Six surprising facts about Bogota’s Ibero-American Theater Festival

Ibero-american theater festival, colombian art, colombian theater, colombian artist

Photo: Viviana Calderon 



Colombia’s capital is well-known for its appreciation of the arts and that includes theater, known in Colombia as tablas or […]

Colombia’s capital is well-known for its appreciation of the arts and that includes theater, known in Colombia as tablas or ‘woods’ thanks to the wooden stages on which actors perform. Every two years the Ibero-American Theater Festival is held in Bogota and, as the capital eagerly awaits opening night on March 11, we offer you six surprising facts about this international extravaganza:

It’s the world’s biggest theater festival

Bogota’s Ibero-American Theater Festival is enormous, with 855 productions across more than 100 venues and spaces. It’s no wonder the festival has earned Bogota the nickname ‘World Capital of Theater’ within the industry. Actors and artists travel to the Colombian capital from every continent, with more than 100 international companies performing alongside 170 Colombian ones. This year’s special guest country is Mexico.

It was founded by an adopted Colombian

Actress and businesswoman Fanny Mikey founded the festival in 1988, alongside Teatro Mayor director Ramiro Osorio. Fanny was born in Buenos Aires in 1930 but moved to Colombia in 1958, after fleeing home at 16 because her family did not support her dreams. She fell in love with Cali first, before moving to Bogota where she also created the National Theater Foundation. Fanny, with her brightly-colored hair, was known as La Reina de las Tablas (Queen of the Boards) and died in Cali in August 2008.

It celebrates Bogota’s birthday

Fanny and Ramiro founded the festival in 1988 to celebrate 450 years since Bogota was founded. The idea was to promote theater’s diversity and the global performing arts scene, as well as ensuring tolerance and understanding between cultures and encouraging artistic development in Colombia. The festival has been held every two years since it was founded and celebrates its 15th installment this year.

It has faith in Colombia

The festival has had a slogan since its first edition. The first one, which attracted performers from more than 20 countries was ‘An act of faith in Colombia’ followed by ‘Ten years of faith in Colombia’ in 1998, when 37 countries participated. One of the most popular slogans was ‘In honor of Fanny Mikey’ two years after the actress’s death. This year’s festival slogan will be ‘The opening should be on the street’ to emphasize the importance of free theater for all.

It’s all art

The Ibero-American Theater Festival promotes every artistic discipline imaginable, including street theater, traditional theater, music concerts, ballet and other dance, storytelling, children’s theater, youth theater, art, cabaret, pantomime and circus, alongside lectures, workshops, conferences and trade shows.

Bogota is its ideal home

Colombia’s capital is the perfect place to host this festival. Not only are its citizens fond of the fine arts, the city itself is home to some 2,200 theater academies. This year 3,650 artists will appear on the capital’s stages with performances in venues including theaters, universities, parks, sports centers and shopping malls. The festival’s performances are expected to reach an audience of around three million people.

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