Carpina - PE
Carpina, located in the region of Zona da Mata in Pernambuco State, has an estimated population of 75.706. Access to the town, around 50km from the capital Recife, can be by the federal highway BR-408 (IBGE, CNM, 2011). This region is situated in a transition area between the Agreste and coast, where the predominant features are sugar plantations and sugar mills and alcohol plants. The settlement in Zona da Mata occurred in as early as the first half of the 16th century, when the Portuguese would have begun their economic exploration by planting sugarcane (Alcure, 2007). With the sugar mills, hamlets and farming centres grew up that, later, gave origin to the oldest municipalities in the region. The municipality of Carpina was first populated in the second half of the 17th century by explorers of Brazil wood and cattle farmers. With the expanding economic activities sugar mills were built and subsistence crops were planted. In 1928, what was then a town was promoted to the municipality and in 1938 was named Carpina (IBGE, 2011). Gilberto Freyre (apud Alcure, 2007) stresses that, among the qualities of this single cropping organisation, the artistic and cultural expressions created by this social relations system are worth mentioning. Alcure (2007: 32) states that, “this socio-cultural universe helped develop the mamulengo puppet and so many other entertainments of the local inhabitants”. The Zona da Mata in Pernambuco is considered the most evident social space of the mamulengo puppet theatre. In general, the mamulengo can be defined as a special form of the puppet theatre. This is a “theatre of laughter” whose characteristic is to integrate the public, which recognizes its elements and dialogues with scenes intended to be familiar (Alcure, 2007). Solon Alves de Mendonça, born in 1920 in Cachoeira do Salodo (PE), was one of the great names of the mamulengo puppet theatre in Brazil. When only eight years old and living in Carpina, he watched a puppet show and that was the start of his link with the mamulengos. He began to carve his puppets, showing talent in his treatment of the wood. Solon not only made puppets but also created ventriloquist dolls and decoration (Frota, 2005; Mascelani, 2006). He stayed for almost 19 years in Rio de Janeiro and incorporated urban influences in his puppets. This is why he is considered one of the artists who contributed to forming what is called urban mamulengos (Alcure, 2007). His repertoire includes fantasy characters from folk plays, chapbook literature and military parades. Solon died in 1987. His work is found in the collection of various Brazilian museums.