Theatre Festival Bogotá attracts more than three million visitors

April 2010 -

In 1988, in celebration of the 450th anniversary of the founding of the Colombian capital Bogotá, the Argentine, Fanny Mikey, launched the Ibero-American Theatre Festival. As of that moment, Mikey was the face of the internationally recognized festival, one of the largest such festivals in the world. Her death in 2008 shocked Colombia. Many people feared that this would spell the end of the festival. Thus, following in Mikey’s footsteps was no easy task for her successor, Ana Marta de Pizarro. Still, the 2010 festival attracted more visitors than the 2008 festival. More than three million visitors attended the festival this year, which featured 1318 performances throughout the whole city – in theatres, parks and in the streets – all in a period of two weeks. Groups from 43 countries participated.


Scene from 'Metamorfose'

The festival's high points included performances of Metamorphosis (based on Franz Kafka's novella Die Verwandlung) by Vesturport Theatre and Lyric Hammersmith from Iceland, Krapp's Last Tape by the well-known American director, Bob Wilson, performed by the Italian company Change Performing Arts and Baraka, based on the play Cloaca by Dutch author Maria Goos, which was presented by the Argentine group Paseo La Plaza. The Dutch group Close Act presented the piece Pi-Leau, about the forbidden love between a fisherman and a Sirene in a park in the poor southern section of the city. The performance was such a huge success, the actors had to be escorted out of the area because of the mass of spectators who wanted their signatures.

According to critics, the Ibero-American Theatre Festival is too folksy. "Too much carnaval, circus, salsa and rock," according to the newspaper El Espectador. Patricia Ariza, a producer who was awarded the Prince Claus Prize a few years ago, launched a 'counter-festival', to give 'real theatre' a venue. Just like Fanny Mikey, her ultimate objective is to bring theatre to the people. A discontented Ariza was quoted as follows in El Espectador: "The theatre didn’t spring into being with Fanny Mikey. We were here already."