Church of Our Lady of the Light was remodeled into the Sala Teatro José Joaquín Palma by Walter Betancourt. Located in the older part of the town of Bayamo at Carlos Manuel de Céspedes and Perch Figueredo y Loro, the church was one of the few colonial buildings that survived the burning of the city in 1869.
* The original 17th-century building was a single-nave church sitting on this huge piazza. Although there have been alterations over the years the exterior appearance has remained unchanged.
* * *Betancourt used the remains of the interior for a project to install a stage, wings, dressing rooms, a small kitchen, box office, technical areas, rehearsal spaces and projection room and a meeting room.
While I was unable to get inside I have learned that a large original arch was used to separate the stage from the stalls and a simple coffered ceiling was preserved. Betancourt blended the existing parts of the old building to enhance their appearance. A lateral courtyard was turned into a rehearsal space. Pebbles, ceramic pieces and tiles were used as a modern interpretation of the old courtyards. There is new woodwork, stanchions and lattice-work on the galleries and balconies, that serve to embellish the old building. I had the opportunity to speak with a dancer that had performed in the building and he said the way the building flows is just brilliant.