Europe, Portugal, Porto
Art discipline: Theater
Participated in ICAF in: 2014, 2017, 2020

A’Pele [Portuguese for ‘skin’] is one of Portugal’s leading community theatre companies. It was founded in 2007 with the intention to question the theatre as a privileged space. Instead, it uses this art form to generate dialogue and collective creations that involve the city’s popular and marginalised communities. A’Pele is home to Porto’s Theatre of the Deaf, works in prisons with techniques inspired by Augusto Boal, and applies popular theatre forms to work with a variety of citizens in and around Porto. Portugal has developed a distinct community theatre style of its own: large-scale, outdoor, neighbourhood-based productions with colourful mass scenes involving anywhere between 50 and 100 residents.

Hugo Cruz is the artistic director of A’Pele and of the biennial community theatre festival MEXE, which will be held again in September 2021. He trained as a psychologist and theatre maker in Portugal and Spain. He is one of Portugal’s most experienced community theatre practitioners, working in prisons, factories, neighbourhoods and other settings. In addition to his work for A’Pele, he also publishes and teaches at the University of Porto and in the post-graduate community theatre programme of the Porto Theatre Academy.