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Aperitivo - Stimulating the Appetite

Aperitivo is the performance group of the Friends of the Museum. Multi-cultural and multi-lingual, we like to please our audiences with interesting, innovative and often humourous mixes of theatre, song and words. We pride ourselves on our visual presentation and the wide-ranging talents of our members.

Created to provide extra interest at the Museum’s bi-monthly art exhibitions, the Aperitivo performance group has gone from a small acorn to an ambitious oak tree in a very short space of time. The first performance, at an exhibition entitled Colours, was a simple integration of English, Portuguese and Dutch poetry and song set amongst the art exhibits. The original concept was excellent, and still continues, but the group has rapidly outgrown these early limitations. Following the first performance several other people joined the group and a name was found – Aperitivo – a little something to stimulate the senses before the main course of the art exhibition itself.

After Magritte (Ralph Keenan as Policeman)


The group then set about a very ambitious production of Tom Stoppard’s After Magritte, appropriately to accompany an exhibition of Surrealist art. The extravagant costumes and complicated set contributed to a most successful outcome, very well-received by an enthusiastic audience. Looking back on this early effort, the leap of faith involved was tremendous, but it worked, and provided the platform and pattern for all that has happened subsequently.


Diane Cantillon Ings, Mary Legg and Ralph Keenan in Portuguese Tradition

After Magritte was a departure from the multi- national/lingual concept, but the group quickly reverted to this theme with the next production, linked to an exhibition called The Portuguese Tradition. Conscious of living in a multi-national society and wishing perhaps more than anything to celebrate that diversity, the group produced a play in four languages (Portuguese, English, German and Dutch) which gently poked fun at national characteristics, while emphasising our common motives for coming to live in Portugal.


Midsummer Night´s Dream with Constant van Scherpenseel and Jane PageA very busy period then saw the group taking part in a Shakespeare Day, organised by the Amigos do Museu. Aperitivo’s contribution was the Rustics play from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and a puppet version of Romeo and Juliet. The contribution of set building and costume-making skills to these and all the other productions has been a major factor in the success of the group.




Christmas 2007 saw the first of what is becoming a series of seasonal shows, with a wonderful story called The Dream Dragon, in which a small boy is recruited to save the phoenix from extinction by renewing its fire, travelling across the world in order to do so mounted on a dragon made out of his bedroom furniture. The second ‘episode’ in 2008 saw Jorge on another mission, this time invading the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party to try to rescue the Doormouse from captivity in a teapot.



In the meantime, Aperitivo had begun to break out of the art exhibition mould to present full performances in its own right. The first of these – still on an art exhibition theme - put together three separate items - a short extract from Equus by Peter Schaffer, a scene from Blood Sports and a multi-lingual version of ‘The Owl and the Pussy Cat’ - playing to a packed and lively audience. Work then immediately began on an Algarvian take on the traditional English Mummer’s Play, with a script borrowed from Cheshire, which was performed on the lawn in the Museum courtyard.


Following the 2008 Christmas production, it was decided to tackle another ambitious project, involving separate performances by the men and the women of the group. The chosen plays were Bouncers and Shakers by John Godber. These were played on a bare stage without props, and demanded a very high level of competence from the casts. The result was probably the most professional presentation so far, and the size of audience indicated that the reputation of the group is beginning to spread abroad.





In between these major productions, smaller presentations at art exhibition openings have continued, involving poetry readings, songs and orchestral quartet pieces.

Dido and Aeneas

In October 2009, Aperitivo, together with the chamber choir of the Amigos do Museu – Canticorum – presented the opera Dido and Aeneas, by Henry Purcell. The production involved mime and movement by the actors of Aperitivo, with the choir providing soloists and chorus. Instrumental accompaniment came from spinet and cello, played by Mary Legg and Walter Sulzer, maestro of the choir, whilst visiting soloist Francisco Brazão sang the part of Aeneas. Blending the two main elements of the production was a challenge, but the result was a colourful and sensitive interpretation of the tragic story. The production played to full houses at the Museum in São Brás for two nights, and was then taken ‘on the road’ to the Cine-Teatro in Silves and to a hotel near Almancil. This was by far the most ambitious presentation to date, marking a further advance for the group.

And for our next trick…….

Rehearsals have just begun (January 2010) for the summer production, to be staged on the 4th and 5th of June. Our resident writer and director, Jane Page, has produced a marriage of two operas which tell the same story two centuries apart. John Gay wrote the original Beggar’s Opera, which was taken up in the last century by Brecht and Weill in The Threepenny Opera. The Beggar’s Thruppence takes elements from both. On this occasion, the actors will also sing the songs. Following this, in the autumn of this year we shall take up Jane’s interpretation of A Christmas Carol, postponed from 2009 due to the pressure of work for Dido and Aeneas.

Want to be part of all this?

Aperitivo is always looking out for people to join the group in any capacity in which they have an interest, on stage or behind the scenes. Whatever your language or skill, we would be pleased to have you on board. We normally rehearse in the Museum (Old) Gallery in São Brás on Monday evenings between 19.00 and 21.00. Phone before coming to make sure we are operating on that day, then simply come along! We look forward to meeting you.

Who’s Who in Aperitivo

Diane Cantillon Ings
Diane is co-ordinator for the group, liaising with the Amigos do Museu. She is also one of our Directors, with a great deal of experience in the theatre.

Jane Page
Jane is the creative genius behind many of the productions to date. Her talents extend to all branches of the arts, and she has written a number of the plays as well as directing them.

Roger Legg
Roger is the craftsman behind the scenes as well as being an actor in many of the productions. He builds the sets and some of the more ‘architectural’ costumes and props, overcoming seemingly insoluble problems in the process.


Contact us
Diane Cantillon Ings - diane127ci@gmail.com 914 926 328
Jane Page - janemail.link@gmail.com 967 227 473


Click on the tabs below to view a selection of other Aperitivo photographs

Ralph Keenan & Gertrud Dürnholz in Mummers´Play

Mary Legg in A Midsummer Night´s Dream (Shakespeare Day)

The End of the World Is Nigh (Human Condition Art Exhibition)

Dido and Aeneas