“Theater has such a thriving life that it defies space and time,” stated French star Isabelle Huppert on March 27 this year, in her World Theater Day Message. I returned to this beautiful idea after enjoying Luna Nueva (New Moon)in Havana’s Raquel Revuelta Cultural Complex, located on Línea Street, Vedado, the most recent proposal from the Vital Teatro group, directed by Alejandro Palomino.
The play combines texts from four pieces written for female characters by playwright Amado del Pino (Cuba, 1960 – Spain, 2017):
Triángulo, a work of excellence on emotions and encounters, premiered in 2004 precisely by Vital Teatro; the monologue En falso; Cuatro menos, which won the 2009 Carlos Arniches Prize in Spain, making Del Pino the first Cuban to win the award; and Revolico a dúo, written for the group in 2016.
Palomino’s proposal in Luna Nueva maintains the fluency of the dialogues, and the playwright’s choice of language for each character. This combination of texts allows the theater group to present certain contemporary Cuban dilemmas to audiences.
In this theatrical gamble, Palomino achieves a dynamic staging and, as a Vital Teatro premise, the work of the actors is the crowning point, portraying the characters with minimal resources, as noted in the scenery, without grandiloquence, but with complete dedication to their performance and the world created on stage.
The first scene (with texts from Triángulo, En falso and Cuatro menos) was well executed by Nora Elena Rodríguez, Alina Molina, Gretel Cazón, Leivy Rosy, and Adriana Quesada, alongside the only male character (played by Marlon López or Abel Cedre), while Yia Caamaño and Susana Ruiz’s internalization and strong characterization was appreciated in Revolico a dúo, which was presented in full.
Moments before the show, on a rainy Sunday that heralded Hurricane Irma, Alejandro Palomino offered an interview for our readers.
You have staged several works by Del Pino. How did you conceive this piece?
Luna Nueva is a point where, precisely in the dramaturgical sense, several of Amado del Pino’s female characters come together. A large number of Amado’s leading characters are masculine, but these have always been accompanied by female characters who see important developments in the dramatic action. He was also a man concerned about the role of contemporary women in Cuba, and the decisions and expressive elements that the female character can contribute within his dramaturgy.
So we decided that it was the female characters who would star in Luna Nueva, and it is they who develop the dramatic action, and represent on stage many of the obsessions that accompanied him during his life.
Where does the title come from?
It’s from the lines of the character of Miriam in Triángulo, which in full go: ‘and she looks at me like a new moon and I can not offer her another face.’
Let’s go back to the female characters...
For Amado, women have been catalysts, agents of change in society. This is a point of view with which I agree, and that is precisely why we decided that women would be the protagonists. There is only one male character, a young man who is there as a reference, memories, in the sphere of delusions.
The female characters are very solid, with a well-designed structure, they have a vision of the future and of life that are non-negotiable.
Do you respect Amado’s use of language in Luna Nueva, often described as strong and poetic at the same time?
In the performance there is absolute respect for what has been called the poetry of crudeness in Amado’s dramaturgy. Feminine voices are present in Luna Nueva, those creatures that prevail in his pieces.
The play maintains the same aesthetics of the group...
Yes, we have always worked on the basis of the role of the actor. Our shows depend on the work of the actor. Very handcrafted, with few scenographic resources, but rather the contrast of complementary colors, in this case red and green. The costumes are quite sober, black and white. The actor and his expressive skills are the core of our work and this is no exception.
Could you tell us about upcoming performances?
We are making an assessment of U.S. theater. At one point, on the recommendation of Amado himself, with whom we worked systematically for 15 years and owe much of our repertoire, we turned to Williams, O’Neill, Albee, Miller. We are currently reviewing some texts of this intense and interesting theater.
Amado del Pino passed away at the age of 56, a victim of cancer, on January 22, coinciding with Cuban Theater Day, designated in memory of the storming of the Villanueva Theater in 1869.
A few years ago I commented that it was “at least surprising that a contemporary Cuban playwright simultaneously has four of his works on stage. Such good fortune befell Amado del Pino…”
At that time, audiences could choose between Penumbra en el noveno cuarto (2003 UNEAC Theater Award); Tren hacia la dicha (his first work from 1988); El zapato sucio (Critic’s Prize, Virgilio Piñera Prize) and Triángulo.
Vital Teatro and its director Alejandro Palomino, with whom Amado worked so intensely, today honors him with Luna Nueva and the strength of his female characters.
Del Pino’s career (playwright, journalist, critic) was vital and ascendant and his dramaturgy is, and will forever be, central to Cuban theater.
Just as Isabelle Huppert understood: “Theater is always reborn from its ashes… theater has such a thriving life that it defies space and time.”