Patricia Ariza accepts the 2014 Gilder/Coigney Award

Patricia Ariza accepts the 2014 Gilder/Coigney Award

Patricia Ariza is a “Flag of alternative culture in Colombia.”

Ms. Ariza is a legendary producer, director, actress, playwright and poet who has worked on the front lines for justice and social change in Colombia, South America for 50 years. A feminist, social reformer and political activist, Ariza― with excellence, drive and humility―builds bridges that connect theatre and society, theatre and politics, theatre and gender, on a daily basis.

The important thing is not me, but what I do with the women’s movement and social movement in Colombia. I am confident that the theater serves to achieve peace.”

Born to a peasant family in 1946, she moved to Bogotá when her parents were forced into exile. At the heart of her purpose is the strong belief in the transformational power of theatre, leading her in 1966 to co-found the experimental el Teatro La Candelaria. Since then her work has been inextricably linked with the political and social currents of her time.

For the past 26 years, she has focused on women artists and the social movement, producing vast works and massive performances that bring together professional artists and victims – particularly women – of the long-existing armed conflicts in Colombia. The Corporacion Colombiana de Teatro, a not-for-profit organization she manages, creates performances and events with widows and children from the most violent regions of the country: abused women who have left their homes, young people living on the streets, and other displaced by war and social upheaval. These women tell their life stories and play an active role in each performance. The company also organizes the biannual Festival Alternativo de Teatro and the internationally acclaimed Festival de Mujeres en Escena (“Women on Stage Festival”) annually.