Suppose you love theater and want to learn acting. However, you need to work on the day and can’t study at a university where all courses are at night, or perhaps you don’t want to devote exclusively to the acting profession, 30 years ago there wasn’t an institution that could fulfill these specific needs in Costa Rica, that’s why the birth of the National Workshop Theater (TNT in Spanish) was so important, an institution under the management of the Ministry of Culture and Youth (MCJ in Spanish).
The teacher Oscar Fessler (1912-1996) was the first director of the institution. Currently, the management of the TNT is in the hands of Melvin Mendez, actor and playwright with a recognized career in Costa Rica, as well as professor of the institution.
One of the most important aspects of the institution is its methodology, which considers teamwork essential and promotes a positive attitude in students. The simple fact of being admitted in the institution, entitles to a scholarship from the Ministry of Culture, therefore students don’t need to pay for their training. This benefit is paid back with community improvement projects. Annually, advocacy work and workshops are performed at schools, prisons and community groups. Within this framework, there is also a workshop for police officers, which gives them theater tools to learn how to deliver different messages to the boys and girls thwith which they work at schools.
Guido Sáenz, the Minister of Culture at the time the workshop was created, remembers that, due to the big success that the youth program created in 1972 had, he considered that there should be a place where people were formed in theater, without the need for it to be a college career. Thanks to the Catania family he learned about the existence of the master Oscar Fessler, who lived in Argentina.
Thanks to Saenz, the teacher came to Costa Rica in order to create the new institution.. In fact, the theater institution now bears his name. Saenz remembers him as “a man of theater, deep, wise, kind and very knowledgeable.”
Since its creation, TNT has had six directors: Oscar Fessler (1977 to 1980), Gladys Catania (1980 to 1997), Luis Fernando Gómez (1997-2002), Eugenia Chaverri (2002-2004), Arnoldo Ramos (2004-2006 ) and Melvin Mendez, since 2007.
The profile of those studying at the National Theater Workshop is mixed. There are many people coming from other theater schools, with interest to specialize even more. Furthermore, most people work during the day and attend the TNT from 5 to 10 pm. Part of the students are professionals in other areas, which are not only interested in pursuing theater. From the TNT creation until today, the institution has graduated around 400 people.
Besides the formation time that each generation receives, the institution also offers the workshops mentioned above, as well as workshops for the application of theatrical techniques in educational, social and recreational programs. For graduates and professionals in the theatrical field, training spaces are also planned with Costa Rican and foreign teachers.
Another benefit is the space from the Escalante Theater, which has the support from the Spanish Cultural Center. Through it four plays are created each year at the Oscar Fessler Theater.
Address: From the Santa Teresita Church in Barrio Escalante 200mts North and 25 east, OR from El Farolito 75mts west, on 13th Avenue, between 25th and 31st streets, district: Carmen, canton: San José, province: San José, Costa Rica. Zone postal code: 10101.
GPS Coordinates: 9.937419,-84.065608 (9°56’14.71″N, 84°3’56.19″W)