A library and an archive are like proofs of life, animated by a fiction: no document is ever the first, and neither can it ever be the last. A library and an archive on the performative arts (theatre, dance, music…) are proofs of life with an underlying paradox: they try to contain what is essentially an unrepeatable action. At the TNSJ, the creation of these memory containers has also been a statement of resistance to fatality: events like the fire of Real Theatro de São João (1908) and the refurbishment of what was by then already known as Teatro Nacional São João (1993-95) have destroyed or scattered 200 years of history.
The Documentation Centre was founded in 2000, to compensate for the ephemerality of the creative gesture and defy the effects of numerous documental curses. Thus began an ever-unfinished process of amassing and classifying all the documental materials created by the TNSJ, making them available both to people connected to the institution and to outsiders. Since 2001, the Documentation Centre has been maintaining a database, Cinfo – Centro de Informação, which lists all physical documents at the Documentation Centre, while acting also as an online library, since a large part of those documents is already available in digital format there. Besides that, the Centre has, from its inception, been organising a library specialised in the performative arts, the contents of which are now available to other stage professionals and to the general public. Installed in a room of the São Bento da Vitória Monastery, for which architect Nuno Lacerda Lopes designed a functional scenography, the TNSJ Documentation Centre opens in 2009 to a community of users who will desirably prove themselves able to set in motion a utopia of possibility: that no reader may ever be the first, or the last.
General access collections
Books: reference (dictionaries and encyclopaedias); books on theatre and dance written from historical, theoretical and critical standpoints; monographs on great names of theatre and dance; books on various theatrical subjects (stage direction, set design, production, etc.); historical and theoretical writings on drama as a literary form; plays from all over the world, in their original languages or translated into Portuguese, English and French; memoirs, autobiographies, interviews or notes from theatre creators; biographies of playwrights, stage directors, actors, etc.
Periodicals: Portuguese magazines, some still ongoing and others already extinct; we subscribe 19 French, English, American, Italian and Belgian magazines.
Videos: video recordings of theatre and dance; documentaries on theatre and dance; televised theatre; cinema adaptations of stage plays; dance films; films directed by stage directors and playwrights; operas directed by important stage directors.
CDs: radio plays.
Conditioned access collections
Photographic files: photographs of shows and events produced or hosted by the TNSJ.
Programs and promotional materials: programs and leaflets, posters, postcards, flyers, flyers , invitations, etc. (from shows and events produced or hosted by the TNSJ, and from the collections of other Portuguese and foreign companies and institutions).
Video recordings of shows
Press cuttings files: reviews, news pieces, and advertisements for each one of the shows and events produced or hosted by the TNSJ.
- Consultation in person
- Video viewings
- User support and guidance
- Access to the Cinfo database
- Reproduction of documents
- Internet Access
The Cinfo – Centro de Informação system is aimed at mediating between the various producers of information working inside a theatre and the information system that supports the theatre-related documents they produce. This system originally came to be to fulfil the need to store and file large amounts of bibliographic data, digital documents, photographs, promotional materials, press notices and cuttings, interviews and news pieces from radio and TV, audio and video recordings, programmes and all other documental and archival information into a single database.
The Cinfo’s structure takes into consideration not only the documental thoroughness demanded by the international norms it follows, but also the flexibility needed for its use in the various contexts in which it is expected to operate. It is geared to function both as a work instrument for the TNSJ’s contributors and as a way of sharing information with such outside elements as theatre scholars, teachers and students, authors or the general public.