A repost of a blog entry I made for Provisions Library on May 18th:
Murga is a form of popular musical theatre performed in Uruguay leading up to and during the Carnival season. The origin of Murga is from Cadiz, Spain. This art form is considered a cultural icon of Uruguay.
A traditional Murga group is composed of a chorus and three percussionists, with the vocal performance the main attraction. At most there are 17 Murgaristas in a group, usually men, who dress elaborate, colorful costumes (A group performing in Jamaica Plains, Massachusetts). An average show is approximately 45 minutes with the objective of providing commentary on events in Uruguay.
Like most street theatre, there are elements of resistance in Murga. During Uruguay’s dictatorship in the 1970’s some Murga groups (such as Araca La Cana), took on left-wing views in their performance and provided commentary on the political situation. Here is a video of a Murga performance mocking Hugo Chavez.