Arts and culture

Theater play puts the spotlight on animal rights

Benjamin was written by Arthur Haroyan, who was inspired by his dog Raffí.

Benjamin is a stylish theater piece dealing with existential issues affecting non-humans

Animal rights will be on stage with a theater production that opens today in São Paulo. A play called Benjamin deals with the injustices suffered by animals, the poor conditions of animals shelters, abandonment, euthanasia, sacrifice and other issues.

Benjamin is affected by issues that stem from human indifference. He is, in a way, a representative of all animals going through similar things.

The play is Grupo ARCA‘s third production. It was written by Hungarian actor Arthur Haroyan and it tells the story of a dog called Benjamin, played by Mário Goes, a mongrel who inspires profound changes in Berta’s life (Júlia Marques).

Berta adopted Benjamin after being betrayed by her husband Nöah (Lisandro Leite) during their honeymoon in Istanbul (Turkey).

Arthur was inspired to write the play when his dog Raffí died last year.

“Raffí was an akita dog. I got him when he was a baby and I fell in love with him. He was like a cat and I allowed him to be a cat and educated him like a human. He was recognized as the most elegant dog in Brooklin. Nobody could be indifferent to him. Neighbors compared his walk to Gisele Bündchen’s,” jokes the actor and playwright.

He adds that he always wanted to advocate for animals in his writing in response to all the cruelty against non-humans.

“While I was researching, Raffí fell ill with cancer. I wanted to pay homage to him and other furry friends. We traveled together. I was the happiest person. Sadly, he passed away before I could finish the text.”

The play’s set design takes inspiration from the 1940’s and silent cinema, Chaplin’s cinema and the structure of a chess game, with black and white pieces that collide and mix during the game.

“The set is made up of several geometric and white elements, which change color after Benjamin enters the stage and change again after Nöah’s return,” Arthur tells.

He highlights Nöah’s arrival fouls the ambiance. He brings in tow a venomous and heavy atmosphere to a space that had been made colorful by Benjamin’s arrival.

Like in the two previous runs of the play, audiences can get half-price tickets by donating 1 kilo of pet food. The two seasons had a combined food donation of half a ton.

Besides, at the end of the play one shelter dog comes on stage to be adopted. Altogether, nine dogs have been adopted so far.

Benjamin runs to February 16, every Saturday (9pm) and Sunday (7pm). It is playing at Giostri Livraria Teatro – R. Rui Barbosa 201 – Bela Vista, São Paulo. Phone: 2309-4102. Tickets cost R$40 (full price) and R$20 (half price). Online tickets: Sympla.

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