Interview with José Pina, director of Teatro Aveirense

Teatro Aveirense is essential in the national artistic context. As proved by its programme, the theatre intends to address the top current themes, such as gender issues, democratization processes and public space. Teatro Aveirense hosts several artistic projects, residencies, and shows that go beyond theatre, encompassing dance or cinema, stimulating the ability to see the realm of performing arts as a whole. We interviewed José Pina, director of Teatro Aveirense, about the programme that celebrates the 140th anniversary of this space.

Rodrigo Fonseca – In Teatro Aveirense’s 140th anniversary programme, I must highlight the multidisciplinary projects Aveiro Revisited, a cine-concert by Edgar Pêra and Vítor Rua, and the show A fog machine e outros poemas para o teu regresso, by the composer Nuno Aroso. I’d like you to tell me a little about these projects.

José Pina – There are two premieres. Teatro Aveirense, in the musical programming, chose different projects that had some connection to the territory. In that sense, the choice of these two projects was determined by the aesthetics, the artistic quality and the framing of aspects related to the identity and biography of Aveiro. The show A fog machine e outros poemas para o teu regresso was developed in partnership with a musical creation structure based in Aveiro. The text is by Gonçalo M. Tavares, renowned writer with strong ties to Aveiro. The project by Edgar Pêra and Vítor Rua works the landscape and geography of our territory. These two choices reflect a priority of ours: to have contemporary and irreverent content that uses our geography. In doing so, we nurture affective relationships not only between the projects and the public.

RF – And that affection is noticeable. Affective relationships are one of the few things that remain in people’s memories. Geography, «our» geography, manages to stimulate and render our sensibilities visible.

JP – Obviously, it is not always possible to have projects with these traits, with a narrative attached to the territory. But we always try to mix what is global, what is in the market and that addresses things like sustainability, climate change, gender issues, democratization processes… All the current themes. We try to combine them with regional and local projects that address the territory of Aveiro, its places, history, identity, the immaterial heritage of its culture. Teatro Aveirense must work in this sense. This theatre is more than a programming space: it is a place of creation and free cultural access to everyone. First, we work for our public and our public is all those who live in the geography of Aveiro. But we are aware that Teatro Aveirense, in relation to programming and artistic creation, is at the level of its peers. This is another dimension, not the main one, because our mission is not that. But we are aware that it emerges due to the work developed.

RF – Can you tell us a little about the work developed with the Circolando structure? A work that has André Lepecki’s body-file concept as its inspiration.

JP – We have been working regularly with Circolando. It’s an artistic structure focused on contemporary circus and physical theatre. In recent years, from my point of view, it has been following a more alternative path. Together, we’ve done various projects and training activities. In relation to the circus arts, it’s a very important structure on a national level. Our next collaboration will take place next summer, at Festival dos Canais.

RF – The program that celebrates 140 years of Teatro Aveirense also includes the festivals Criatech – Criatividade Digital and Prisma/Art Light Tech. I would like you to tell me a little about them.

JP – These are two events in our programme for an objective reason: Teatro Aveirense does not have a specific artistic strand. It relies on multidisciplinarity, it approaches several disciplines, aesthetics and artistic techniques. The goal is to reach different audiences. Without being related to the pandemic, as this subject was debated by the theatre staff even before that. We felt the need to use different dynamics and a strategy to strengthen the theatre as a cultural and creative hub. We chose to include in the programming something associated with digital, technology and public space. For us, Teatro Aveirense must have an existence beyond its walls, with the purpose of being a pivotal hub in the cultural dynamics of our territory. The Criatech festival is a project focused on digital and technology, on the relationship between artistic production and technology. Working with our built heritage, the contents and actions of this festival take place in equipment classified as national or municipal heritage. Prisma/Art Light Tech is a light festival that takes place in public space and invites the public to get lost in the city, in the paths created in the historical area, its oldest part. And public space is a priority for the theatre! And we do it at two moments: at this time of year with the festivals; and, in the summer, when we set up our biggest event (one of the major street arts festivals in the country): Festival dos Canais.

RF – It is very interesting to mention the importance and power of the public space. Teatro Aveirense is a public space.

JP – Exactly! It’s extremely important to democratize the access to the cultural element, the creative object. The public space, when properly developed, with production and communication requirements satisfied, presents an artistic quality and dimension, allowing us to bring other audiences to the theatre.

RF – Do you want to highlight anything in the programming until the end of the year?

JP – I want to highlight the short films in partnership with the association Plano Obrigatório, that will have their national premier at the end of the year at Teatro Aveirense: Intervalo by Eduardo Maia, Mariana Vilhena, Pedro Gomes and Tiago Daniel Sá (November 2); Carnaval Sujo by José Miguel Moreira (November 9); and Galope by Raquel Felgueiras (November 30).

Rodrigo Fonseca (1995, Sintra). He studied at António Arroio, has a degree in History of Art and a master in Performing Arts from FCSH/UNL. He was co-founder of the publishing house CusCus Discus and of the festival Dia Aberto às Artes. Besides Umbigo magazine, he writes music criticism for Rimas e Batidas. He is a sound technician specialized in concerts and shows and resident artist at the cultural association DARC.

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