Teatro Metaphora is a non-profit association founded in 2009 in Câmara de Lobos, a municipality in the south-central coast of the island of Madeira. The organisation, born as a small theatre group, currently provides cultural activities to support the community’s development and education. Over the years the scope of the organisation has extended into activities aimed to raise awareness of positive environmental practices, equality and sustainability and to increase civic engagement.
Teatro Metaphora is self-managed, and all their activities are based on volunteer’s work, which has increased with the involvement in the European Erasmus+ program.
So far, over 200 foreign volunteers and many local volunteers have been involved in their domestic and international projects, camps, training courses, conferences, seminars, consultations, lectures and other educational activities, based on non-formal education principles for kids, youth and adults. The idea is to develop social and personal competencies among the participants.
In many of their projects, the organisation draws public attention to the subject of sustainability by re-using trash to create artistic objects and installations, with the help of young people from all over the world.
For instance, Teatro Metaphora conducted successful street-art projects using trash material such as old cans and parts of washing machines, to emphasise the topic of recycling while appealing to the sensitive treatment of the environment. They provide young people with the possibility to participate in training courses, exchanges and voluntary work, encouraging them to civic participation by running diverse civic engagement activities.
José Antonio Barros, the founder and leader of Teatro Metaphora explains: “we started as a small group of people interested in theatre and in the first years we were focused on producing theatre performances, but it was hard to continue without our own permanent space, once the early enthusiasm of some of us faded away”. However, the initial focus of the association is still present through performances based on The theatre of the Oppressed.
Thanks to a deal with the local municipality, Teatro Metaphora currently has the permission to use the premises of the former city library, free of charge. Soon this space will not be available anymore, but the public administration of Câmara de Lobos is considering to provide them with other premises. It is significant that, even if their activities often underline controversial issues, the municipality seems to value and therefore support the project recognising it as a tourist attraction for the town. However, the objectives of Teatro Metaphora are much broader than increasing tourism.
Teatro Metaphora’s team of volunteers cooperates not only with the municipality but also with the local community, that helped them to realise some of their projects. The citizens, for instance, participated in collecting hundreds of used cans for one of the association’s most famous street-art project: “Yes, Less Can!”. This installation seeks to address the issue of recycling and the responsible use of resources through images that are created using the material of old tins. This artwork is now decorating the exterior of the building where Teatro Metaphora is currently based as well as the rest of the street.