The Antic Teatre turns 10

Ten years of avant-garde stage projects at the Antic Teatre, going against all things ordinary

On 23 April, 2013, the Antic Teatre celebrated ten years of exploration and presentation of advanced dramatic arts - some would call them alternative, but really they're the same thing. The celebration included open events and the eagerly anticipated release of a self-edited and fan-funded book detailing the stories of the obstacles and people involved in Barcelona's punk scene, led by the most rebellious of them all: Semolina Tomik, a well-known personality from Yugoslavia who moved from the scene to the office without losing even a shred of her creative fighting spirit.

The book, 10 anys de l'Antic Teatre' ('10 Years of the Antic Teatre'), also includes contributions from more than 17 artists and entities connected to the space, like Quim Tarrida, Nico Baixas, Marcel·lí Antúnez, Sergi Faüstino and Txalo Toloza, who are among the writers of the more than 2,000 shows that have been performed in the little auditorium. All profits from these shows help fund the theatre itself, and every year it attracts more than 10,000 spectators. It's clear that the Antic Teatre is still needed as a place for bold innovation, just as it was ten years ago.

But this 17th-century Neoclassical palace near the Palau de la Música was already linked to the avant-garde scene long before 2003. In 1879 the Cercle Barcelonès de Sant Josep, patron saint of the workers, was created. Since its beginning it promoted intense theatre activity as demonstrated by the posters, brochures and photographs saved in the archive. And maybe that's where the working-class emphasis (albeit in a very different social setting) of the Antic Teatre came from: the working people's belief in the arts that can move heavy machines and open the minds of their powerful patrons.

During the '70s and '80s, the Pierrot cabaret passed through the Antic Teatre with its perverse, shocking theatre, and the Agrupación Ciclista Independente (Independent Cyclist Association) and the Coordinadora de Colectivos de Liberación Gay (Coordinating Committee of the Gay Liberation Collective) were created. In the '90s, the activity of these associations declined drastically, and it wasn't until 2003 that a group of artists rediscovered the theatre while looking for a place to rehearse. Roger Bernat, Juan Navarro and Santiago Maravillas organised part of a cycle of performances of 'Bona Gent', and some volunteers set about cleaning and restoring the space. In the following year, Semolina Tomik received the Sebastià Gasch FAD ('Foment de les Arts i del Disseny', or 'Fostering Art and Design') Award for the restoration of the space.

Today, the Antic Teatre is a model of the avant-garde scene in the city, is part of international networks and also has a community project for residents of the Ribera neighbourhood. And, most importantly, it guards the majestic centenarian fig tree in the best courtyard of Barcelona's city centre. It's been the silent observer of all of these changes, keeping the struggling cultural scene in the city alive.

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