Located in the town of Arecibo on the northern shoreline of Puerto Rico, the Teatro Oliver (Oliver Theater) is dedicated to the development of culture in the region, by means of shows, events and workshops designed to both educate and entertain members of the local community and surrounding areas. The theater also aims to reach out to the rest of Puerto Rico as well as the international theater community in order to promote the theater and local talent to a wider field.
In addition to being the cultural center of the Arecibo region, the Oliver Theater has great historical value. The building itself was originally built in 1876, but had to be reconstructed following the devastating earthquake of 1918. In its rich and diverse history the theater has hosted major dance groups, theater productions, and even some sporting events, being the venue for the first indoor basketball game in Puerto Rico. In 1937 the theater began to be used to screen movies in addition to other events. With the development of Cinemascope, in 1955 a big screen was installed in the Oliver Theater, but this prevented the venue from being used for any other purpose.
It was in October 1983 that the Rotary Club of Arecibo took the decision to initiate the restoration of the Teatro Oliver to its original purpose, that of being the theatrical and cultural center of the region. In June 1984 a group of like-minded citizens formed a corporation to buy the theater, with the transfer of ownership taking place later that same month for the amount of $350,000. It took a further 18 years and substantial funds to reach the goal of transforming the Oliver Theater into the world-class cultural venue it is today.
Pursuing the goal of promoting theater to the younger generation, the Oliver Theater holds summer camps on a regular basis. In a series of workshops, participants go through the process of learning about the multi-faceted task of staging a play. The subjects covered include preparing and editing a script, directing, acting, and technical production including lighting, sound, wardrobe and makeup. Workshops even cover the principles of marketing and promoting the theatrical production to the public. Organizers believe that being actively involved in theater brings many rewards, including the ability to think critically and objectively, develop interpersonal relationships, and gaining a sense of accomplishment from seeing a production on stage that is providing entertainment for appreciative audiences.