portada de BMM

Santiago Fondevila

The odyssey of the "Institut del Teatre" (Theatre Institute) around the city during the past 88 years concluded in October last year with the inauguration of its future permanent headquaters : a brand-new building erected in the Montjuïc area, next to plaça Margarida Xirgu and within the physical framework of the future "Ciutat del Teatre" (Theatre City), which will allow the geographical gathering and functional integration of three important theatre infrastructures : the "Mercat de les Flors", currently a municipal theatre; the "Institut del Teatre" and the new "Teatre Lliure", located in the recently remodelled building that was formerly known as "Palau de l'Agricultura" during the 1929 International Exhibition and the inauguration of which is planned for next September.
Thus, the "Institut del Teatre" enters the twenty-first century with one of the most important and well equiped infrastructures in the whole of Europe, a place which can only be compared with some North-American Universities. (...)
The new building, designed by architects Ramon Sanabria and Javier Comerón, is a structure with eleven storeys - four of which are underground - that occupies a total of nearly twenty thousand square metres and is intended to house the four schools attached to the centre (the "Escola Superior d'Art Dramatic" (Dramatic Art College), which occupies some 6.078 square metres; the "Conservatori Professional de Dansa" (Professional Dancers' Training College), with 3.129 square metres; the "Escola Superior de les Tècniques de les Arts de l'Espectacle" (College of Performing Arts Techniques), and the "Escola de Secundària i Dansa" (Secondary School for Dancers in Training), along with the "Centre de Documentació" (Documentation Centre) and the new "Museu de les Arts de l'Espectacle" (Museum of Performing Arts) - stretching over 2.678 square metres -, two theatres - 1.859 square metres -, a bar-restaurant, a set for staging and shooting video films, a small auditorium, an underground parking space with an eighty-five car capacity, and offices for all the necessary administrative services. (...)
The forty-odd classrooms have been designed and equiped so as to accomodate and meet the specific requirements of the different schools and the diverse subjects to be taught. Most classrooms measure twelve metre square, they are soundproof and some of them are specially equipped so as to be turned into actual rehearsal spaces; specific requirements such as those of the scenography and puppetry workshops have also been taken into account. However, pedagogically speaking, an increase in available square metres does not necessarily imply an increase in the number of students. "It would be quite irresponsible" - the current director, Pau Monterde, states - "to train a number of professionals than would exceed existing market demand". Eventual further enrolments will concern highly specific studies such as audio-visual communication, classes in interpretation for opera singers, courses for candidates for a doctor's degree - which are already part of the school curriculum -, and other special training courses for professionals.
Where theatre facilities are concerned, the "Sala Ovidi Montllor", the name of which vindicates the agreement reached by the "Institut del Teatre" and the "Mercat de les Flors" with regard to the site occupied by the former, will be used jointly and alternately by both institutions. It will be a theatre open to the public, within the framework of the municipal programme of theatrical events, as well as a space used for pedagogical purposes according to the proposals put forward by students and graduates. The place has a 325 seat capacity and its outstanding features are the almost vertical layout of the rows which provides excellent visibility from every seat, and its stage designed in the Italian style. The "Sala Estudi", with its 100-150 spectator capacity, is a multivalent space which can be adapted to set up a central staging space and which, like its larger counterpart, is technically equipped to be turned into a television set. Both theatres went through their baptism of fire with the diverse performances organized for the "Festival Internacional de Teatre Visual i de Titelles" (Puppet Shows and Visual Theatre Inter-national Festival) which took place in November last year.
The new building that houses the "Institut del Teatre" can also be considered the culmination of a process aimed at achieving widespread recognition and at dignifying those studies and professions which had for a long time been seen as marginal - even though they were at times the object of admiration and envy -, and remained apart from the mainstream of "good" citizens as they were still considered bad company by those who aspired to integration into a productive, useful and well-to-do society. So, this new infrastructure is quite in keeping with the recent change in attitudes fostered by the television and cinema boom and the re-acquaintance of the public with the theatre.