This past weekend I ventured out twice, on Friday and Saturday night, to see the festival of one-acts plays produced by Lisbon Players. Staged in lovely Estrela Hall, a small venue with an almost clandestine look and feel, the English-language performances included One for the Road (1984), a play about the use of torture by Harold Pinter (1984); A Time for Farewells (2003), a moving piece on the nature of love and relationships by a young British playwright Damian Trasler; and The Proposal (1889), a hilarious play by Anton Chekhov.
What made these two evenings special for me is the history of the Lisbon Players. Now in its 60th year, this alternative theater space is run and staffed by people who stage English-language plays for the pure love of art. Nobody gets paid for their hard work, the entrance is free (donations warmly encouraged though!), and the atmosphere warm and friendly. You can really feel the dedication of the directors, actors and everyone else involved. Now, the Lisbon Players is in danger of being shut down. The British Government, as trustees for the site on which the theater stands, wants to sell the site for development. The building is in need of essential modifications to bring it up to the required standards for public performance. Of course, putting up the money for renovations makes no sense without any assurance of the future. So, the Lisbon Players are fighting to stay alive. They’re asking for your support of their work through attending their plays, donations, legal advice, or publicity.
If you’re reading this far from Lisbon, you can still help by signing an online petition. It only takes a second. The disturbing thing is – so many alternative art spaces around the world are in similar danger. Why has it become such a challenge for people with real passions to remain devoted to their art without constant struggle?