A Descoberta Das Américas

By Dario Fo | Directed by Alessandra Vannucci

  • Portuguese with Spanish subtitles
  • 80 minutes
  • + 14 years

A single actor on stage recreates the astonishing story of Johan Padan, who arrived in America with Christopher Columbus and ended up fighting against Spanish domination.

A man called Johan Padan avoids the stake during the Inquisition in Seville by getting on one of Christopher Columbus’ Portuguese man-o’-war. In the New World, he survives a shipwreck, witnesses massacres, is imprisoned, is made a slave and is almost eaten by cannibals. Over time, he learns the natives’ language, wins them over and gets away with things by performing ‘miracles’ with some skill and a lot of luck. Revered as the child of the sun and the moon, Padan has one aim - to lead the natives into battle to free them from Spanish control.

Based on the book of the same name by Italian writer Dario Fo, this one-man show captures the onstage energy of Brazilian actor Julio Adrião, who plays all of the story’s characters: Indians, Spaniards, horses, chickens, fish, Jesus and Mary Magdalene. Adrião has spent 15 years travelling the world with this stripped-back, blunt play about trickery that draws the audience in.

Cast and crew

Translated and adapted by: Alessandra Vannucci and Julio Adrião | Directed by: Alessandra Vannucci | Cast: Julio Adrião | Set design: Gabriella Marra | Lighting: Luiz André Alvim | Lighting set-up and operation: Gulga Ensá | Executive producer: Fernando Alax | Produced by: Julio Adrião Produções Artísticas Ltd.

Alessandra Vannucci


Revitalizing a certain style of theater

Italian playwright and theater director Vannucci is an arts graduate from the University of Bologna, with a Masters in Theater from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and a PhD. in Arts from the Catholic University in the same city. She has written several books, including Crítica de la razón teatral: el teatro en Brasil visto por Ruggero Jacobbi (2005) and La misión italiana: historias de una generación de directores italianos en Brasil (2014).

Julio Adrião


A focus on physical expression

This Brazilian actor, producer and theater director (1960) worked for six years in Italy with the Potlach and Abraxa Theaters, concentrating on physical preparation for actors. Back in Brazil, he created the comedy trio Cia. Do Público in 1994, which lasted until 2002. As an actor, he has taken part in several audiovisual and theater productions, working with Moacyr Góes, Fábio Junqueira, Lucia Coelho, Mauricio Abud and Isabella Irlandini, as well as other directors. In 2005, he won the Shell/RJ Award for best one-man performance for A descoberta das Americas.

“Júlio Adrião’s play is top-notch, a real jewel of a piece that maintains the illusion in the narrative of improvisation and going with the flow”.

O Globo newspaper, Brazil

“I’ve never seen a popular, epic, romantic classic in such perfect harmony as in this show”.

-- Critic Fausto Wolff, Jornal do Brasil.

“Undoubtedly a creation critically acclaimed by experts and different audiences alike. During its run in Rio de Janeiro, news of the impressive physical and vocal specter created by Adrião spread by word of mouth”.
-- O Estado de Sao Paulo

-It is a long-running play. Premiered in 2005, it has been performed on stages for 15 years, in a total of eight countries on four continents and with more than 700 performances. A descoberta das Americas is still an exhilarating, interesting and innovative piece that continues to captivate audiences after more than a decade. “The movements of his body and facial expressions are the waves on which the audience enjoys sailing”, said a Rionoteatro critic in Brazil.

-Its cast is made up of well-known actor Julio Adrião from Rio de Janeiro, who, using his mastery of body and voice, brings to life a series of characters, seducing the audience with his energy. “Julio, you’re the most brazen, the most stripped-back; free from the restraints of convention and mastering muscles, tongue, voice, eyes, all in a way I won’t forget”, says Sergio Brito, a Brazilian theater critic.

One-man show: This type of theater production features a single actor or actress on stage, playing several characters during the performance as opposed to a monologue that only has one. This form puts an emphasis on the creator’s artistic vision, with one of its pioneers being North American dancer and choreographer Isadora Duncan.



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