Brazilian novelist, playwright, director, professor and researcher. Interested in theatre from a young age, in 1945 Hermilo Borba de Carvalho Filho founded with his colleague at the Law Faculty, writer Ariano Suassuna, the Teatro do Estudante de Pernambuco (TEP, Pernambuco Students’ Theatre). In 1957, his work at the theatre was awarded a prize from the Associação Paulista de Críticos Teatrais (APCT, Paulist Association of Theatre Critics). He subsequently received four awards from the Associação de Críticos Teatrais de Pernambuco (Theatre Critics Association of Pernambuco, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1968).
Devoting himself to the research and preservation of cultural traditions of the Brazilian people, Borba Filho founded, in 1958, the Teatro Popular do Nordeste (TPN, Popular Theatre of the Northeast). Three years later, with a group of intellectuals (including Ariano Suassuna and the sociologist Paulo Freire), he founded in Recife the Movimento de Cultura Popular (MCP, Popular Cultural Movement), which proposed, through the means of education and the arts, to make the masses politically aware and to prepare them for social struggle.
His major contribution to the development of Brazilian puppet theatre was his book, financed by the Joaquim Nabuco Institute for Social Research, published under the title Fisionomia e Espírito do Mamulengo (Physiognomy and Spirit of Mamulengo, 1966). After making a historical presentation of puppetry arts in the world, followed by a study of Brazilian puppetry arts and of the mamulengo traditions of the Northeast, he proposed a “metaphysics of the puppet” (“metafísica do boneco”). It is the first study of its kind published in Brazil, and has since become an important reference work. Hermilo Borba Filho is also the author of Espetáculos Populares do Nordeste (Popular Performances of the Northeast), in which he addresses, besides the mamulengo genre, bumba-meu-boi, a form of popular theatre, which mixes masks, actors and puppets (see *Bumba Meu Boi). In 1997, TV Globo produced and aired O Almirante (The Admiral), an adaptation of one of his stories.