Interview: Mateus Barbosa de Silva
Edited by: 
Kamyron Williams

Q: Can you talk a little bit about how you became involved in the performing arts at the very beginning?

I'm originally from Brazil. So I grew up there, and came here for college. But in, schools in Brazil it is different than here. Here you have the arts and music and drama club and theater and all this stuff. In Brazil people just focus more on the actual core classes like biology, chemistry. We really don't have music or theater or dance in school. So the first time that I really saw it was I was doing an English course after school. My parents put me in this class to learn English, just an hour and a half twice a week. That is completely extracurricular out of school. And there they had a drama club to help students practice their English. So all the lines for the plays would be in English. And that's how I started. I started doing musicals at this English course, and I spent my whole childhood doing that and then started to take dance classes and voice lessons and really found out that I really loved it and really wanted to do that for the rest of my life. And then I researched schools so that I could go to musical theater school like go to university and major in it. I was looking in the US, because I knew that was where Broadway was and, and there's more opportunity here (in the US.) So I started during my senior year, actually of high school. I started to do some research to see if it was possible. and I found a company that pretty much helps you apply for American universities. They help you with the process to apply for musical theater arts schools in the US because the process is so different, you really need guidance. So I did that and everything happened really fast. And then, in 2013, I was in Texas, starting my four year major in musical theater and dance.

Q: What have been some challenges in your pre-professional or professional career?

Most of my professional career has been here in the United States, and most of the challenges have been affiliated with me being a foreigner and English not being my first language. I'm the only one from my family here in the United States, no uncle or cousin that I could go to if I'm in trouble or going through turmoil. The loneliness part, and having to find my group of people and friends has been the hardest part of my professional career in the U.S.

Q: How do you think that the performing arts can be a platform for social justice issues?

We're kind of the underdogs, for centuries people have seen the arts and theater as something that is either not important or a real job, and its important that we work to change.

As artists, we all share this sense of love and community and as you know, everyone has different ideas and we should be able to express those different religions, different colors, different everything. And I feel that people are starting to use that even more now.

Q: How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you as a performing artist?

I was in the middle of my second tour and we were supposed to perform until May 17 and unfortunately, we got cut short.  

I had planned to have two extra months of work and savings, So financially it has been difficult but thankfully I have saved up some money, and it's been okay so far.

I came back to New York and it was kind of wild because I had been living on my life traveling on tour from city to city for the past year and not having an actual home. I went from that extreme to just being confined to my little New York apartment, for who knows how many weeks.

It's so scary thinking about the future especially here in New York City, we're currently in the epicenter of the virus. There are thousands of seats and people sitting close to each other, and that's not going to very well with a pandemic. We don’t know when we will go back to work or when auditions will resume, but the theaters will probably be the last to return.

Q: Can you talk about you kind of touched on that a little bit about your initial reactions and what it looked like what process you were in Where were you when the US first started to shut down and then also what you were hearing from your family back at home and how the pandemic kind of has affected them or if affected if Brazil?

It all happened so fast, I'm always seeing new news of what's going on in the world. Especially on Facebook, people are always posting about the New York Times and I try to read as much as I can every day. I knew what was going on and that the virus was spreading to other countries.

Both of my parents are in the medical and my two younger brothers are quarantining. They're taking good care of themselves and doing all the protective measures to make sure that they can be as safe as possible but it's still a little scary, of course.

Q: What does the daily routine, or week look like for you, and what have you been working on or filling your days with during this time?

In the last month of the tour, I was trying to work out and work on fitness, a little more, because I love dancing but I've never been the one to love the gym. I was trying to focus on that and I started this workout. It's an app I used to workout called “Built for the Stage.” You pretty much get like a virtual personal trainer so I've been actually working on that a lot here (during the pandemic) every day I get a new workout which is good, it gives me a sense of a routine. It is the only thing that I do every day that I know that I'm gonna do in this quarantine season. So that's a good thing, and I also love movies and I love series and I love television, which is a good thing. A lot of people don't. But I could spend the whole day watching Netflix, which is one of the things that I do a lot too. So usually, a day I wake up at like either 10 or 11 have some breakfast, watch some TV, I usually do my one hour workout, sometimes I do my roommate is the instructor so sometimes she everyday she'll be doing some sample studies and sometimes I'll join her and she'll join me. But a lot of trying to work out every day and, but also trying to just watch a lot of movies, which has been good, actually. I don't have a lot of time to watch movies usually or series so it has been good, and updated.

Q: Have you been staying in touch with the cast that you were touring?

I have! Every Sunday we try to game nights and we have a group text chat with most of the dancers from the tour and a lot of Zooming. We still talk, and we're still talking about this show, and what's going to happen next.

Q: What would you like to see change in the musical theater world?

In the musical theater world, I hope that more people can become Equity. I'm sure you know what it's like not being apart of the actor’s union and unfortunately there's a lot of differences.  Sometimes we’re pretty much doing the same jobs, with the same talent, the same sets and the same costumes, but there's still way less privileges (like common basic needs, fair salary, travel accommodations, physical therapy for the dancers, etc).

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