Corporación Colombiana de Teatro
Founded nearly 50 years ago, Corporación Colombiana de Teatro is a non-profit organization dedicated to artistic, cultural, and social projects that promote theatre, peace, and human rights.
The organization was co-founded by a group of Colombian theatre professionals: Patricia Ariza, Santiago Garcia, Carlos José Reyes, Peggy Kielland and María Arango. Patricia Ariza is a Colombian playwright, actor, and poet who has participated in more than 100 productions of Teatro La Candelaria—of which she is also a co-founder. As a renowned dramatist, Ariza has received numerous international accolades, including the Prince Claus Award, the Gilder Coigney International Theatre Award, the Latin American Women’s Theatre Award, and many more. Santiago Garcia has also enjoyed a long and successful career as a Colombian actor and director. As another co-founder of Teatro La Candelaria, Garcia was an early supporter of the innovative “collective creation” approach to theatrical production, encouraging greater collaboration between actors and directors. In 2012, Garcia was named a Global Theatre Ambassador by UNESCO.
Under Ariza’s leadership, Corporación Colombiana de Teatro has organized countless festivals and performances from their base in Bogotá, Colombia. Their main programs include the Festival de Mujeres en Escena por la Paz (Festival of Women in Theatre for Peace), Festival de Teatro Alternativo (Alternative Theatre Festival), Escuela Taller de Mujeres (Women’s Workshop School), and the Cumbre Nacional de Arte y Cultura (National Summit of Arts and Culture). These initiatives use theatre as a medium to bring critical human rights issues to the forefront of social and political discussions, with a strong emphasis on women’s rights, cultural reparation, and peacebuilding.
As one of CCT’s most important programs, the annual Festival de Mujeres en Escena por la Paz (Festival of Women in Theater for Peace) has explored “peace from a woman’s perspective” for the past 30 years. This event allows women to—quite literally—take center stage in a dialogue exploring gender issues, feminism, using music, words, and dance to heal, connect with their bodies, and claim their stories/identities. In doing so, the festival provides a unique space for both entertainment and self-reflection. The 2018 festival had more than 12,000 attendees, and one of the most impressive productions during the festival was a theatre performance of the Diary of Anne Frank. Carried out by a cast of both Korean and Colombian actors under the direction of South Korean dramatist Ju Hye Ja, the performance captured the youthful sense of hope that runs through Frank’s words and her resilience in the face of devastating fascist violence.
Escuela Taller de Mujeres (Workshop School for Women) was founded in 2018 as an educational program that seeks to create a space for women of all ages and backgrounds to explore themes of culture, gender, peace, feminism, and civic engagement. Their first two performances premiered in November 2018 under the direction of Patricia Ariza. In Por Ellas Nos Rapamos (For Them We Shave), eleven women sat down to shave their heads in public in protest of the increasing numbers of women who are murdered in Colombia. Ariza calls the work a ritual of both “poetic sacrifice” and political action.
In one of their most recent performances on March 8, 2019, more than 50 women carried out a demonstration entitled Lideresas to commemorate International Women’s Day in Bogotá’s Plaza de Bolívar. Onlookers watched as women in white danced in the middle of the rainy square in a somber homage to female leaders who have been killed by gender-based violence.
Another powerful production took place during the Week of Theater and Human Rights in April 2019. A group from Corporación Colombiana de Teatro presented Antígonas, tribunal de mujeres, a moving performance that uses the myth of Antigone as a window through which actors can process and share their own histories of trauma. The cast included female survivors of the Unión Patriótica genocide, mothers of the men murdered by government soldiers in Soacha, and many more women who work to defend human rights.
In addition to survivors of violence, the group also welcomes ex-combatants. Luisa and Sara, two ex-guerrilla fighters from the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, have found strength and meaning in theater during a difficult period of reintegration into civilian life. Thanks to Corporación Colombiana de Teatro’s peacebuilding theater program, Encuentro de Arte y Paz por la Reconciliación, former fighters can learn how to work towards the betterment of their country through art.
Since 1994, CCT has also hosted their other major festival, Festival de Teatro Alternativo (Alternative Theatre Festival), every other year in Bogotá. The event incorporates both artistic performances and academic programming, inviting attendees to reflect on what they see and even hone their own skills through workshops. When they began the festival over two decades ago it was a very small affair, but it has grown since then into a thriving and vital celebration of theatrical creativity in Colombia.
Beyond their human rights-oriented festivals, Corporación Colombiana de Teatro is also one of 25 other social, academic, and cultural organizations that makes Colombia’s Cumbre Nacional de Arte y Cultura (National Summit of Art and Culture) possible. The event brings together artists and cultural practitioners of all disciplines for screenings, music, readings, and theatre performances, inviting visitors to appreciate the value of art in promoting cultural solidarity and understanding. The 2019 summit takes place this August.
Corporación Colombiana de Teatro is an artistic organization with a true commitment to defending human rights. By empowering women and survivors of violence to share their experiences through theatre, they provide a valuable platform that uplifts marginalized voices and promotes peace for all.
Emma Manos graduated from LIU Global in May 2019 with a B.A. in Global Studies and minor in Arts & Communications. As part of her university's unique approach to international education, Emma has spent the past four years learning, researching, and working in Central America, Europe, and East Asia. Her professional focus is on communications, journalism, and the intersection between the arts and human rights. She has been accepted to Central European University's MA in Critical Gender Studies, where she will begin her graduate studies in fall 2019.