FITB: Theatre on the international stage

By Thomas Stewart-Walvin March 17, 2018
Scotch and Soda, FITB

Australian cabaret act ‘Scotch and Soda’ mixes the fun of the circus with the zaniness of a parallel dimension.

The city’s biennial theatre bonanza is upon us and with so much to see we whisk you through the whirlwind of drama that is set to envelop the capital.

From Australia to Slovenia, FITB will have acts from all corners of the globe.

The myriad of foreign theatre companies descending on Bogotá to take part in FITB promise to push you to the edge of what you believe possible, and possibly to the edge of your seat too.

Mexico is bringing a couple of showstoppers this year: La desobediencia de marte and Enemigo del pueblo. The first presents one of the stranger relationships in science, that between aristocratic astronomer Tycho Brahe, and arrogant, hypochondriac, destitute Johannes Kepler. Together, these visionary men developed the laws of planetary motion that informed Newton’s theory of gravity, in spite of the fact they did not get on.

Enemigo del pueblo, focuses its action on a small town, complete with small town mentalities and prejudices. Questions of corruption, ethics and press responsibility come in when the opening of a new spa brings increased wealth but also heightens the levels of gossip and mistrust.

There’s a carnival edge to cabaret act Scotch and Soda from Australia’s Company 2. Describing itself as “channelling the vibe of a rowdy whiskey joint set in a dusty parallel universe, somewhere between depression-era travelling circuses and Europe’s 19th Century carnival past”, this fast-paced act will make sure that you come to doubt your own eyes. Musicians invade the stage, acrobats take up instruments; everything is transitional. Madcap, mental and misleading, Scotch and Soda is definitely one to see.

Another English-language production is Golem, the UK’s contribution to the proceedings. Far in the future, the market economy has grown past all control and technology has developed to match it. No home would be complete without a ‘golem’ – an artificial servant based on the ancient Jewish myth – and the plot follows an “exaggeratedly ordinary” man’s decidedly odd relationship with his. Bitingly funny and with a satirical view of society, this play is one to make you consider the future of humanity. The critically-acclaimed set design and technical effects of this production resemble “an animated graphic novel”, pushing the audience’s perspectives out from the mundane and into what The Times has described as “a Frankenstein for the 21st century.”

Equally monstrous, is Slovenian production Our Violence and Your Violence, which depicts the brutal situation and hopelessness of refugees fleeing to Europe. Director Oliver Frljić asks his audience: what makes a European? What reason do the privileged have to “protect” their way of life? The weaponisation of borders and security forces as tools of nationalism and xenophobia call into question the very reasons why we think of humans as groups of “nations” or “races” at all.

Related: The best of Colombia in theatre

Also worth watching out for are tributes to two great artists from previous editions of the festival who died in 2016. Described as a “luminous hymn to life” and dedicated to Swiss director Julie Finzi Pasca, Per Te will transform the bare stage into a garden and fill it with acrobats dressed in medieval armour. In memory of Slovenian Tomaž Pandur, Symphony of Sorrowful Songs is a ballet performance that explores time, loss and beauty.

FITB runs until April 1 and has several shows throughout the city, find our recommendations here, or the full program here.