José Martí Plaza de la Revolución. The somber night of November 29, 2016. A voice resounds, moving the hundreds of thousands gathered there and the millions watching on television: Fidel, loyal descendant of Martí!
It was the eminent Cuban actress Corina Mestre, reciting the splendid verses of Jesús Orta Ruiz, the Indio Naborí (Havana 1922- 2005), who wrote them in one sitting in January of 1959, entitling the poem "Marcha triunfal del Ejército Rebelde" (Rebel Army Victory March).
Some know the actress from television dramas (Pasión y prejuicio, El eco de las piedras), others from her long stint at the Teatro Estudios, where she triumphed with Shakespeare (The Twelfth Night, Macbeth, directed by Vicente Revuelta), with Federico García Lorca (Bodas de sangre, La zapatera prodigiosa) and an unforgettable La Verbena de la Paloma, in a version by Berta Martínez.
But Corina Mestre (Havana, 1954) went far beyond the stage, and since 1984 has dedicated herself to teaching, to become today a full professor and head of the Acting Department at the Higher Institute of Art (ISA).
This dedication has again become news: the Ministry of Culture has awarded her the 2016 National Prize for Arts Education, "for her accomplishments in teaching… and by virtue of her strong ties with education and her recognized acting work in all media."
Jury president Elmo Hernández, who also heads the Arts Education Committee of the Union of Cuban Writers and Artists (UNEAC), stated, "Corina is the palpable demonstration that no professional career is damaged by devoting oneself to teaching. On the contrary, they are perfectly compatible, and it is in consideration of this pedagogical model that the foundation of Cuban culture has been created."
The presentation of the award, took place at the San Alejandro National Academy of Visual Arts, on December 22, Day of the Educator, also the 55th anniversary of the Literacy Campaign and the declaration of Cuba as an illiteracy-free territory.
For Corina Mestre, exceptional actress and teacher, a line from the poem by Indio Naborí is most deserved: "Modestly, as one who has simply done their duty."