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OPSIS     Portuguese Theatre Iconographic Database

OPSIS is a project of the Centre for Theatre Studies (CET) of the Faculty of Letters of the University of Lisbon, with funding support of the FCT-Science and Technology Foundation (PTDC/EAT/69595/2006). At the beginning of the 1990’s, image started to rise in importance and to conquer a new status in theatre studies. By that time, Theatrical Iconography defined itself as a field of studies, crossing theatre studies and art history, under the patronage of distinguished art historians such as Cesare Molinari, Ines Aliverti, Robert Erenstein or Martine de Rougemont.

When CET was created, in 1994, Osório Mateus conceived a research programme with the goal of collecting images with interest for the history of theatre in Portugal. In 2006, the conditions for its implementation were finally created, following the approval of a three years funding.

Since then, the OPSIS project has assembled and studied images related to the theatre produced in Portugal, integrating them in a database. In this database, they are described in individual files and accompanied by information relevant to make the history of the theatre produced in Portugal. When electing images as the privileged instrument to access the study of the theatre history, the OPSIS database intends to promote the dialogue between them as an interpretative strategy. Thus, it aims to be a space of living analysis, generating knowledge, within different levels of interrogation, promoting the network collaboration work which guides research nowadays.

The OPSIS database makes accessible a documental collection still not studied, bringing theatre studies in Portugal closer to art history, architecture and photography. It identifies and offers to the researchers, images in digital format, held by different public and private entities, with which CET has established partnerships, most of them accessible online only from now on. OPSIS does not, in any case, replace the entities to which the images belong. Its only purpose is to create references and study them. The use of the images made public through the OPSIS database is subject to authorization by the named entities, inscribed in each file.

The collected images are organized in ten different groups:

  • Theatre Venues (Images of theatre buildings adapted or built from the ground)
  • Portrait (Portraits of actors as characters or citizens)
  • Performance (Images of theatre performances)
  • Set design (Drawings of set and stage properties)
  • Costumes and costume design (Images of costumes drawings and properties)
  • Production (Images of rehearsals and backstage)
  • Memorabilia (Images of posters, playbills, tickets and other promotional material)
  • Theatre edition and illustration (Images of magazines, books, newspapers)
  • Theatre and its social impact (Images of theatre life in a social context)
  • Festivals and civic events (Images of public events with theatrical interest)

Scientific coordination: Maria João Brilhante

Researchers: Daniel Rosa, Filipe Figueiredo, João Nuno Sales Machado, Maria Helena Serôdio, Maria Virgílio Lopes, Paula Magalhães, Vera Leitão