo – Get out soon!

Paola – Let him talk, Dad, it doesn’t hurt to hear.

Terto – (Pointing Jéssica) I’m tired of begging her to tell you and the boys that Ms. Lorena lacks… (Take a cautious break).

Paola – What? Say, don’t be afraid.

Terto – Take a few passes.

Jéssica – That’s all that was missing!

Terto – (For her) You disemat it because you’re a church carola.

Jéssica – (Exalted) Old macumbeiro, respect me

(TOURINHO, 1997, p. 62-63).

In order to keep unexplained issues in the light of science as an exercise of knowledge, of personal growth. Experiences represented by the characters, but which can provoke a reflection in the reader/spectator. It challenges the reader with criticism, referring in a jumble to church carolas, besides demonstrating that prejudice is still imperative, especially in class societies, about rituals of other cultures such as candomblé or spiritism, for example. Here, in this case, Bertolo refuses to accept the existence of a supernatural entity that takes over Lorena Martinez, so much so that he seeks in medicine an explanation for the causes and their effects that spiritism could explain or solve.

The differences are quite accentuated between the characters, both for their social characteristics, as well as their temperaments or psychological profiles. Starting with names: The highest and most educated caste has names and surnames, qualities that characterize a certain prestige; the others are presented and formally called by nicknames or by the first name, a clear class distinction. Dr. Nicholas is a prestigious physicist and what can be called a learned and learned man; Pablo is his most dedicated student and he expresses great appreciation for his master, he is always open-minded to new interpretations and knowledge; Camilo is an artist with a high degree of intellectuality and is vain, using all his words in pompous and hermetic speeches, it is also known that he is what is commonly classified as a “free spirit” artist, having even left the magistracy to fully exercise your art. On the other side of this pole are the characters: the fragile Ilma, a young employee, who seems to be responsible for the supernatural manifestations that plague the residence – she is naive, without imperative force and submissive to the orders imposed on her; Francesca is the governor and has little knowledge of the facts, completely clinging to her beliefs and accepting events as divine trials; And to complete, Father Giordano who, in his Christian belief and his Manichaean philosophy, has constant clashes with Camilo (adverse to the ideas of good x evil, devil x God, insistently perpetrated by the priest). In the last field, are the two wives, Magali and Carmencita. These are neutral personas, as they are not intellectual (as they themselves make clear), while they are not thinned and have a refined culture, so to speak. The speeches of the characters show an appreciation for academic training, for doctoral degrees, however, it is also clear, Nazarene’s predilection for the least favored of all sorts.

Characterisation is a task that requires articulation and care. The characters in a play need to be interconnected not only by the guiding thread of the narrative, but incorporated into the context as an element that exists from their actions, their gestures, their profiles. When it comes to a play, which has as a character, an actor on stage, it is important that its characterization is consistent with the genre or proposal of the play. The characters are characterized by what they say, by what others say of him and by their own actions put into words, gestures, costumes. It is a construction of human nature, in the words of Tourinho: “The characterization of the characters requires the playwright to be very acuity because human nature is not simple at all, it is superlatively complex” (TOURINHO apud CARDOSO, 2019, p. 52). In this case, the playwright has special attention, because in the two plays specified here, his characters are expressively consistent with the proposal of the genre in which he wrote.

The headings, at this point, play a fundamental role in the construction of the dramatúrgic text. Tourinho does not save on these indications. For he wants his pieces to be understood from his vision, from his understanding of the subject, while not imposing his convictions. Although I make it clear that when assembled, your pieces must be respected for messages, content, indications.

Ms. Magali – (Put aside the crochet paraphernalia and get up) Then passes the cloth on the figurine (Go to the electrola, put to play a song performed on violin; then sit pensively and rubs her hands in a gesture that denotes contained nervousness, before picking up the yarn roll and needle to continue in crochet; in the meantime CARMENCITA CALDERON emerges in the hallway).

CARMENCITA – (spontaneous, elegant without affectation) Do they remain in the cabinet? (TOURINHO, 1997, p. 14).

Let us note that the author’s rubrics are not only about the movements and actions of the characters, they indicate their feelings as well. Even the music, played on the electrola, denotes a reading, because a violin solo can have a dramatic tension effect that invades space and is absorbed by the characters and their spectators. In the rubric, Carmencita’s name is highlighted with form letters, accompanied by the surname, to give, in this case, the social importance to the character, as an elegant woman in the way of dressing, in gestures and attitudes. All these indications are initialed, without which they could misrepresent the idealized expressiveness.

In addition to these social actors, dichotomies are aggravated in the constant struggle between science and belief. And, because it is a spiritist piece, of course, the scale weighs on the values not necessarily scientifically proven. However, Tourinho’s pieces do not disdeserve one in favor of the other. On the contrary, in many passages, he values science as fundamental; demonstrates great knowledge of scientific phenomena, mainly in the arguments of Dr. Nicholas; and recognizes that the world and people need the sciences, just as they need other beliefs anymore, which are not on the ground plane. Demonstrating that its theatrical performance is not restricted to valuing only from one point of view, even if the primary proposal of the play is to represent the paranormal effects. There is, in this case, an attempt to express that we are matter and spirit and that both need, within their evolutionary needs, science and spiritual treatment.

The conflict and the shenams of the proposed situations are an important part in written dramaturgy. Such characteristics are motes that grab the reader/viewer’s attention to a good story. Tourinho is a master in this feat, because he can dialogue with expensive issues. It’s the dichotomies, the important elements of his plays. In addition to a reading of the personas, is the reading of the differences. The conflicts between science x religiosity, body x spirit, wealth x poverty, discourses x silence, are the maxims that make his work easily reach the public, because “it is the plot that paves the way for action through conflict and it is he who fosters the characterization of the characters […]”. (TOURINHO, 1991: 78-9).

Lorena Martinez’s strange madness could be classified as a dramatic play, and The Capricious Lesson of Spirits had been defined as comedy. However, especially in the second, this classification goes down. In the difficult and complex search for definition of the type of dramaturgy or its classification, the play presents more moments of tension than of laughter, or sarcasms, ironies, etc. words that, in general, would fit the comic work. On the contrary, the presence of supernatural elements, scientific discussions, classicist conflicts and sonoplastwork itself, visual and interpretive effects imprint a more dramatic atmosphere. In fact, the eclecticism of Tourinho’s pieces scratches some of the widely disseminated concepts and, also defended in academia, for example, in certain religious segments. It is more important to think that it is a piece, in addition to the classifications of genres, that is at the limits of one classification or another.

The characterization of genres, sometimes taking normative or just descriptive features, presenting itself as inflexible rules or just as a set of traits, which the work can present in its entirety or predominantly, has been different ing at each time. In defense of a universality of literature, many theorists even consider gender as an immutable category and to value the work for its obedience to fixed laws of structuring, for its “purity”. While others, in the name of the creative freedom that the artistic work should result, defend the mixture of genres, trying to show that each work presents different combinations of characteristics of the different genres (SOARES, 2007, p.7).

However, it should be clarified that such classification is not due only to the presence of laughter. We would be subduing very important studies that explain that the aesthetics of comedy or comedy, is not made only by that, that or the work that makes you laugh. Aristotle, when he wrote Poetics, referred to the means of imitation, stated that comedy resembles tragedy, since both use the rhythm, the singing and the subway, each of which its turn: “They also resemble both with regard to the mode of imitation, because both are characterized as drama, since they imitate people who act and work differently” (ARISTÓTELES, 1984, p. 243).

The differentiations at this point would be in the object of imitation, because for Aristotle, if tragedy imitates better men, comedy is limited to imitating worse men than us. Configuring itself as “[…] imitation of inferior men; not, however, for all kinds of vices, but only for that part of the torpe that is ridiculous” (ARISTÓTELES, 1984, p. 243). Outside of this friction, as to what is superior or inferior, we can only think that, since its origin, comedy has similarities with tragedy and, perhaps, this is the greatest explanation as to the difficult task of classifying a dramatúrgic genre. After all, it is necessary to “know the motivations of tear and laughter, of what we believe as serious and as funny” (TOURINHO, 1991, p. 77). Perhaps, the spiritist works of Tourinho, try yes, to speak of men considered “inferior”, unbelieving and unbelieving, narcissistic, conceited, avaros, petty … but, who are in this condition because they are human and who can, with remission, achieve enlightenment for a more dignified life, at least in the “eyes” of spiritism.

Still in the difficult role of conceptualizing, the work of Nazareno Tourinho, specifically these two plays, are part of the category of theater of ideas that, in turn, branch into problem plays, thesis plays, and advertisement, from a classification presented by Walter Kerr[30], American playwright. The problem piece simply presents its problem, seeks to be fair to both parts and drops the cloth without any solution; The thesis piece, in turn, presents a political, social or moral problem that falls on a debate to solve a problem; The propaganda piece presents a problem, discusses the author’s solution and there seeks to incite the public to an immediate action. While the thesis playwright is content to have the intellectual acquiescence for his ideas; the propagandist is only satisfied with passionate engagements and practical cooperation.

It is fair, in this case, to allocate The Play of Tourinho as a thesis piece, considering that the playwright finds in the non-pamphleteering discourse – typically framed in the pieces of propaganda – the exercise of conflicting discourse between opposites that fall in a reflection, without explicitly raising an advertisement, for example, about spiritism. In fact, Tourinho has always made it clear that his pieces are to be seen by any spectators, regardless of their philosophical or religious convictions.


With regard to the spiritist theater of Nazareno Tourinho, little has been investigated and much is to be studied. This work did not claim to exhaust all the doubts and analyses that the theme requires. On the contrary, he launches, with humility, another idea and another look at the scenic art of this playwright from Pará who understood the Doctrine as something that would need to be transmitted, also, by Art. For the playwright, art is the best representation to reach men, and one of the ways to transmit spiritist philosophy.

With regard to the two pieces studied, both, it has its experimental value, its objective force; its characters are well constructed and present the conflicts necessary for the scenic narrative. In addition to carrying speeches dear to doctrine.

On his journey, Nazareno Tourinho wrote numerous works dedicated to spiritism, including a theoretical-critical essay. The work is important because it presents issues that, without clear elucidations can confuse the new playwrights and spiritist artists. With wisdom and awareness, he writes without denying his condition as writer and spiritist. At the same time it does not cease to recognize its limitations as both, that is, as a human being.

The truth is that the work of Nazareno Tourinho stands out for being popular, for having an acceptance of the public, even when it comes to a piece of philophal or doctrinal nature. This shows that the playwright does not surrender to his beliefs, or uses them as a crutch, but finds, in this proposal, a way to show the world what he knows and what he believes, without, of course, forcing the viewer to accept, agree; without an imposition of values. Although he recognizes that he does it to convey and make people become better people.

It is expected that these considerations on the two pieces incite new readings and analyses that, of course, can expand the knowledge surrounding the subject. Thus, opening the conceptual “padlock” of this specific type of scenic art, demonstrating that its making is constant, adept and suitable to an audience that does not need to be classified as spiritist. It is, above all typology, an art of aesthetic appreciation and subject to many other readings.


ARISTÓTELES. Poética. Tradução de Eudoro de Souza. São Paulo: Abril, 1984, p. 243.

BRANDI, C. Teoria da restauração. Tradução Beatriz Mugayar Kühl. 2. ed. Cotia, São Paulo: Ateliê Editorial, 2005.

Caderno de Arte da Abrarte/Associação brasileira de artistas espíritas. Vol. 1 e 2. Ano 1º. Florianópolis, 2018.

CARDOSO, G. V. Em defesa de um teatro espírita. Disponível em: Acessado em 31/10/2019.

GARCIA, W. O espiritismo na sociedade do espetáculo. Disponível em . Acessado em: 31/10/2019.

MARTINS, B. Nazareno Tourinho: Encena linguagem teatral e cinematográfica. Anais do XIII Congresso Internacional da ABRALIC. 2013. Disponível em: . Acessado em: 08/11/2019.

SOARES, A. Gêneros Literários. Série Princípios. 7ª ed. São Paulo/SP. Editora Ática. 2007

TARKOVSKI, A. Esculpir o tempo. São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 2010.

TOURINHO, N. A caprichosa lição dos espíritos. Capivari/SP: Editora EME. 1997.

TOURINHO, N. A dramaturgia espírita. Rio de Janeiro-RJ:  Federação Espírita brasileira. 2ª ed. 1990.

TOURINHO, N. A estranha loucura de Lorena Martinez. Matão/SP: Ed. O Clarim. 1997.


4. Acyr Castro. Diário do Pará. 11/12/1982. Belém.

5. Author of numerous books: Surprises and curiosities of a mediumistic research; Brief course in spiritist philosophy; My sweet spiritist house, debuts others. In addition to the book The spiritist dramaturgy, 1991. The two pieces, under study in this text, were published in 1997, and gathered in the complete work, already referenced.

6. Plays by Nazareno Tourinho. Org. Bene Martins. Belém, 2014.

7. Pádua Costa. Province of Pará. 21/04/1985. Belém.

8. Plays by Nazareno Tourinho. Org. Bene Martins. Belém: Ed. Cejip, 2014. (complete work).

9. Recommendation reiterated by the author, to all those interested in working with his pieces.

10. Now, doctrine, sometimes philosophy, sometimes ways of living to refer to some terms used for spiritism which, above all by the teachings of Christ, is a humanist par excellence.

11. Onde Estivestes de Noite (1974).

12. Lygia Facundes Telles published in 1981 the book “Mysteries – Mistérios” with 18 fantastic tales gathered under the sign of the supernatural and magic. The book features tense stories, sometimes suffocating, cruel and even ironic.

13. The Others is a 2001 Spanish-French-Italian thriller film directed by Alejandro Amenábar.

14. The Exorcist is a 1973 American supernatural horror film directed by William Friedkin and written by William Peter Blatty, based on the book of the same name. The film addresses the demonic possession of a 12-year-old girl. Blatty’s book was inspired by the exorcism of a 14-year-old boy documented in 1949.

15. Paranormal Activity is an American horror film of independent production released in 2007. It is made in the form of a pseudodocumentary, using a common hand camera to convey the impression that the scenes shown are real. It was written and directed by Oren Peli.

16. The Conjuring (in Brazil, Invocação do Mal; in Portugal, The Conjuring – A Evocação) is an American horror film directed by James Wan. The film is also based on real events.

17. The Shining (in Brazil,: O Iluminado; in Portugal: Shining) is a 1980 British-American horror, drama and thriller film directed by Stanley Kubrick and directed by Diane Johnson and Kubrick himself based on the novel of the same name by Stephen King.

18. Always (in Brazil,: Além da eternidade) is a 1989 American novel film directed by Steven Spielberg and written on Chandler Sprague’s A Guy Named Joe.

19. Ghost (in Brazil: Ghost: Do Outro Lado da Vida) is a 1990 American drama, thriller, black humor and romantic fantasy film directed by Bruce Joel Rubin. Ghost was released in theaters on July 13, 1990 by Paramount Pictures.

20. City of Angels (in Brazil and Portugal; City of Angels) is a 1998 American-German film directed by Brad Silberling.

21. The Lovely Bones (in Brazil: Um Olhar do Paraíso[3][4]; in Portugal: Visto do Céu[5][6]) is a 2009 neo-British-American-American film of the genres Drama, suspense and fantasy, directed by Peter Jackson, with his screenplay, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens based on Alice Sebold’s novel The Lovely Bones, published in 2002

22. What Dreams May Come (in Portugal: Para Além do Horizonte[5]; in Brazil: Amor Além da Vida[1]) is a 1998 American film of the romantic-fantastic drama genre, directed by Vincent Ward with a script based on the novel of the same name by Richard Matheso.

23. Yesterday’s Children (bra: Minha Vida na Outra Vida[1][2]) is a 2000 American film of the biographical drama genre, directed by Marcus Cole, with screenplay by Sarah Bird and Richard Leder based on Jenny’s autobiographical book Cockell.

24. Nosso Lar is a 2010 Brazilian film of the genres drama and spiritism, written and directed by Wagner de Assis. The script was based on the book of the same name, released in 1944, psychographed by the medium Chico Xavier, under the influence of the spirit André Luiz.

25. I use the term to explain the struggle of the spiritist community to introduce within the arts, the subject or the spiritist doctrine.

26. It is important to note that this information is subject to rebuttal. These data and/or information were collected from the book História da dramaturgia com temática espírita theme by Eduardo C. Monteiro, published in 1999 by Ed. Use.

27. As a dramaturgy focused on spiritism, Nazareno wrote the drama A Estranha Loucura de Lorena Martinez and the comedy Caprichosa Lição dos Espíritos. Both won, respectively, 1st and 2nd place in the 1st National Dramaturgy Competition for the Spiritist Theater held by the Theatrical Cooperative of NEACEP (Spiritist Center of Performing Arts Pirandello). In 2006, Lorena Martinez was adapted for the stage by the Company of the Art and Life Institute of Franca (SP) under the title Estranha Loucura, with direction and adaptation of Mauro Júnior and a cast of ten actors: Eneida Nalini, Mateus Oliveira, Roberto Sabino, Harriet Rezende, Sebastião Cassiano Filho, Jane Marinho, Edna de Paula, Douglas Gomes, Rodrigo Marques Silva e Mariane Araújo.

28. In addition to writing about the doctrine, he maintained a spiritist center in Belém. He published Minha doce casa espírita  (1998) in which he tells the history(s) of the house he founded and directed.

29. Tourinho highlights this impasse because of the need that most artists have in transforming their art into something moralistic, but art does not need to obey (and should not) such an idea, even when seeking indoctrination. The impasse, therefore, is: how to make doctrinal art without being moralistic?

30. Walter Francis Kerr (July 8, 1913 – October 9, 1996) was an American writer and Broadway theater critic. He was also the writer, lyricist, and/or director of various Broadway plays and musicals, as well as the author of several books, usually on the subject of theater and film.

[1] Plays by the playwright Nazareno Tourinho from Pará.

[2] PhD student of the Graduate Program in Arts (PPGARTES), federal university of Pará; Master of Arts (PPGARTES-UFPA). Professor at the Federal Institute of Amapá.

[3] PhD in Letters (UFMG); Post-doctorate in Theatre Studies (University of Lisbon); Professor of the School of Theater and Dance and the Graduate Program in Arts (PPGARTES), of the Federal University of Pará. Coordinator of the Research Project: Memory of Dramaturgy Amazônida: Construction of A dramaturgical Collection.

Submitted: October, 2020.

Approved: December, 2020.

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Bruno Sérvulo da Silva Matos

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