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Antigones, The women’s tribunal

“… the poor body of Polynice, however they say that an edict from the City authorities was issued, prohibiting her body from being buried, and even people from crying…” Sophocles.


antígona-tribunal-de-mujeres portalescenaArmando Orozco Tovar


It’s not often coming to the theatre that you feel your heart in your mouth, as happened to me, watching the production of the play “Antigones, The women’s tribunal”, by the Colombiana theatre company in the auditorium of the Léon Tolstoi Cultural Institute in Bogotá.

But why be interested in this ancient tragedy? Because we must not forget that the Greek play shows a conflict between filial love and the law. Between conformism and rebellion.

It dramatizes the way that two equally valid forces come into collision: love and the state.

“… the poor body of Polynice, however they say that an edict from the City authorities was issued, prohibiting her body from being buried, and even people from crying…”, said Sophocles.

The scene begins with Antigone, played by the actress Lina Támara, accompanied by nine Colombian women actors.

They are appearing before an imaginary tribunal on behalf of their loved ones, denouncing the crimes, the disappearances, the ‘false positives’, the genocide against the Union Patriotica (UP), the left-wing political movement which suffered over 5,000 murders, and which was within a hair’s breadth of taking power through peaceful and democratic electoral means.

All the actresses in the play are appearing as an act of mourning for their murdered sons. Three are mothers from the village of Soacha, and two are survivors of the genocide of the UP, brought about by paramilitaries involved in drug-trafficking, businessmen, landowners, and the Colombian state.

One of them is a woantígona-tribunal-de-mujeres portalescena 3man student leader, a victim of a judicial frame-up and false imprisonment. Women human rights defenders, victims of the former Department of State Security; performers from the theatre, dance, musicians, singers, video actors, poets.

They place on the stage the shirts, the photos and the childhood toys of their kids, amid tears, laments and songs, turning the play into an irrefutable poetic witness. A charge that demands justice for their kidnapped relatives, who were taken far from their homes by the army, and made to look like guerrillas who had been killed in combat.

Among all the proofs of deaths at the hands of the state is a mother holding the photo of her 26-year old son, whose disability was no protection.

The backdrop is a white screen contrasting with the colour and the pain of the mothers and daughters turned actresses, showing images of the national tragedy, and the murdered popular leaders.

antigona youtube“Antigones, the Women’s Tribunal has been performed in many countries of Europe and the Americas. They were invited by women’s groups fighting against the crimes against women in the Mexican city of Ciudad Juárez.

They will also be appearing in Vancouver and Toronto in Canada. They are going to the Rutas Festival, and to arts and human rights meetings. They will be at the Theatre Festival in Cadiz, dedicated to the 50th anniversary of  La Candelaria Theatre, and to peace in Colombia.

(Photos by Portalescena and Youtube)

 (Translated by Graham Douglas – Email:

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