BUILDING A MASTERPIECE National Theater
The National Theater of Costa Rica is the country's principal theater, located in downtown San José next to Juan Mora Fernández Park. Its construction was authorized on May 28, 1890, when San José had just 20,000 inhabitants.
In the colonial period between 1577 and independence in 1821, there was very little artistic or theatrical activity in Costa Rica because of widespread poverty and the opposition of the Catholic Church. After 1821, plays had to be held outdoors or in private venues, with all-male casts. Most plays were religious in nature.
In 1837 the first Theater of San José was built in a hall with a straw roof and a capacity of 70 people, who had to bring their own chairs. In 1846 another theater was built, a wooden building with a tile roof with a capacity of 200. Its inaugural performance caused a scandal because one of the actors was a woman.
In the first decades of the 19th century, Costa Rica entered a promising economic period when it began exporting coffee, at first to Panama and then to Chile and Europe. A growing number of young people were educated in Europe, and the country began to open itself up to new ideas about the dramatic arts.
In 1847, plans were made to build a national theater financed by private stockholders, as the government lacked the money. In 1850, the Mora Theater (later Municipal Theater) was built and served for many years as Costa Rica's primary venue for the dramatic arts, but it deteriorated over the years and was finally destroyed by an earthquake in 1888.
Prestigious international touring groups
The National Theater, Costa Rica's most opulent structure, celebrated its 220th anniversary last year.
Construction of the National Theater.