Exploring the annual beauty pageant in Bogotá's national women's prison.

The World Premiere of Another Word For Beauty was produced by Goodman Theatre.
By José Rivera
Music by Héctor Buitrago
Directed by Steve Cosson

January 16 - February 21, 2016

Each year the female inmates at a Bogotá, Colombia prison compete in a beauty pageant intended by their jailers to motivate and rehabilitate them. While the pageant's parade of glamorous gowns, exotic headdresses and rhythmic dances provide a distraction from daily suffering, its real impact on each woman is more than skin deep. Taking inspiration from interviews conducted with the contestants and other inmates, José Rivera's play is a haunting and soulful examination of women trapped within a prison's walls and the possibility of transcendence even in the most dire of circumstances.

Another Word For Beauty was originally commissioned and developed by Goodman Theatre and The Civilians.

INVESTIGATION: Another Word For Beauty began with a month-long investigation at El Buen Pastor women's prison in Bogotá, which included theater and writing workshops for the inmates led by Rivera and the creative team.

The information discovered through the research phase for the play helped to create an intimate understanding of the pageant's impact on both the prison system and the inmates. The pageant is a recent innovation and is indicative of a shift in public policy that increases support of rehabilitation for the incarcerated. The reasons for the contestants' imprisonment - which range from drug trafficking to murder - inspires examination of larger social and political issues in Colombia, including poverty and the decades-old violent conflict amongst paramilitary, government, and guerrilla political groups. It is our hope that the stories collected in the interview process will illuminate authentic voices that provide models of hope for those on the difficult path towards healing and transformation.


Written by:
José Rivera

Music and lyrics by:
Héctor Buitrago

Directed by:
Steve Cosson

Stephanie Andrea Barron
Helen Cespedes
Monique Gabriela Curnen
Dan Domingues
Danaya Esperanza
Zoe Sophia Garcia
Marisol Miranda
Yun Pardo
Socorro Santiago
Heather Velazquez
Carmen Zilles

Ruben Gonzalez
Javier Saume Mazzei
Mike Przygoda
Diego Salcedo

Scenic Design: Andrew Boyce
Costume Design: Emily Rebholz
Lighting Design: Robert Wierzel
Sound Design: Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen
Music Director: Mike Przygoda
Projection Design: Mike Tutaj
Choreography: Maija Garcia
Production Stage Manager: Briana J. Fahey

José Rivera’s plays have been produced across the nation and even translated into several languages, including: The House of Ramon Iglesias, Cloud Tectonics, The Street of the Sun, Sonnets for an Old Century, Sueño, Giants Have Us in Their Books, References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot and Adoration of the Old Woman. In 2003, Cloud Tectonics was presented in the XLII Festival of Puerto Rican Theater, an event sponsored by the Puerto Rican Institute of Culture, in San Juan. Rivera helped found the Los Angeles-based theater company, The Wilton Project. Rivera has won two Obie Awards for playwriting, a Kennedy Center Fund for New American plays Grant, a Fulbright Arts Fellowship in playwriting, the Whiting Writers' Award, a McKnight Fellowship, the 2005 Norman Lear Writing Award, a 2005 Impact Award and a Berilla Kerr Playwriting Award. His screenplay for The Motorcycle Diaries received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Héctor Buitrago is the co-member of the multiple Grammy winning Colombian Latin alternative band Aterciopelados. Buitrago came from a hardcore rock background, heading up a group called La Pestilencia. "When I was young I listened to bugaloo by Richie Ray and later stuff like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Yes," said Héctor. "The first time I bought a bass guitar, I'd never had one in my hands before. I began to write songs by ear." Aterciopelados is one of the first rock bands of Colombia and is among the country's top groups. Their music fuses rock with a variety of Colombian and Latin American musical traditions to create a unique organic rock sound. Additionally, Buitrago's work with the band engages audiences all over the world with socially conscious messages. Honored by the United Nations for their work denouncing violence in Colombia, Aterciopelados speaks out about myriad issues including political injustice, women's rights, and environmental destruction.


The World Premiere of Another Word For Beauty was produced by Goodman Theatre.

January 16 - February 21, 2016
170 N. Dearborn Street
Chicago, IL 60601

New York Stage and Film in the Martel Theater, Vogelstein Center for Drama and Film
July 15, 2016 - 17, 2016
Click here to learn more and purchase tickets.




  • Lawndale News: Otro Término para la Belleza
  • WBEZ 91.5: The Goodman Gives Us 'Another Word For Beauty' world-premiere play at Goodman
  • Daily Herald: Prison pageant in Colombia inspires world-premiere play at Goodman
  • Chicago Sun-Times: A Prison Pageant That Seeks 'Another Word For Beauty'
  • Theatermania: José Rivera and Steve Cosson Go Inside Colombia's Unlikeliest Beauty Pageant
  • Billboard: Héctor Buitrago Scores Prison Beauty Pageant Play Another Word for Beauty
  • Broadway World: Photo Flash: Goodman Theatre's Upcoming Premiere Another Word For Beauty
  • Chicago Sun-Times: Goodman Theatre Revving Up For Latino Theatre Celebration
  • El Tiempo: About The Project
  • El Espectador: Interview with José Rivera

Video Features

  • CBS Chicago: Rock Star Brings Sounds Of Colombia To Goodman Theatre
  • Vivelo HOY: Danaya Esperanza sobre Another Word for Beauty
  • Vivelo HOY: Another Word for Beauty: Yunuén Pardo

Goodman Theatre Announcements

2012 Project Launch

Check out the podcast episodes of the 2012 LET ME ASCERTAIN YOU performance: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3. And we hope you'll subscribe for free on iTunes HERE!

See photos from a past pageant on Flickr!

Click HERE for blog posts about the project!