THE 15th edition of the Havana
Theater Festival, scheduled October 25-November 3,
is an event during which Cuban stages are opened to
a great variety of trends, proposals and dialogues.
Rafael Pérez Malo, vice president of
the National Performing Arts Council, announced
during a press conference that companies from 19
countries will participate - more information on
these groups in our next issue – and that the
festival will include a total of 76 events, among
them monologues, performance art, grand musicals,
classic plays, others by emerging playwrights, with
new technology and equipment complementing the
stagecraft, as well as outdoor presentations.
In Havana, visiting and Cuban
artists will perform in 21 venues, plazas and parks,
while international companies will additionally be
featured in some seven provincial theaters.
Pérez Malo announced a pre-opening
event, October 24, on the National Theater’s broad
entrance stairway, a 45-minute performance by the
Compañía D’Morón of Homer’s Iliad, their
second work using the clay technique debuted in
Troya - Una leyenda de barro.
Immediately thereafter, in the
National Theater’s Avellaneda Hall, the Evgueni
Vajtangov State Academic Theater will debut with
Anna Karenina, a performance of 2:20 hours with
intermission, staged as a musical based on the
A quick review of the schedule for
Cuban companies reveals ambitious artistic standards,
in a varied, attractive program, including all
tendencies within Cuban theater - drama, performance
art, dance, pantomime, shadow theater and a
significant representation of one-person shows.
Companies were chosen based on
prizes received for recent performances, including,
among others, the Villanueva critic’s award. It is
noteworthy that works by four National Theater Prize
winners are scheduled.
One of these, dramaturge José Milián
and his Pequeño Teatro de La Habana, will present
El Flaco y el Gordo, by Virgilo Piñera, with
Alejandro Rodríguez and Fabián Mora. "The class,
ontological and philosophical confrontations which,
in a hospital, imply wild dialogues between the
fortunate Gordo (Fat man) and the poor devil Flaco (Skinny),
can be appreciated in a staging in which the
director emphasizes Virgilian absurdity as a variant
of our identity."
The second National Prize winner
participating is José Fernández, director of Teatro
Papalote, with Se durmió en los laureles, a
show in which two clowns and puppeteers alternate in
an entertaining performance.
Also in this category is actor
Pancho García, who has renovated La Legionaria,
an old prostitute who recalls fragments of her life
during an interview. The excellent one-person show
based on the Fernando Quiñones novel of the same
name is directed by Susana Alonso.
The fourth National Prize winner,
distinguished director Nelson Dorr with his Cia
company, is revisiting William Shakespeare’s
Othello - a standard work of universal theater
which Dorr is presenting "with the conviction that
younger generations must know and be familiar with
indispensable, classic titles and writers, to be
able to appreciate the performing arts of all
Two of the most interesting
directors on Cuba’s scene, not to be missed during
the Festival, offered brief statements to Granma
International. The Teatro Público’s successful
director Carlos Díaz has become one of the most
"In the case of our Trianón Theater,
we are happy to be a teaching site for the Advanced
Institute of Art; their most recent graduating class
will open the Festival in our theater with The
Cherry Orchard, by Chekhov, a performance with
capable young actors who are going to make their
mark in Cuban theater.
"Then we will have a work which I
did on commission in Geneva with a Swiss company,
Apsara Theater, the piece No es tiempo de sirenas,
with two Spanish actresses, Silvia Barreiro and
Margarita Sánchez. It addresses the issue of
emigration, two Latinas who arrive in Geneva to star
in a cabaret and realize they had been brought to
work as prostitutes.
"We have Ana en el trópico, a
co-prodution with FUNDarte and Teatro El Público,
based on the writing of Nilo Cruz, winner of the
Pulitzer Prize. It is a strong cast, which is
developing a very good chemistry, bringing together
actors and actresses resident in Cuba and in the
United States: Fernando Hechevarría, Alexis Díaz de
Villegas, Lillian Rentería, Mabel Roch, Osvaldo
Doimeadiós, Clara González, Carlos Miguel Caballero
and Yanier Palmero.
"Antigonon, un contingente épico,
which is showing now, will be the closing piece. Now
with five characters, rather than the initial two."
The one hour, 20 minute piece with a script by
Rogelio Orizondo features the confluence of dance,
poetry and performance art."
Also speaking with GI was
director Carlos Celdrán, director of the Argos
Teatro, presenting Fíchenla si pueden, a
version of The Respectful Prostitute by Jean-Paul
Sartre, with actress Yuliet Cruz in the role of Lizi.
What attracts you to Sartre now?
"It is a work which has always
interested me because I saw it as having a great
deal of potential for dialogue about our problems. I
had put it off for years because there was a Cuban
version, very well-known by audiences. I found a
reflection of our reality in the script. It’s an
adaptation because there is some re-writing of the
original, some manipulation to place it within the
context which I want in order to reflect on
tolerance, on the actions of power. It is part of an
investigation I have been conducting these last few
years about space and the actor. Reduced spaces,
human hells. Strong, intense relations, in very
closed spaces. It is a work stripped of all artful
acting devices, and creates a closeness with the
audience, in a chamber theater."
And the Festival?
"It’s always mammoth, but this is
related to its essence, trying to admit all those
who can and want to come. Given the economic
dimension, it is very democratic. I believe, as well,
that it’s an act of generosity, that all those who
can come, and have the quality, may be admitted. It
is a very large Festival, but provides the
opportunity for dramatists and audiences to
encounter other visions."
Cuban performers will present dozens
of shows, too many to list, but to mention a few for
children: Alicia (En busca del conejo blanco)
by the Teatro de Las Estaciones
(Matanzas); Teatro Tuyo (Las Tunas),
using a clown presents Narices (2012
Villanueva Critics’ Prize) and Teatro La
Comarca (Camagüey) with Andando X la sombrita,
an entertaining work using shadow theater techniques.
For adults: Delantal todo sucio
de huevo and El baile, both from the
D´Dos company; Adiós y Welcome, Teatro del
Viento (Camagüey) and Rapsodia para el mulo,
by El Ciervo encantado.
Julio César Ramírez, the Festival’s
artistic director, emphasized that the encounter is
"a celebration, because theater must be nothing less
A unique celebration and event,
actors confronting spectators, the 15th Havana
Theater Festival is a time and opportunity to
appreciate and enjoy.