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São Brás de Alportel invests in culture

The travelling theatre
São Brás de Alportel invests in culture

São Brás de Alportel invests in culture

Saturday, 1st june 2024.


I got to know Luis Vicente* when he visited me half an eternity ago at the Rotarians in Almancil. It was he who came up with the idea of the theatre bus. ACTA – A Companhia de Teatro do Algarve* – had been given a double-decker bus (VATe), whose MOT had expired, and which was in urgent need of repair. He showed me the vehicle at a garage in Olhão: it had been completely stripped down and was standing on the platform lift; it required a lot of welding work and its load-bearing parts needed to be reinforced. So, I helped him to obtain the funds he needed to restore the bus. I have fond memories of this collaboration, because the VATe* project travelled to schools in the rural communities of the inland areas, where children had neither a theatre nor even a stage on which to spend their time in a meaningful way. The idea was to promote theatre as a form of education and to develop an understanding of culture in the Algarve.

* https://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lu%C3%ADs_Vicente
* http://actateatro.org.pt/
* https://vate.com.pt/


No street party, no entertainment, no deafening “pimba” music. My colleague, Sofia Silva, the press officer at São Brás de Alportel town hall, regularly sends me press releases. She is diligent. This week, for example, she informed me and many other colleagues that the travelling theatre is one of the items at the top of the agenda of the mayor Vitor Guerreiro (PS) and his councillors. São Brás de Alportel has signed a cultural development contract for 2024 and 2025 with ACTA, who will give 17 separate performances of six plays at the local Cineteatro Jaime Pinto over a two-year period, as well as taking them to the various schools around the municipality by theatre bus.

This partnership is designed to make the local population’s access to culture more democratic, in keeping with the municipality’s plan to support associations of this nature. It also aims to support ACTA in its mission of producing artistic theatre for the people of the Algarve and providing quality education for the young people who come into contact with this theatre company’s work.

The Companhia de Teatro do Algarve is a professional theatre company. It was founded on 9 February 1995 and, since 1998, has regularly published the theatre magazine ACTAs, which is designed to serve not only as a ‘programme’ for each artistic production, but also as a tool for artistic and aesthetic reflection, as well as a vehicle for news and educational material.

One of ACTA’s educational proposals is the VATe (Vamos apanhar o Teatro) project, which it presents in the bus now converted into a travelling theatre, bringing culture to young people in all the municipalities of the Algarve and raising their awareness about various current issues. The bus is regularly seen in São Brás de Alportel – most recently in April with the performance of the play ‘What does freedom smell like?’, which was included in the programme of São Brás’ celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Carnation Revolution.


ACTA has received regular support from the Directorate-General for the Arts since 1998. This support was interrupted in 2023, creating difficulties for the theatre group and threatening the continuation of its project and mission. The troupe itself is based at the Lethes Theatre in Faro.

The company has not, however, been sitting around with its arms folded and, for the years 2024 and 2025, has produced a programme of recognised quality both for the general public and in the field of educational services. This programme was recently the subject of analysis by the town council, earning it a grant of 19,000 euros from the municipality of São Brás de Alportel.

‘Suplicantes’, ‘Experiência’, ‘A que cheira a Liberdade?’, ‘Diálogo do Penitente e do Arrependido’, ‘As Cartas Ridículas do Senhor Fernando e os Suspiros Líricos da Menina Ofélia’ are some of the plays that ACTA will be performing in São Brás de Alportel until 2025. I am excited. Brush up on your Portuguese and come and join us.


Uwe Heitkamp (64)

trained TV journalist, book author and hobby botanist, father of two grown-up children, knows Portugal for 30 years, founder of ECO123. Translations: Dina Adão, John Elliot, , Patrícia Lara
Photos: Acta

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