Teatre Akadèmia is a project with the support of and funding from the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation – Delegation in Catalonia and its president, Elsa Peretti, since 2007, when it was under Mercè Managuerra’s leadership.
The aim of the project is to become:
A centre that produces and presents theatrical pieces devised with consistency, risk and an artisanal tempo, where the audience can find creations that deal with universal themes.
A driving force behind projects that complement our philosophy, with a view to providing a home for resident companies and generating mutually beneficial synergies. An environment that offers respect and support for the projects that accept the fragility of the creative process and aim to explore, discover and harmonise all the voices that make up the piece.
A space for training, research and creation for professional actors, supervised by teachers and artists who help them towards achieving excellence in the industry, where professionals can work towards their goals and perform their pieces or present research behind closed doors.
A meeting place and a space for reflection and debate, where interaction and contrasting opinions feed and strengthen the theatre’s programming and create stronger ties between people.
A catalyst for pilot studies in the field of social theatre and orality, dedicated to raising awareness of the performing arts and bringing children’s, young people’s and adults’ imagination closer to the discipline.
Teatre Akadèmia is a home for the community, rooted in and supported by its immediate environment, a theatre for the city and for the world, open to proposals from different languages and cultures, where children and adults can find poetry and imagination, and a hub for theatrical culture that interacts with and is reinforced by celebration, dignity, vigour and dynamism.
Her open personality and intolerance towards the conventions of her environment impacted her lively youth, in which she lived in many different cities. There are two that are especially important to her: Barcelona, where she began her career as a model, and New York, where she started what would become her main activity, design.
Elsa Peretti is internationally renowned for her jewellery creations for the brand Tiffany & Co., and has had links to Catalonia since the sixties, where she has developed a close bond with artists and writers of her generation.
For years now, through the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation, she has done outstanding work in sponsoring cultural, scientific, humanitarian, educational and human rights projects. This organisation now has a delegation in Catalonia (The Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation – Delegation in Catalonia), a fact that only underlines her love for our nation.
Her patronage work includes promoting the rehabilitation of the village of Sant Martí Vell, collaboration in the excavation of the Roman and Greek ruins at Sant Martí d’Empúries, the publication of a book on the life and works of Ramon Llull, the conservation of photograph archives at the MNAC and MACBA, the works of Manel Rovira and Robert Llimós, and, last but not least, the Teatre Akadèmia project.
‘Teatre Akadèmia is a real gem, in my eyes,’ explains Elsa. Opening a little theatre in Barcelona, turning it into a space where artists can express themselves freely, where they can feel like true craftspeople, is a dream for her.
Among other notable prizes won over the course of her professional career, in 2013, she won the most prestigious award in the field of Catalan Culture: the Premi Nacional de Cultura. Awarded by the Generalitat de Catalunya through the Consell Nacional de la Cultura i de les Arts (CoNCA).
Photograph: Carola Polakov
Having graduated with a degree in Hispanic and Romance Philology from the Universitat de Barcelona, she dove into the world of theatre and went on to develop a multi-faceted CV. Her commitment to the profession drove her to study a range of theatrical disciplines, from mime to text-based theatre, all the while conducting thorough research alongside the
greats in the field. The Fulbright Scholarship allowed her to study in New York for two years, where she worked with, among many others, Uta Hagen, and regularly attended the Actors Studio as a Guest Observer.
Over the course of 30 years at the Institut del Teatre, this actress, director, producer and teacher has collaborated with the pedagogy board at the Associació d’Actors i Directors Professionals de Catalunya and the promotional departments of the
Fundación Aisge and the Institut del Teatre itself.
Her belief in rigour and in-depth study, alongside her artistic career, has led her to enrich the nation’s outlook with constant exchange with international teaching figures and organisations. She has worked to bring international icons from the world of theatre to Barcelona to give teaching labs, including Anatoly Vasiliev, Thomas Richards and Kristyan Lupa. As an actress, she stays in contact with directors from various countries, especially those putting on repertoire pieces.
The Teatre Akadèmia project offers her the opportunity to express and expand her experience in the industry, with the theatre’s renovation and her direction until 2017.
Guido Torlonia, Artistic director
I am taking advantage of this current moment we are living in order to make a reflection about this new world health emergency which has suddenly forced us to lock us down and has thus interrupted all activities which are not considered primary.
Theatre, cinema, music and art in general are not in fact a necessity per se but they are indeed considered a medicine for the soul. Now, more than ever, people need a distraction. We all need some stimulation through fantasy and beauty in order to feed our minds. Claudio Abbado once said that if culture was a common good just the way water is, theatre and libraries would be the aqueducts.
As soon as the sanitary situation and the production and economy cycle get back to normal in the countries, thinking about the reopening of theatres, cinemas, venues for concerts, museums and so on will be essential.
The history of theatre is similar to that of the human being; as a matter of fact, if we talk about theatre, we cannot skip our own history, our interior world nor the force of imagination. Theatre is born out of a ritual, out of a religious ceremony. Back in the primitive civilisations, people attended the ritual of celebration as if it was a moment of social interaction. The representation of the myth was for the community a cultural aspect in which to be identified on. Theatre is therefore necessary for the individuals.
In the ancient times, the richest citizens of Athens competed to invest and to celebrate performances and shows. They all wanted to go to the theatre to learn, to reflect and to experiment major emotions. On this very same line, Giorgio Strehler and Paolo Grassi founded the Piccolo Theatre in 1947 after the Second World War with the intention to create a public service needed for the welfare of the citizens: ‘Art Theatre for Everyone’; the space in which a group of people listen to the word of acceptance or refusal.
This pandemic crisis has created a void, a total isolation: the most dramatic situation lived since the end of the Second World War.
Never before Jacques Copeau’s words have not acquired such a significance: ‘The theatre was not born in that space where life is full, it was not born and derived from satisfaction either. Theatre was born out of the wounds, out of this void…In this particular time and space in which somebody listens to something which is said by somebody else.’
Once the pain is over, the world of entertainment, singers, dancers, musicians, actors, writers have tried to fulfil this cultural void with ‘domestic’ activities; websites have turned into a stage to put on performances on. A rainstorm of videos, messages, chats, filmed either amateurishly or professionally, such as, the tribute the dancers of the Opera of Paris to pay homage to the healthcare workers or the execution of Canon of Palchebel in order to celebrate Easter and under the umbrella of the Orquesta della Scala from Milano.
This virtual cultural activity, which steps into the audience life through the screen of the cell phone, computer or tablet, has become a remedy for the survival of art. Shows are born out of a religious ritual of sacrifice and have always been considered to be sacred and mysterious. On the web, a show gets simplified and loses what is sacred, the message becomes random and loses its mystery. Theatre is a collective ritual in which a group of people chose to play ‘here’ and ‘now’. Without this closeness, we would not be talking about theatre but about an attempt of theatre reproduction. If we cannot get into touch with our live audience, we are not talking about a ritual.
Theatre actors, they all act live. They speak and interpret by nurturing from the audience’s breath. The audience cannot interact virtually since actors would not work the same way. Attendees follow a specific ritual to step into the theatre by putting on a particular clothing and by choosing some special make-up: there is whole preparation for a specific occasion. The virtual thing is just a palliative, a temporary remedy but it is certainly not a definitive cure.
Aristotle defined the human being as a ‘social animal’ in the sense that she or he is capable of gathering together and establishing a company. Never before the human being got isolated and lost this link with the others. Due to this unprecedented virus, we feel lost, we do not trust our relatives. This invisible friend turns everyone into a possible means for infection. It is not possible for us to distinguish the friend from the enemy: the enemy can be hosted by his friend. We have to re-create and to grow confidence once again towards the others. We have to find different ways to become a social animal once again.
Consequently, it is necessary and urgent to create these conditions of security so that people can feel comfortable to start to take part once again in the theatre ritual. Audience has to learn how it was once used and to find the desire to step out from home without fear of infection.
We hope our theatre will be able to open the doors soon enough and to rise the curtain so that it can recover its unique condition as a social gathering point among and for people.