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Teatro Nacional São João

Teatro Nacional São João

Member since 2003

Artistic Director: Nuno Cardoso

Managing Director: Pedro Sobrado

Porto, Portugal

Teatro Nacional São João (TNSJ) is the result of the initiative made by the city of Porto. Both the original Real Teatro de São João, destroyed by fire in 1908, and its reincarnation, which opened on 7 March, 1920 (and is today a national monument), were built by Porto’s elites, associations and general population. That feeling of belonging is renewed daily, both through the public’s adhesion to the theatre’s shows and through the love the people of Porto feel for their built heritage. It became Portugal’s theatre in 1992, the year in which the building was purchased by the Portuguese State and underwent in-depth renovation works. The Ministry of Culture made it the first National Theatre of democratic Portugal, an essential part of a policy of cultural decentralization in the country’s North. The TNSJ quickly became a vibrant artistic project and a reputed stage production structure, combining the staging of the most important Portuguese and international dramatic works with the latest developments in stage art. Presently, the TNSJ is also a theatre of Europe. Besides having strong relationships with many Portuguese entities – such as other public theatres, independent companies, artists, schools and universities –, it is now engaged in an inquisitive and demanding relationship with the universe of European theatre, as a member of the Union of European Theatres, the historic art theatre network founded by Giorgio Strehler. The TNSJ, which also includes Teatro Carlos Alberto and the São Bento da Vitória Monastery, is first and foremost a stage, in other words, a house for theatrical creation, however, the scope of its action is broad, comprising projects aimed at school age publics, a publishing programme of recognised merit, a relevant documental source in the field of performing arts, and a special investment in providing easy accessibility to all our patrons. On the threshold of its first centenary, today, the TNSJ is an elite theatre for all. Currently, the activities of the TNSJ take place in several buildings, in emblematic areas of Porto. Quite different from one another, these spaces contribute to the plural quality of this national theatre, fulfilling distinct, but complementary purposes. Designed by Marques da Silva, who drew inspiration from the French architecture of the late 1800s and early 1900s, the one-hundred-year-old São João is a remarkable piece of Portuguese theatrical and architectural heritage. This Neoclassical building was built with modern construction techniques, employing concrete and cement mortar to create its basic structure as well as its exterior finishes and decorations. Purchased by the Portuguese State in the early 1990, it was then restored and refurbished. Today, it hosts the TNSJ productions, as well as productions of other major theatres. Inaugurated in 1897, Teatro Carlos Alberto was named after the exiled Sardinian king, who had come to live in a mansion in Porto, in whose garden the theatre was built. Being a space that has a strong presence in the city’s collective memory, TeCA (which was known for a while as Auditório Nacional Carlos Alberto) was, in the early 2000s, the subject of a full renovation, in accordance with a project by Nuno Lacerda Lopes, and placed under the control of the TNSJ. Besides hosting our Educational Centre, TeCA is also a privileged platform for several Portuguese and foreign stage productions. Built during the 17th and 18th centuries, the São Bento da Vitória Monastery is the largest religious edifice in Porto. An important part of this national monument – namely its magnificent main cloister – is managed by the TNSJ, whose documentation centre it houses, alongside a permanent exhibition of stage designs and costumes. More than a performance hall, the monastery offers the TNSJ a major space for experimentation and rehearsal, as well as providing guided tours to the São Bento da Vitória Church, a building of great architectural and ornamental beauty.