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News > Culture

Colombia: Bogota’s Ibero-American Theater Festival Turns 30 Amid Controversy

  • A play by the Mask Lab at this year's festival.

    A play by the Mask Lab at this year's festival. | Photo: @FITBogota

Published 16 March 2018

Despite international recognition, the Festival faces criticism from National theater companies and Colombia’s Actors Association.

More than 40 plays from 14 countries, including 18 national plays, will be put on stage in the XVI edition of the Ibero-American Theater Festival in Bogota, one of the most famous theater festivals in Latin America and one of the largest festivals of its kind in the world.

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Actors, dramatists, and technicians from across the Americas along with the compatriots from countries like Australia and Spain will participate in this 2-week festival, which starts on Friday in Bogota.

Some of the standout performances expected to be featured at the festival include; The Fabulous World of by Aunt Betty, an Argentine play that shows the collective unconscious of a society built on lies, cruelty and death and Pixel Mountain from Australia. Audiences will also have the chance to see an interactive play that recreates daily life with 3D images; and from Colombia, the host country and Black/Anger a dance that portrays the life of Nina Simone.   

Despite international recognition, the Festival has faced some criticism, especially from actors and actresses from Colombia’s Actors Association, who refuse to participate in this year's edition of the festival claiming it favors international productions. Diana Angel, the association’s president, said: “we can’t be part of a biased process that rejects national productions.”

Their discomfort with the Festival and its organizers is also due to problems with timely payments and the fact the organizers are indebted to several Colombian theater companies. “I was paid 300,000 pesos (a little over US$100) for a play that filled the theater in 2016,” Angel complained.

Julio Correal, a member of the actor’s association, told Colombian magazine Arcadia: “they don’t understand the function of the festival, which is much more than presenting plays to a passive audience. We believe it is about consolidating a cultural project for the city.”

Colombian actors and actresses, however, remain optimistic. They are organizing a National Theater Congress with the help of Colombia’s Culture Ministry to “decide what alternatives there are to save an event that turned its back on us.”

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