This film was written and directed, as a joint project, by Dr Matthias Assunção from our Department of History.
You can read more about his research interests at: essex.ac.uk/history/staff/profile.aspx?ID=1064
To find out more about studying history at Essex go to: essex.ac.uk/depts/history.aspx
The Film Verses and Cudgels documents stick playing and its insertion into the Afro-Brazilian culture in the Paraíba valley. Its protagonists are the descendants of slaves who worked on the coffee plantations during the nineteenth century. The first part of the film recreates the atmosphere of the calango dances, where two or more singers improvise verses and challenge each other to the music of an accordion, a drum and tambourines. Tensions and rivalries that existed between plantations and villages also came to the fore during these dances, which often ended in brawls. At that moment the men confronted each other with cudgel blows or sweeping kicks. But sticks were also used on estates and in villages for a friendly entertainment called the "stick game", played on Sundays. The film seeks to give more visibility to this Afro-Brazilian combat tradition, which in many places only remains in the memory of some old practitioners. The existence of the stick game, or its memory, provides some new tracks for history of capoeira.
Written and directed by: Matthias Röhrig Assunção & Hebe Mattos