Carlos Díaz: "Theater has to be Taken Care of, Although is Non-Profitable"

On celebrating on March 27th the world theater day we offer our readers this interview with the Cuban Carlos Díaz, director of El Publico Theater and National Prize for Theater.

Cuba has had great examples in this artistic expression. Which of the many ways of making people feel have you learned more as a creator?

"Each time has its unique artistic expression, its sweet side and its bitter ones. I officially appear in this world in the 90’s, when little theater was done. It was already the endless economic crisis and it reigned the concept how long will it last, but I believe I did the best of my career back then, like La niñita querida (The Dear Little Girl), a staging of Virgilio Piñera with which I won the admiration of many people.

"I thank that success and the later one to Roberto Blanco and his company Irrumpe. I had the chance to be his assistant after I graduated of Theater and Drama at ISA. I did everything there: costume design, scenography; to make rehearsal plans and production… I Learned what should be done and what not. I am very grateful because they gave me the training to dive into theater."

You have been one of the loved ones and, at the same time criticized for the audacity of your plays. Do you believe the Cuban theater of this time needs that audacity?

"I believe that audacity is there and it’s necessary to practice it. If we don't go through there it’s like we had problems to breathe. When, regarding art, you push your boundaries, how much one can say and if the receiver is happy watching your proposal.

“There are people who come to theater and, before asking who is the author or actors, they ask if there is nude in the play. It’s the same as going to Coppelia Ice-cream parlor and ask for almond and they reply: No."

Which do you think is the way to walk by this art and its main characters in what follows?

"It’s your time to struggle young people, the youths, for technology. It’s important that every day there are more social networks, more computers; bridges to reach the moon and go camping people spend holidays in Mars… But theater is too hard to eliminate, despite its old age and craft.

“You must be next to Chekhov when he says that it’s necessary to work every day."

That old theater could be in crisis some may think. What is going on that people don’t fill theater rooms anymore?

"Theater must be taken care of. It’s a luxury to work in it, it belongs to chosen ones. It feels like one is in Mount Vesuvius, although you don’t earn a penny. You feel very happy.

"Not all rooms have problems with the public. Each company should take care of what they do to keep their audience and filling their room, not just during the Festival season.

"Today people rather stay facing a cell phone screen or a computer. But that is impossible with theater: you cannot take home the entire staff so that they make the representation of a play.

"We were recently in New York, at the event "Bajo el radar" (Under the radar), with Antigonón, an epic troupe, and a friend, Armando Correa, current editor for People magazine in Spanish, he gave to four of our young actors tickets to Broadway to watch The French Girl, starred by Uma Thurman. Having such talented actress on stage, right in front of you, it’s a luxury you only find in theater; otherwise, you must seek a movie where she stars in El Paquete (The package).

"On the other hand, having a theater like ours is a privilege, because in the developed world it’s more complicated the existence of so many groups, it takes many resources. Our economy is not fit to sustain this utopia for too long, but let’s enjoy it while it lasts."

I was talking about technology. Do you consider it, next to the new media (Internet), enemy of the theater?

"No, nothing as new and young that struggles for the image can be an enemy. Enemy is the intention of allotting money to achieve something unhealthy, but the social networks help a lot. There is already a generation that could not live without Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… and we must also get to them.

"I am a director who loves visuality. I believe more in the power of an image than in a text. A sentence can lie, an image cannot. That’s why I use audiovisual elements, for example, in Antigonón… The mixture of artistic specialties becomes new languages in the practice of what you do."

Which are your expectations with El Publico Theater, especially when you are no longer directing it?

"I still have some projects left. I still have to do the Orlando, of Virginia Woolf, but El Publico will always exist. I will appear eventually and unleash hell if I don't like what is going on! "

Cubasi Translation Staff / Amilkal Labañino Valdés

Casa de las Americas in 2018

Cuban cultural life will be marked in January by the Literary Prize of this prestigious Cuban cultural institution.

This is how it will begin, as every year, its program in 2018 that will also include, among other proposals, the Musicology Prize, another edition of its Colloquy on Women, as well as the intense days of the Latin American and the Caribbean Theater Season Mayo Teatral, among other events. There will also be workshops, homage, besides exhibits, book premieres, and concerts in favor of common creation of our America.

On January 15th will be formed the jury for the Literary Prize Casa de las Americas that this year arrives to its 59th edition. This award is one of the oldest in the continent. Winning works will be made public on Thursday 25th.

As it’s tradition, during the sessions it will be developed alongside the main event presentations of books, round-tables, panels, and debates about topics related with the genres and categories in competition. The jurors coming from different Latin American countries will participate. The encounters will have venue in Cienfuegos where the jury will work and then here in Havana, on January 22-25.

This time the competition will include the following genres and categories: story, theater, and essay of artistic-literary topic; as well as work in Brazilian literature, with non-fiction books written in Portuguese, and texts published in Caribbean literature in either English or Creole. It has also been convoked the Prize of Studies on Women.

The history of this contest go as far back as the early foundational days of that institution, when, in July 1959, Casa de las Americas, newly created organized the first edition of the contest which after 59 years still has great prestige within the literature of our continent.

While on February 19-23, Casa will host a new edition of the International Colloquy of its Program on Women’s Studies. Those encounters are developed yearly since 1994. This time the main topic will be: “Women and Families in the History and Culture of Latin America and the Caribbean”. Further details at the e-mail:

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The fourteenth edition of the Musicology Prize of Casa de Las Americas is scheduled for March 12-16. This year texts will compete on musical historiography; interpretation and critical explanation of the musical creation; traditional and folkloric music; theory and practice on music teaching; global theoretical frameworks of musicology; and other problems related to aesthetics, sociology and the anthropology of music among others. The dateline for the admission of works is February 1st. During those days it will also take place the Tenth International Colloquy of Musicology.

And of this spring, casa de las Americas will organize the tenth edition of Season of Latin American and the Caribbean Theater Mayo Teatral. On May 11-20 will arrive to this capital, representative theater groups in the region with a great variety that will include dramatic theater, testimony theater, scene of the street, theater of objects, rereading of classics and the presence of outstanding music.

This time the theme axis is the bonds between processes and results, the presentations will be accompanied by thorough explanations of the theater plays. There will also be workshops, conferences, exhibitions, book and magazine premieres, among other proposals.

Likewise the program of Casa de las Americas for 2018, announces the third International Colloquy of Studies on America’s Original Cultures, on October 9-12 dedicated to indigenous languages of America, expression, translation and recovery; and in November will arrive the Author's Week, as customary by yearend every year.

With its varied cultural program, Casa de las Americas, a beautiful project for unity, defense and promotion of the Latin American culture, will continue in 2018 its rich history in favor of the tree of common creation of our America.

Amilkal Labañino Valdés / Cubasi Translation Staff

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A Festival for a City

Havana welcomes its Theater Festival, an appointment where groups and artists from Europe and Latin America participate.

The Theater Festival of Havana will occupy the main theaters of the city until next Sunday. In its 25th edition it will aim for variety in its proposals: it’s difficult to find a fixed pattern, predominant coordinated aesthetic, main topics… But there is a guiding concept: theater as a transforming entity. Mostly as a space for critics.

Many of the shows already on scene approach polemic situations, "reviewing" controversial moments of contemporary history, they established a questioning dialogue with their audiences.

The Knights of the Round Table (Freddys Núñez Estenoz, from a text of Christoph Hein) is an interesting twist for the company of Camaguey Theater of the Wind. With a style of the most exaggerated, eccentric and crazy cabaret, particularly difficult topics are approached.

  

Nobody understood what the actors of Jo Strømgren Kompani, from Norway said on stage. There wasn’t a way, because it’s a pointless language that evokes "Soviet" sounds. There, however, says a lot: powerful metaphors (tragicomic, if you want) about the uncertainty of the future.

Eugenio Deoseffe demonstrates an extraordinary domain of the technique of marionettes. In Magnifying Glass: Worlds to Look Closely (Magnifying Glass, Puppets Company, Argentina; run by: Javier Lester Abalsamo) tells simple and delicious stories that can seduce spectators of all ages.

Stories Well Kept (The Salamander), directed by Ederlys Rodríguez, could be perfectly assumed as a plastic arts proposal. But here we have several stories (truthful or made-up) that interweave in a stylized essence. Theater of environments, of singular poetic touch conceived for an audience not greater than 15 people.

Jacuzzi (Trebol Theater) deals with role of the artist and his positioning in the complex panorama of present times. The nearness of the audience enables an interesting "dialogue."

In Ecstasy (Buendía Theater), Flora Lauten recreates the incidents of one of the most exciting personalities of the Church and literature: Mother Teresa of Jesus. The script written by Raquel Carrió, Eduardo Manet and Lauten herself put on top landmarks events in the life of the famous clergy woman, without seeking to do a biographical retell. There is a lot of poetry that establishes a mild dialogue with our day-to-day life.

The Two Princes (Las Estaciones Theater) it’s a small jewel, where mastery and sensibility of an inspired team come together. It’s about telling the antecedents of the sad homonymous story published by José Martí in The Golden Age, in a succession that awaits some unexpected incidents.

Amilkal Labañino Valdés / Cubasi Translation Staff

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Inside the Theater

This will be a new proposal of the Great Theater of Havana Alicia Alonso, since June 30 as part of the guided journeys they organize every Friday.  

This new activity of that outstanding cultural institution is part of the celebrations for its 180 years of foundation, about to turn in 2018.  

Therefore, starting this week visitors will have the opportunity, every Friday, in the first journey of the day, to know spaces and workspaces to which they usually don’t have access with the guided visits.  

In these halls that will be included in this new journey, it’s developed the entire process of preparation for the shows to be on stage. Among the spaces to be visited appear: the stage, the behind curtains, the basements, the theater’s roof and the dressing rooms. Undoubtedly, a very special attraction will be the visit to the dressing room which regularly used the mythical Cuban dancer Alicia Alonso, head of the Cuban National Ballet, during her memorable performances in that theater.  

With this new option, it’s encouraged a better approach of the public to that representative theater through its history, its performances and the traditions gathered behind its walls for over 180 years.  

Across from the Cuban Central Park, in the Prado of Havana, the Great Theater of Havana Alicia Alonso rises as one of the architectural jewels of this capital city holding great relevance for the city life. Inaugurated in 1838, as Tacon Theater, that institution is today a valuable treasure of culture and Cuban identity, as well as a landmark when spoken of history

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Danish Theater Company to Perform in Cuba

Matanzas, Cuba Nov 2 (Prensa Latina) The Danish theater company Odin Teatret, considered one of the most important theater groups of the contemporary scene will perform today in this city, informed the National Council of the Performing Arts (CNAE).

The group of artists led since by Italian maestro Eugenio Barba, with base in Danish city of Holstebro, is returning to Cuba in a visit similar, for its intensity and extension, to the one they did in 2002, it was reported.

Organized the CNAE, the Tablas-Alarcos Publishing House along with other cultural institutions, the tour also includes several Cuban provinces, informed the source.

In this occasion the group will perform at Papalote room the work Tierra de Fuego, by Nordisk Teaterlaboratorium, with the participation of Carolina Pizarro, directed by Julia Varley, as well as the work Ave María, with Varley herself.

Meanwhile artistic exhibitions and master lectures will take place at the Fragata room of El Miron Cubano theater.

The previous visit of the European company was during the last Theter Festival of Havana when they performed Ave Maria, a uni-personal by Varley, a work included in the current program.

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Danish Theater Group to Perform in Cuba

Matanzas, Cuba, Oct 26 (Prensa Latina) Being considered one of the most important theater groups of the contemporary scene, the Odin Teatret will perform in Cuba on November 1st and 2nd in this Cuban western city, confirmed today the National Council of the Performing Arts.

This collective of artists led since 1964 by the Italian master Eugenio Barba, with headquarters in the Danish city of Holstebro, returns to the island in a visit similar visit,by their intensity and extension to the one they made in 2002.

Organized by the National Council of the Performing Arts, the Tables-Alarcos Publishing House and other cultural institutions, the tour also includes several Cuban provinces.

In this occasion they will present a show, spectacle of the Nordisk Teaterlaboratorium, with Carolina Pizarro, directed by Julia Varley, and Ave Maria, with Varley.

The El Miron Cubano Room will host demonstrations and master lectures, as well as 'From Amagaki to Shibugaki, Geography of a Learning,' also of the Nordisk Teaterlaboratorium.

The most recent visit by this Danish theater group was last year.

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Prominent Cuban Actor José Antonio Rodriguez Dies in Havana

Actor and stage director José Antonio Rodriguez, one of the most important figures of Cuban theater for more than five decades, died on Wednesday in Havana, at age 81.

With the creation of the National Drama Company in 1961 he began his brilliant and remarkable work in theater. Then he was part of La Rueda troupe, until 1968, when he joined he legendary group Los Doce under the direction of late great Vicente Revuelta, Cubasí reported on September 8.

In the early 1980s, he founded the Buscón Group, where he made his best productions as director, like Los asombrosos Benedetti, Buscón busca un Otelo and Cómicos para Hamlet, winners of prizes and very much appreciated by the public and critics. He performed in all of them.

He also worked in cinema, radio and TV. In television, for example, his interpretation of Rigoletto, in the soap opera Las Impuras, by Miguel de Carrión, directed by Roberto Garriga, is memorable.

Among the greatest and most unforgettable performances of his professional career we find those alongside actresses Raquel Revuelta and Veronica Lynn. With the latter he shared the National Theater Award in 2003.

He also received, for his outstanding work, the National Culture Order, two Coral Awards in Acting at festivals of New Latin American Cinema, and the Alejo Carpentier Medal.

His burial was scheduled for Thursday at Havana’s Colon Cemetery. (ACN)

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Cuban Theater Group Awarded with International Prize

Matanzas.- The 29th International Festival Teatre Al Carrer, Villareal, in Spain, awarded the group Miron Cubano with the Ramon Batalla Prize, which recognizes outstanding groups in their work and commitment to the street arts.

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