There is little activity to speak of when it comes to theater in Colombia during the Spanish colonial period, except there have been Native American ceremonies and ritual dances to carry on legends and traditions. One is known for a theatrical performance from the colony of New Granada in 1580 and in the 18th century, traveling Spanish companies presented so-called zarzuelas which consisted of songs and dances. In the mid-1800s, Colombia had a national theater company led by Romualdo Díaz. The Writers’ Association of 1911 also initiated a certain theater operation, and eventually the theater company Benavente came to tour all over the country under the leadership of Arturo Acevedo Vallanino.
Simón Bolívar led the South American independence struggle against Spain, which led to the demolition and establishment of Gran Colombia in 1819. A decade later, the federation fell apart, and today’s states in northern South America began to take shape.
In 1950, an experimental theater company was formed at the Bogotá Academy of the Arts, and Chief Minister Rojas Pinilla invited Japanese-born Stanislavsky-trained actor Seki Sano of Mexico to train directors and actors for the new television industry.
Dramatics and directors such as Enrique Buenaventura and Santiago García sprang from this initiative. El Buho (Ugla) was an experimental group that included set up Brecht in 1958, and eventually a student theater movement developed which organized its first festival in 1968. The university theater festival gained international importance, but had to stop after five years because of it. the political situation. However, it reopened in 1984.
Another festival with strong social involvement was started in 1974, and in this environment Buenaventura was a leading director. Eventually, a large number of theater groups emerged inspired among others. of New York’s La Mama Theater, such as the Teatro Libre de Bogotá and El Local. Ellen Stewart established La Mama in Bogotá in 1968. In this way, the group theater became the mainstay of the theater business in Bogotá. Regional theater initiatives have also emerged, such as in Medellín and the coastal areas.