Costa Rica is an exemplary country in terms of its standard of living and public safety, and it has served as a rare example since 1948 when it decided to permanently abolish its army. The wonderful natural scenery and the high value placed on humanitarianism in this Central American country have greatly influenced its vibrant cultural heritage. Costa Rica’s theatre tradition is noteworthy.
During colonial times, priests performed religious plays as a part of their efforts to evangelize. After the country earned its independence in 1821, theatre companies began arriving to its shores from Spain, Italy and France, which carved out a relatively active theatre scene, particularly in the capital city. San José’s first major theatre, the Teatro Municipal, was built in the second half of the 19th century. It was destroyed by an earthquake however in 1888.
More theatres were built, such as the Teatro Variedades, which continues offering performances to this day, and the Teatro Nacional de Costa Rica, the hub of Costa Rican theatre activity.Today, this country of less than 5 million people has 24 theatres in the capital alone and over a dozen more spread across the country.
These nearly 40 theatres offer performances that range from Shakespearian works to political and social critique (according to Reporters Without Borders, Costa Rica enjoys more freedom of press than any other Latin American country), light hearted comedies and classic contemporary theatre.
Costa Rica’s theatre tradition is an exciting cultural phenomenon; the inspired creativity and bold performances represented on stages throughout the country have earned worthy applause and a strong following of admiring fans.