Buenaventura was born in Santiago de Cali , Colombia, on 19 February 1925 and died on 31 December 2003. Before dedicating himself fully to writing he worked in various other jobs (sailor, decorator and chef)which, like the Chilean dramaturg Juan Radrigán, gave him an insight to life outside the privileged literary and intellectual circles he would later come into contact with. For some years Buenaventura was the head of the Theatre School at the Institute of Fine Arts in Cali, before leaving to spend some time living abroad in other Latin American countries. When he returned to Cali after this period, he was intent on reinvigorating Colombian theatre with a new identity which would authentically represent everyday Colombian realities. Thus he founded TEC, el Teatro Experimental de Calí. Historia de una bala de plata (Story of a Silver Bullet), a collective creation of Buenaventura and the TEC won the Casa de las Américas prize in 1980. Buenaventura also wrote theoretically about theatre, and theatre and politics and is a considered to be a major figure as a practitioner and theoretician in this respect.
Buenaventura is concerned with history, testimony, collective memory and violence.
There is a ritualistic element to Buenaventura’s theatre which is coloured by the grotesque and a black, absurdist humour. His plays show a synthesising of two Colombian cultures (indigenous and colonial) and an exploration of hybridity. Buenaventura’s style is also informed by a wish to involve the audience in an active way, as well as by his innovative and collaborative way of working with actors’ improvisations through the methodology of creación colectiva (collective creation).
Buenaventura, Enrique. 1958. A la diestra de Dios Padre (To the Right Hand of Father God) (in Spanish)
Buenaventura, Enrique. 1963 La tragedia del Rey Chiristophe (The tradgedy of King Christophe)
Buenaventura, Enrique. 1968. Los papeles del infierno (Documents from Hell)
Buenaventura, Enrique. 1965. Historia de una bala de plata (Story of a Silver Bullet)
Buenaventura, Enrique. 1969. El convertible rojo (The Red Convertible)
De la Campa, Ramón. 1980. ‘The New Latin American Stage: An Interview with E. Buenaventura,’ Theater 12.1, 19–21
Luzuriaga, Gerardo and Robert S. Rudder, eds. and trans. 1974. The Orgy: Modern One-Act Plays from Latin America. Los Angeles, University of California, UCLA Latin American Center
Penny A. Wallace. 1975. ‘Enrique Buenaventura’s Los papeles del infierno’, Latin American Theatre Review, Fall, 45
Watson Espener, Maida. 1976. ‘Enrique Buenaventura’s Theory of the Committed Theatre,’ Latin American Theatre Review 9.2, 43-7
Weiss, Judith A, ed. 2004. Colombian Theatre in the Vortex: Seven Plays. Lewisburg. Bucknell University Press
Entry written by Gwendolen Mackeith. Last updated on 5 October 2010.