Denise Stoklos

Article Bio Works
body, gender, power, sexuality
Performing Arts (dance, performance)
America, South
São Paulo
created on:
May 28, 2003
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Denise Stoklos
"A Fax from Denise Stoklos to Christopher Colombus" © Bel Pedrosa


Essential Theatre

Denise Stoklos is the most outstanding female solo performer, director and author in Brazil: she has been voted best actress nine times in her home country. In her pieces she explores the relationships between gender, body, sexuality and power. She has summarised her theory of theatre in the book "Essential Theatre".
The solo performer Denise Stoklos is one of the best known personalities in the Brazilian theatre scene. She is actress, director, author and producer in one. She began her stage work in 1968. She presented her "Denise Stoklos – One Woman Show" in 1978 on one of her first European tours, and since then she regularly performs both here and at "La MaMa" in New York. "Adult Orgasm Escapes from the Zoo", "Denise Stoklos in Mary Stuart" and "Civil Disobedience" are her most well-known productions of recent years.

Body and voice are at the heart of her performances. With the minimum of gestures, movements and words she creates an intensity which makes her audience forget real time.

"Casa" is the last part of a trilogy which narrates the daily life of a woman. She simply goes about her everyday activities: comes back from her demanding office work, drinks a glass of water, showers, telephones, raids the fridge, plays with the children. Nothing special, but Denise Stoklos puts paid to the way we take everyday life for granted. The whole thing turns into something grotesque, into a domestic melodrama. What emerges is a "wonderfully choreographed cacophony which runs through the full scale of emotions", in the opinion of New York´s "Downtown".

Stoklos´ power and originality lie in her humour and the intensity with which she moulds completely disparate artistic and political traditions into a very personal performance. In all her pieces she works with a mixture of pantomime, cabaret, juggling, through to the devices of epic theatre. In this way, she places herself in the humanistic tradition. For she is always moved by the question: Can we transform the historic path of violence into a life-affirming strategy?

In her career she has played cranky characters from the Brazilian military dictatorship just as she has shown postmodern alienation in "Casa". In her "500 Years - A Fax from Denise Stoklos to Columbus" (1992), she dealt with the continuing existence of colonialism. "Denise Stoklos in Mary Stuart" (1987) shows the agonising political and personal demands on women in positions of political leadership, a group of themes which she relates to the situation of mothers in "Des-Medéia" (1994). And in "Civil Disobedience" (1999), she investigates political options at the end of the twentieth century.

In her standard work "Essential Theatre" she writes: "As actress, author and director I am always calling power, social injustice, normative behaviour, aesthetics and the way this capitalistic patriarchal system functions into question. The microcosmic movements of society interest me less and less... I am becoming more and more of an anarchist and laugh at politicians more and more often. I save myself by following my own personal path."

Events at the HKW:
5th and 6th September, 1992
Denise Stoklos
Organiser: House of World Cultures


Denise Stoklos was born in Irati, Paraná. Her career as actress, author, director and producer began in 1968. After working in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, she emigrated to London with her husband in 1977, where she began to develop the typical style of her solo performances. Having returned to Brazil, she appeared in several of her own pieces, which she had directed and choreographed. She passes on her knowledge in workshops. In 1999 a festival took place with her pieces in her home town of São Paulo.

Denise Stoklos was the first Brazilian actress to perform in Moscow and Peking. She has performed her twenty pieces in seven languages, has appeared in thirty countries and has written seven books. Her theatre theory can be explored in her "Essential Theatre". Denise Stoklos has two children.


Vozes Dissonantes

Production / Performance,

Desobediênzia Civil

Production / Performance,


Production / Performance,

500 Anos - Um Fax de Denise Stoklos para Christovão Colombo

Production / Performance,

Essential Theatre

Published Written,


Production / Performance,

Denise Stoklos in Mary Stuart

Production / Performance,

Elis Regina

Production / Performance,

One Woman Show

Production / Performance,

Círculo na Lua, Lama na Rua

Production / Performance,