English Theatre in Spain

Imagine traditional English pantomime playing to full houses in the middle of a lepar colony in Spain! Surprising, but it happened not once but four times so far in January of each year since 1997.

We started Careline Theatre to give expatriate Brits the chance to indulge their love of the theatre, and to generate funds for our parent charity, Careline/Com-Sanit. We were given access to a 50-year old, virtually unused theatre in the grounds of the Sanatorio San Francisco de Borja at Fontilles in the province of Alicante in Spain. The sanatorium is approaching its centenary and is recognized world-wide for its expertise in the treatment of leprosy. It is also home to more than 100 people afflicted by this disease.

We have completely renovated the theatre and totally re-equipped it so that, during 1999, we were able to present an Opera Gala and a professional Music Hall show from England, as well as our own productions.

All this has taken a great deal of time and effort, but we now have over 100 members and lots of enthusiasm. Our skill level has been enhanced by having among our members ex-professional theatre people. Perhaps a measure of our success is that the programme for our 2000 pantomime, "Aladdin & His Wonderful Lamp", caried 84 advertisements and ran to 76 pages with a four-colour cover. Amongst our audience was Sarah Brightman who, reportedly, described it as "the most professional 'amatuer' show I have ever seen".

We are a non profit making group and our funds beyond our working capital are donated to our charity and to Fontilles. 58% of the income of Fontilles comes from private donations with the balance being provided by the Valencian government.

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Graham

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