Welcome behind the cloth

This time, the usual monthly Glocal article Faro arrives in the form of an interview

Diana Bernedo and Miguel Martins Pessoa

The presentation at Largo do Carmo in Faro, last April 9, of plays by the community theater groups Matemurga from Argentina and Teatro dos Vizinhes from Faro it was enthusiastically welcomed by the large audience present, proving that theater can be a fun form of communication, but very effective in reinforcing awareness of collective problems.

There are several people from Glocal Faro who participate in community theater, so this time we present our chronicle in a particular format – an interview with the mentors of community theater in the Algarve, Miguel Martins Pessoa and Diana Bernedo.

How did the idea of ​​community theater in the Algarve come about and what connections are there with other groups?

The idea of ​​creating a Community Theater group, first in Quarteira, then in Faro, emerged in 2013, from a trip I took (Miguel Pessoa) to South America, to meet several Social Theater groups that work there, many of them for over 30 years.
In Argentina, I visited Community Theater Groups, namely Circuito Cultural Barracas, Catalina Sur, Los Villurqueros, Matemurga, Las Desatadas and Patricios Unidos de Pié. I had the opportunity to attend rehearsals, see shows, interview directors and members, and seeing the impact that the groups have on the community and on the territory in which they operate, the urgency of creating a first group in the city where I grew up, Quarteira, was clear.
At the national level, there are some Community Theater groups, with different formulas and methodologies. We are in contact with some, in order to create the first Community Theater network in Portugal.


Community Theater Group – Quarteira Outside the Box

When were community theater groups born in the Algarve, what are they, how have they evolved and what is your current situation?

The Community Theater Group – Quarteira Fora da Caixa was born in 2018, with a proposal from us to the Parish Council of Quarteira, which from the first moment embraced the idea, which was later joined by the Loulé City Council.
The rehearsals take place at the Municipal Auditorium in Quarteira and the group has been growing since its foundation. We have a show and a short film and at the moment we are starting the creation of the second show.
The Neighbors Theater – Faro was born in 2020, through an invitation from Teatro das Figuras to do a four-month project, whose idea was to create a Community Theater show in Faro and unite it with the Argentine group Matemurga. From this project comes the Teatro de VizinhEs group – Faro, which remains to this day.

What methodologies do you use to create the pieces you have presented to the public?

Each group has its nature. In our case, the groups are strongly inspired by the methodologies and philosophies of Argentine community theater, but also by our own way of functioning as directors and artists.
The sources that start a creative process are very diverse, community participation in the process is essential.
There are several phases, from training in different scenic disciplines; practices that will provide the group with tools that facilitate theatrical transposition; first conversations about possible themes and subjects that 'awaken us hunger' or that concern us as a territory and as a people, through improvisations, creation of lyrics and music for songs, creation of texts, creation of characters and their relationship with history.
We launched proposals to the Neighbors, provocations to extract raw material, from which we synthesized in compositions that will be part of dramaturgy. EVERYONE participates in these stages of creation, because they are shared and put according to what the neighbors want to tell.
Part of the participation is, in addition to being artistic, human, we prepare snacks, picnics, dinners, etc.


Neighbors Theater – Faro

And what about themes? Do the plays appeal to civic participation and social causes, namely environmental issues?

Yes, theater reflects human behavior in infinite perspectives. In the Community Theater, being a theater that presents collective realities, these questions inevitably appear, because they are matters that concern us. We are concerned about the future of the planet, young people, the present of the elderly, and our daily lives, in this survival in a capitalist society that does not work.

What resources and support do you have to support community theater groups?

The Community Theater has a part of self-management and a part of support from the municipalities.

And what are the characteristics of the people who make up theater groups?

The main characteristic is the willingness to participate in a Community Theater Group. There are no specific conditions, everyone is welcome! You just have to dare.

What goals and results do you expect and/or have already achieved with community theater?

We received wonderful testimonies from very different people, reporting their impressions as participants or as an audience, especially impressed to see so many people of different ages, performing, playing, singing and working together. This is truly transformative. No one is more or less than anyone else, everyone has a voice and a place. The older ones learn from the younger ones and vice versa. Creating and acting together empowers us.

How do you envision the future of community theater in the Algarve?

I hope there are more groups!

Do you want to add anything else?

If you want to try it, join us. Now that you've lurked behind the scenes, do you want to try out being an actor? We can guarantee it's fun and stimulating to participate in all stages – from creation to presentation of the pieces!


Miguel Martins Pessoa and Diana Bernedo are founders and mentors of the collective Yep and community theater groups in the Algarve: Neighbors' Theater Faro e Quarteira Out of the Box.