Mission & History
Betweent 2008 and 2018, Teatro Maria Matos was oriented towards contemporary creation, hosting hosts and coproducing theatre and dance performances, concerts, and children and youths projects. As far as programming goes, Teatro Maria Matos stood as a driving force and active partner for contemporary creation in Lisbon and in Portugal; it collaborated with independent artists and companies, coproduced several festivals (among which FIMFA, Alkantara Festival, Almada Festival and Temps d’images), commissioned thematic events, and shared programming cycles with other institutions such as the the Theatre/Music cycle with Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Collaboration and partnership were essential in Teatro Maria Matos’ programming.
Teatro Maria Matos actively promoted exchange and collaboration at an international level, thus inscribing national creation in a European and global context. Teatro Maria Matos’ international orientation translated into the regular presentation of foreign artists, the international coproductions and the internationalisation of Portuguese creation.
In the spirit of public service, inherent to its status as a municipal theatre, Teatro Maria Matos could be described as a place where artists and audience meet in order to reflect upon the world we live in. In this sense, the Theatre’s programming regularly focused on political, social and ecological issues, through multidisciplinary programmes involving lectures, debates, films, performances, installations and interventions in the public space.
Teatro Maria Matos was founding member and coordinator of the House on Fire network in 2011, which brought together ten European theatres and festivals around a project aiming at reinventing social and politically active theatre, and was part of the Create to Connect European network, which strived to broaden and intensify the relationship between artists and audience, and part of the Imagine2020 network, which sought to bring awareness on climate change. It was also a founding member of the network 5 Sentidos [5 senses] that promotes programming and coproducing at a national level.
The Maria Matos Theatre is one of EGEAC’s venues. The Theatre was built between 1963 and 1969 according to a design by Architect Barros da Fonseca, in a very daring architectural complex for the time, which consists of a building with fifteen floors of different heights, including a Hotel, a Theatre and a Cinema.
The Maria Matos Theatre opened its doors on 22 October 1969, under the artistic direction of Igrejas Caeiro. During the 70s and early 80s, various companies passed across its stage, namely the RDP Theatre Company under the Artistic Direction of Artur Ramos, and the Repertório – Portuguese Theatre Cooperative, under the Artistic Direction of Armando Cortez.
In 1982, the theatre was acquired by Lisbon Municipal Council, ceasing to have a resident company and welcoming independent projects and theatre, dance and music companies. In 2003, the management of the Maria Matos company passed to the municipal company EGEAC – Empresa de Gestão de Equipamentos e Animação Cultural.
Given its state of deterioration, in August 2004 a radical remodelling of this cultural space was begun, giving it a new identity and providing it with professional conditions for presenting shows. The Maria Matos Municipal Theatre reopened on 27 March 2006, now a sophisticated and welcoming space which, as well as the main hall with a capacity of 447 seats, has a café and a rehearsal room.
With Diogo Infante as artistic director, after its reopening the theatre consolidated itself as one of the main events halls in the city of Lisbon, investing in a line-up of its own theatrical productions, with productions such as Laramie, Pillowman, Doubt, Hamlet or Cabaret, and co-productions of various performing arts and cinema festivals in Lisbon.
From October 2008 to 2018, the artistic direction was been in the hands of Mark Deputter, which similarly marked a change in the nature of the theatre, leading it towards contemporary performance, investing in new domestic creative talent and international productions in the areas of theatre, dance and music. The Maria Matos Theatre seeked to be a dynamising focal point for contemporary creativity, placing domestic output in an international context and creating networks of collaboration and exchange. Taking the classical idea of the theatre as a place for discussion and thought on questions of the polis, the Maria Matos Theatre also invested in its Educational Project and in the organisation of conferences, debates and seminars on topical subjects.