This islands have a strong cultural legacy. Auto de Floripes (performed once a year, by the entire population of Príncipe) and
Tchiloli are famous day-long pieces of musical theatre, that have been performed since the 16th century, and can now be seen as distinctly anticolonial stories.
Some of the greatest testimonies of distant Portuguese acculturation are the “Sao Lourenço” and “Tchiloli”, both part of the cycle of stories of Charlemagne brought in the sixteenth century by the Portuguese immigrants settled in Sao Tome and Principe to work on the sugar cane plantation.
Auto de Floripes. Performed annually on August 10, Auto de Floripes or São Lourenço de Príncipe involves the entire population of Principe island in a dramatic battle between Christians and Moors. A true epic street theater performances that are authentic anachronisms from the colonial culture adapted to modern Africa.
Tchilôli, The tragedy of the Marquis of Mantua. Tchilôli is a “hybrid” theatre. It retains the complete Portuguese Renaissance text, the original characters and the “unities”, but it adds many elements of African origin: the music, the choreography, the costumes, the musical instruments, the dances, the many mimed scenes and the pantomime. The most important tchilôli is Tragédia do Marquês de Mântua e o Imperador Carloto Magno (The tragedy of the Marquis of Mantua and the Emperor Charlemagne), wich was written by Baltazar Dias, a blind sixteenth-century Madeiran poet. The play tells us how the Marquis of Mantua discovers that his nephew has been stabbed to death, and how Prince Charlemagne, who is guilty of this misdeed, is condemned. The Tragédia lasts for six hours, although there are shorter versions that last between one and three hours.
Danço Congo. Another theatrical manifestation from Sao Tome is the danço Congo, which is also known as the Tragédia do Capitão Congo (The tragedy of Captain Congo). The danço congo is a huge dance sequence telling the story of the sufferings of a Congolese king who was deported to the islands as a slave. The story makes no use of oral texts and relies instead on mimicry, dance and song. Although the figures of this dance sequence are derived from classic European theatre (the Fool, the Devil, the Hangman), the manner in which the dance is performed is clearly of African origin.
Several theater companies perform in the capital and tour the provinces.