Culture, Multiculture, On Stage, Our People

Art and social statements have a name: Cabotín Theatre

Sancti Spíritus, Cuba.- For more than a decade this group has found the energy for its stagings in societal issues, coming up with an area of resistance that from the centre of Cuba places them as one of the island’s most promising theatre companies.

 

Elizabeth Borrego Rodríguez

 

This was confirmed by the invitation to participate in the Havana International Theatre Festival (FITH), where they acted together with Cuban groups and those from 12 other countries after a selection process, in which only four other groups were chosen from within the Greater Antilles.

Laudel de Jesús, the director of Cabotín Theatre, spoke with Prensa Latina at the project’s headquarters – located in the city of Sancti Spíritus, around 360 kilometres from Havana – about the importance of the group’s participation in the Havanan contest.

“After the anonymous selection process, we were notified of the selection of Spontaneously (Espontáneamente), a play by Amado del Pino performed for the first time this year, whose poetics have been linked to the group for some time”. “The FITH nomination is a surprise and to have the nomination for this play is even more of a surprise because he is a recurrent writer, one we returned to for the third time because we like his dialogues and the realistic plots that his work shows”, he explained.

It is a work that delves into the Cuban reality and at the same time the author’s own biography – who died at the beginning of this year – which in turn leads to a surprising, unlikely and interesting relationship.

The protagonists are two Cubans, one lives abroad and returns to Cuba with excitement. But that act of living abroad allows one to weigh up the good things, and perhaps the bad things then do not seem so bad, noted the playwright.

“The other person” he added, “makes a living as a rickshaw driver, working in the sun, and knows Cuba inside out and so, maybe, has a more critical vision of the island, of society, though he also weighs up the good things”.

A conversation between the two “spontaneously” sets the scene for the plot of the play, where many details of the author’s life appears, who emigrated to Europe before his death, but often returned to visit the island.

This Cuban reality, previously revisited by Amado del Pino and the group itself, forms part of the discourse built by the group since its foundation 12 years ago, as confirmed by its director.

According to Jesús, Cabotín is very interested in “the dialogue with Cubans nowadays, the emotional telling of the island’s story, and in the authors we visit is just that: the social history told from a theatre room, from a set of characters who synthesise behaviours, ways of thinking, doing and being Cuban”. Due to the theatre’s close relationship with social reality, the group found its principal authors in playwrights such as Ulises Rodríguez Febles, Nicolás Dorr and, in particular, Amado del Pino.

Del Pino and Cabotín

The work of Amado del Pino (1960-2017) represents one of the most remarkable in contemporary Cuban theatre. This is confirmed by the opinion of experts, who recognise in his work a poeticism principally interested with social issues.

Born in the province of Camagüey, this theatre expert, playwright and actor forged an interest and an authentic solidarity for stage creations far from the centre and public expectation, explains Omar Valiño.

After his first work, “Train to Happiness” (Tren hacia la dicha), he settled within the Cuban popular expression, loaded with intelligence and symbolism, an expression in constant struggle against a framework of poetic realism, wrote this author following del Pino’s death.

Next followed creations such as “The Dirty Shoe” (El zapato sucio) (his first theatrical award – the Virgilio Piñera Dramaturgy Award), “Triangle” (Triángulo), “Shadows in the ninth room” (Penumbra en el noveno cuarto) (José Antonio Ramos Award from the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba) and later “Spontaneously”, which reaffirmed the same themes.

Cabotín’s work with del Pino’s plays, is also marked by the group’s interest in working with the island’s reality, its culture and its people, says Laudel de Jesús.

“If you can say there is a definition of a face for the group, then it is Cuban dramaturgy, that dialogue with Cubans happening right now, that emotional telling of stories from a set of characters that synthesise behaviours, ways of thinking”, adds the director. (PL)

(Translated by Sydney Sims – Email: sydneyebsims@gmail.com)  –  Photos: Cabotín Teatro Twitter

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