Stories of Habiba in São Paulo

02 de julho de 2016

São Paulo – Habiba is a girl that reads stories in magical rugs. No, no, there’s nothing written in them, but she’s able to read them anyway. Ádil is a prince that will need to face a lion when he turns 18 and is very afraid of this day. Khalil is an aunt that is a ghost that shows up to her nephew after the many lies he used to tell about ghosts. These three are characters of Habiba, a puppet theater storytelling play scheduled for three performances on Saturday, July 16, at Sesc Santo Amaro (the Santo Amaro district branch of the Social Service of Commerce) in the city of São Paulo.

Actress Cris Miguel created and performs the play. A descendant of Lebanese, she based it on her singing grandfather to bring the Arab way of storytelling into children’s universe. Habiba was how Cris’ paternal grandfather used to call her (and also now the name of her pet dog). Born in Argentina, the son of a Lebanese father, he wasn’t a musician, but used to sing in a funny way to his granddaughter, which made her laugh and gave her encouragement to pursuit the arts. Later, the actress found more about her origins by learning Arab dance and researching ethnic music. 

The storytelling show Habiba is the actress’s first to be inspired in the Arab world. Cris performs alone in the show. The interaction with the audience takes place while the stories are being told in the actress’s voice – in fact, in her many voices. The character Habiba, the girl that reads rugs, is introduced by the actress as the only one to be able to achieve the feat. That is, if a girl watching the play is asked by the performer and is unable to do the same. The Habiba doll was created by Cris together with Paula Galasso.

When aunt Khalil enters the stage, she urges the audience to guess the name of her lying nephew. Almost everyone guesses the name as Pinocchio. But his name is Salim. And when the play turns to the story of prince Ádic, the audience is invited to reflect about fear. The boy flees to avoid facing the lion, but other fears appear in his way.

The play was concluded around a year ago and was already performed in the city and state of São Paulo. Besides the puppet theater, the actress is involved with other projects. Last year, she presented the play Carmencita, an adaptation for children of the famous opera Carmen, by Frenchman Georges Bizet, directed by Danilo Tomic. Early this year, also in a partnership with Tomic, she produced the puppet theater “Tanto Mar” (So Much Sea, in a literal translation), using songs by songwriter Dorival Caymmi. In the second half of this year, she will present a play based on the songs of Luiz Gonzaga.

Besides being an actress, Cris is an accordion player, singer and dancer. She concluded her major in music at Paraná Arts College and is a member of the Mawaca group, which researches ethnic music. She is also the creator of the children’s TV show Baú de Histórias (Chest of Stories), aired by Cultura and Rá Tim Bum TV channels, among other cultural and artistic activities.

Storytelling “Habiba”
Saturday, July 16, 2016
1 pm, 3 pm and 5 pm – Free admission
Sesc Santo Amaro, at Sala de Múltiplo Uso (multipurpose room), ground floor
Rua Amador Bueno, 505 – São Paulo – SP

*Translated by Sérgio Kakitani