Ciné Triomphe and Rex Théâtre
Ciné Triomphe on Champ de Mars, Port-au-Prince
Photo: Franck Fontain
Champ de Mars is home to Haiti’s two major theaters. Read about their history, the destructive effects of the 2010 earthquake, and how you can visit them today.
Take a closer look
Opened in the 1930s, Rex Théâtre has seen Haiti’s culture shift and evolve and adapt to modern times. In the past, it housed many of Haiti’s literary figures as well as French poet André Breton. When the theater was still standing, the dance school Joëlle Donatien Belot would hold its yearly musical there. Parents and students rushed through the antique-lit corridors, ballet tights moved between dress pants and shiny shoes, and impatient audiences filled the foyer. The Rex was where modern movies were first shown in Haiti, and crowds could indulge in American snacks like hot dogs and popcorn.
During the 2010 earthquake, the Rex theater was almost entirely destroyed, and only the bare bones are left standing. If you visit the Champs de Mars, you’ll find it boarded up with colourful sheet metal and street art, waiting to be brought back to life.
The Ciné Triomphe fared better than the Rex Theatre. A competitor of the Rex in the mid century as a popular destination for film-lovers, the Triomphe actually closed down in the 1980s and sat empty. Three decades later, in 2015, the Triomphe reopened after arduous renovations, filling the gap created by the tragic - but hopefully temporary - loss of the Rex. The Triomphe now sports a sleek modern façade, with lettering in a bold red typeface. The Ministry of Culture has been in talks with the Bank of the Republic of Haiti to further improve the new venue.
Under the eaves of the Triomphe theatre, a long strip of artisans sell their arts and crafts: paintings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, wooden bowls, metalwork, and more. Interspersed between these artisans street food merchants sell hot food, usually rice and beans, by the Styrofoam box. For an authentic treat, and relief from the Caribbean heat, find a Fresko or snow-cone merchant.
The Ciné Triomphe and Rex Théâtre are located on Champs de Mars.
Rex Théâtre on Champ de Mars, Port-au-Prince
Photo: Franck Fontain
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