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Home > Interests & Activities > Art & History > Theaters
In Puerto Rico, you can enjoy a performance of an elegant, formal and dignified troupe of Danza performers, local productions of uniquely Puerto Rican as well as world-renowned theater, or the most popular Broadway shows.
The performing arts are an important and much-loved part of Puerto Rico’s cultural offerings, and one of the richest and most diverse artistic traditions in the Caribbean.
This tradition is found not only in world-class centers of art and culture in San Juan and Ponce, but also at intimate venues around the island. Many municipalities have local theaters, and quite a few are historic buildings that have kept alive the performing arts for generations in their communities. In fact, the crown jewel of our performing arts heritage – Teatro Tapia – also happens to boast the oldest freestanding drama stage under U.S. jurisdiction.
In addition, our curtains have been raised for some of the world’s most admired icons, including Plácido Domingo, Yo-Yo Ma, Anna Pavlova and Puerto Rico’s venerated master, Pablo Casals.
A visit to Teatro Tapia is more than a night out at a theater; it’s a tribute to the history of performing arts in Puerto Rico. This classic icon, located on Fortaleza Street in Old San Juan, is the oldest freestanding theater stage building still in use in the United States. The horseshoe-shaped theater was built in 1824 and seats about 700 people. It is the artistic soul of Puerto Rico.
The Tapia Today
Today, the iconic theater hosts ballets, concerts, operas, plays and other cultural events. Tickets can be purchased online at Ticket Center PR.
Aspiring theater buffs will want to check out the frequent workshops and classes at the Tapia Theater, which range from classes on the Meisner technique to how to act for film and TV.
Alejandro Tapia y Rivera
The Tapia Theater is named after Alejandro Tapia y Rivera, arguably the most important playwright of the 19th century in Puerto Rico, and a trailblazer who helped establish the modern artistic movement on the island.
Luis A. Ferré Centro de Bellas Artes
Our largest and most modern performing arts venue, the Luis A. Ferré Centro de Bellas Artes is the stage upon which the grandest productions are unveiled. The Center has helped make the San Juan neighborhood of Santurce a nexus for all the performing arts in Puerto Rico.
Fine works of art adorn and surround the center, but one of the most dramatic and striking is a series of bronze sculptures by artist Annex Burgos depicting the seven muses.
The Center is the focal point for Puerto Rico’s most important annual performing arts festival. Named in honor of maestro Pablo Casals, the Casals Festival has attracted some of the world’s most acclaimed artists for a three-week paean to classical music.
Long known as a blue-collar, bohemian neighborhood, Santurce has become the cultural heartbeat of San Juan, with world-class museums, the Teatro Francisco Arriví and the Luis A. Ferré Center attracting art-lovers from around the world. It helps that this neighborhood also boasts some of the best Puerto Rican restaurants in the city!
Teatro La Perla
The city of Ponce has a well-earned reputation for its elegance, cultural importance and quiet dignity. Teatro La Perla (“Pearl Theater”) captures its artistic heart. The first theater in Ponce was built in 1846; the neoclassical white-columned structure you see today dates to 1862. Today, it is the premier venue for operas, plays, concerts and other events.
Art and History
Teatro La Perla has played an integral role in Ponce’s history, serving as an important place of assembly throughout its history; in 1887, Román Baldorioty de Castro founded the Partido Autonomista Puertorriqueño (Puerto Rican Autonomist Party) here.
Built for the Big Stage
La Perla is among the largest theaters in the Caribbean, and one of its most historic. It can seat just over 1,000 people, and its acoustics are so good that microphones aren’t necessary.
The theater hosts the annual Festival Teatral Luis Torres Nadal in February. It’s a great chance to catch local companies perform on the stage.
Teatro Francisco Arriví
This art-deco institution was built in 1939 and was a Santurce icon for much of the era. In the 1960s it became a showcase for Mexican and South American cinema. Today, it’s home to a variety of shows, from international productions to musical concerts to puppet theaters.
Francisco Arriví is one of the most influential figures in Puerto Rican theater in the 20th century. A writer, poet and playwright, the Santurce native has been called "The Father of Modern Puerto Rican Theater."
Located on Ponce de León Avenue near F. D. Roosevelt Avenue, the theater commands a central location in Santurce, and was one of the architects of its early status as a culturally hip neighborhood.
Dinner and a show
This might not be Broadway, but you can easily combine a dinner and a show with a visit to the outstanding restaurants at the nearby Plaza del Mercado after a visit to the Arriví.