Quotes: MENA   Enter Symbol: NewsLetter: Search: advanced

Spanish theatre a crumbling symbol of Tangiers' rich past  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - AFP - 02/02/2014
No. of Ratings : 0
Add to Mixx!



(MENAFN - AFP) A century after it was built, the Cervantes theatre in Tangiers, once a symbol of the famed Moroccan city's cultural vibrancy, is derelict and risks disappearing altogether, eclipsed by flashy new developments.The 1,400-seat playhouse, just a short distance from the old port, is a masterpiece of early 20th-century Spanish architecture in the once-international city that in its heyday hosted a wealth of colourful characters and communities.But today the blue and yellow plasterwork and magnificent frescoes on the ceiling are crumbling, the dust-covered seats unoccupied since 1974, the year the curtains fell for the last time."You have to imagine how Tangiers was at the time. A census in 1919 registered a population of 40,000, including 26,000 Muslims, 5,000 Jews and 6-7,000 Spaniards," says Bernabe Lopez Garcia.Last month, the Spanish historian organised an exhibition to celebrate the theatre's centenary.But it was also a plea for help in restoring this cultural treasure, now more of a wreck at the end of a sidestreet, near to but also a world away from the new luxury marina being built on the city's Mediterranean seafront.

"It's like a theatre of shadows.... You make me come back, but I do so reluctantly, because each time I feel bad," says Rachid Taferssiti, president of Al Boughaz, an association dedicated to preserving the city's heritage."I find it sad that a multicultural space like this is allowed to fall into such a state."The building was commissioned in 1911 by a rich Spanish merchant, Manuel Pena, who dedicated it to his wife Esperanza Orellana, a passionate theatre-goer.Inaugurated in 1913, its history charted the Spanish presence in Tangiers, a city clearly visible from and sharing a tangled history with Spain.During World War II, the city was occupied by Spain from 1940 until 1945. Spanish forces in the city disliked the building's modernist appearance, and planned "to convert it into an imperial theatre in the neo-classical fascist style", says Lopez Garcia."Fortunately they didn't have the money."

The theatre's activity peaked in the 1950s, when the Spanish community grew to around 30,000.But the city on the crossroads between Europe and Africa, the Atlantic and Mediterranean has long captivated the imagination of foreigners and attracted a diverse mix of visitors.It was something of a Mecca for French painters in the 19th century, while a number of celebrated US writers settled in Tangiers after its designation as an international zone in 1923, notably Paul Bowles and William Boroughs.Artists who performed at the playhouse include legendary Italian tenor Enrico Caruso and Spanish-born opera star Adelina Patti, as well as Flamenco troupes and Arabic ensembles."The theatre group Al Hilal, composed of local Moroccan actors, played Othello in 1929," says Rachid Taferssiti, whose own father performed in various plays.Since it closed, the Gran Teatro Cervantes has been loaned to Morocco for a symbolic dirham per year (0.12, nine euro cents), while remaining Spanish state property, with the neighbouring countries unable to agree on a renovation plan."I think the Spanish government would like nothing better than to be able to restore it. But with the current crisis, it's impossible for them to address the issue," says Cecilia Fernandez Suzor, the director of Tangiers' Cervantes Institute, a Spanish cultural body.She admits the building is in a "pitiful state", adding: "If you want to redo it as it was in 1913, show us your millions!"On top of the cost itself, estimated at four million to five million euros, the theatre's location in a neglected corner of the city remains another obstacle."But you often find examples of a restored cultural site leading to the transformation of the area around it," Fernandez Suzor says optimistically. She suggests the theatre could also serve as a training centre for stage-related professions."We have our role to play, but the solution lies with the Spanish and Moroccan governments," says Taferssiti, pointing to the huge changes in the form of government-funded projects taking place outside Tangiers.Indeed, the authorities rarely waste an opportunity to publicise the planned economic transformation of Morocco's second industrial city, driven by a vast industrial development programme launched in September and expected to cost 1 billion.

 


AFP




  MENA News Headlines
 Sep 1 2015 - Saudi- Short circuit caused Aramco fire 3 Canadians among deadArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) ALKHOBAR: A short circuit involving a transformer in the basement of the residential complex of Saudi Aramco resulted in the fire on Sunday according to a preliminary probe. The ...

 Sep 1 2015 - Saudi- Why top women won't contest civic electionsArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) JEDDAH: A number of prominent Saudi women have cited several reasons for not running as candidates in the upcoming municipal elections. Some of them are an alleged lack of ...

 Sep 1 2015 - Car Bomb Hits Libya's TripoliQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) A car bomb exploded in the Thahra area of central Libyan capital Tripoli on Monday.One person was injured in the blast and a number of cars parked nearby were damaged. ...

 Sep 1 2015 - The Syrian conundrumArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) This is with reference to the article 'Ousting Assad must to defeat Daesh' (Aug. 31) by Hassan Barari. Saudi Arabia has been calling for the removal of Bashar Assad since the ...

 Sep 1 2015 - Israeli Naval Forces Fire on Gaza FishermenQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) Israeli naval forces opened fire on Palestinian fishing boat off the coast of Gaza City on Tuesday morning. The fishermen came under fire as they were sailing off the ...

 Sep 1 2015 - Saudi- Power politicsArab News
(MENAFN - Arab News) I read with interest the article 'Justice done to death' (Aug. 31) by Neil Berry. I have started to believe that laws are meant only to rein in the masses worldwide. People like ...

 Sep 1 2015 - Qatar- QTA Awarded Best Arab Government Tourism AuthorityQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) Qatar Tourism Authority (QTA) Monday announced receiving the award of "Best Arab tourist governmental body" for 2015, and granted by the Arab Center for Media tourism, ...

 Sep 1 2015 - Tortured alive or poisoned to death: The suffering of stray dogs in EgyptDaily News Egypt
(MENAFN - Daily News Egypt) They were born believing the streets are their home. No matter how unsafe home is, they don't have anywhere else to go to, it's where they belong. Even if that means ...

 Sep 1 2015 - Egypt- The witches and wizards of the Patient Support Team: A new approach for charity eventsDaily News Egypt
(MENAFN - Daily News Egypt) If you are a Harry Potter fan living in Egypt, you will almost certainly have heard about the Harry Potter Experience organised by the Patient Support Team (PST). Last ...

 Sep 1 2015 - The industrialisation of reconciliation: Iran, Saudi Arabia and ISDaily News Egypt
(MENAFN - Daily News Egypt) came across a curious news item the other day on Reuters about an industrial development project in Saudi Arabia, and it rang a few bells. The plan is to build a "new ...

more...


 






Google

Click to Apply

 
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

MENAFN News Market Data Countries Tools Section  
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network
Arabic MENAFN

Main News
News By Industry
News By Country

Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

Commodoties

Oil & Energy

Currencies Cross Rates
Currencies Updates
Currency Converter

USA Stocks
Arab Stocks
 

Algeria 
Bahrain 
Egypt 
Iraq
Jordan 
Kuwait 
Lebanon
Morocco 
Oman 
Palestine
Qatar 
Saudi Arabia 
Syria
Tunisia 
UAE 
Yemen

Weather
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary


Financial Calculators

RSS Feeds [XML]

Corporate Monitor

Events

Real Estate
Submit Your Property

Arab Research
Buy a Research

Press Releases
Submit your PR

Join Newsletters


 
© 2014 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help