Our overseas member, Lisbon Players, are once again under threat of losing their theatre premises. Estrela Hall is part of large plot of land and buildings owned by the British Government in the heart of Lisbon. Lisbon Players have been in occupation for 70 years, and have made the place their own, providing English-speaking theatre for the British community in Lisbon originally, and more recently for a growing public of English speakers of many origins, not least the Portuguese themselves. They now attract aspiring professionals as well as amateurs with the work they do, and have become an invaluable cultural asset for the city.
For the last decade the British Government has been trying to sell off the site including the Estrela Hall. There have been proceedings under Portuguese law to protect the rights of the Players. However, it looks as though things have now come to a head, as a provisional contract for the sale of the whole site including the hall has now been signed with private developers. Negotiations are taking place with the local authorities to try to save the hall, and an open meeting was called on 10th March to rally support. “We had a fantastic Press Conference with an overflowing house and amazing testimonies from some very famous people who started their careers at our theatre and lots of Press coverage on TV news and in the papers. Let’s hope things are going to turn out for the best. After nearly 70 uninterrupted years and at a time of high, very high, artistic activity and record audiences it does seem rather ironic that the British Government think we are superfluous to requirement” reports Jonathan Weightman. The worry of course is that big money and international finance will win the day – at least as far as this hallowed venue is concerned.
Follow link to the Lisbon Players Petition