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Mapa Teatro

Heidi and Rolf Abderhalden
© Maik Schuck

The Colombian theatrical collective Mapa Teatro around the Swiss-Colombian siblings Heidi and Rolf Abderhalden has been unique in its form since its founding in 1984. The “experimental laboratory” includes visual and music and video performing artists, who can be seen in its innovative plays at theatre festivals worldwide. In its social documentary projects, the collective devotes itself to regional as well as global issues and, using radical and multimedia means, investigates the interweaving of politics, society, festive culture, violence and revolution in Colombian society. 

Thus, Mapa Teatro makes an important contribution not only to contemporary Colombian theatre, but also to the country’s reconciliation processes. Since the collective’s foundation, their plays have always reflected the situation of Colombia and the continent. In Testigo de las Ruinas (2005) they deal with the evacuation and dissolution of a neighbourhood. In Los Incontados (2014), they look at different parties to the civil war and their use of violence. Even their venues – above all the republican building that houses the collective and which was saved from certain decay by their moving into it in the 1980s – testify to this. From the point of view of the collective, over 50 years of armed conflict in the country and the resulting violence, displacement and unresolved questions of guilt require constant exploration. Mapa Teatro does this with bold and new formats.

Playwright Deniz Utlu highlighted the courage of the siblings Heidi and Rolf Abderhalden to repeatedly take a strong position, saying, “In the face of irresolvable contradictions, Heidi and Rolf Abderhalden not only repeatedly dared to conduct the experiment with their collective, but made it an essential part of their work. This excluded any clear answers. But they didn’t use that as an excuse to not take a position. On the contrary, the questions they ask are always the search for a position in the face of irresolvable contradictions. For their work, which originates from a cosmopolitan spirit and in which the transcendence of boundaries becomes method, for the precision of their local view, which also shakes our centrism here on the other side of the Atlantic, they are being honoured today with the Goethe Medal.”