The tenth edition the Mayo Teatral festival, a biennial event organized by the Casa de las Américas, offered 11 full days of dissimilar programming that allowed Havana and several Cuban provinces to see some of what is happening on the Latin American and Caribbean scene.
Fifteen shows by eight Cuban companies and seven from Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Martinique, Mexico, and Puerto Rico, were presented in theaters in the capital, Santiago de Cuba, Guantánamo, Holguín, Camagüey, Ciego de Ávila, Cienfuegos, Villa Clara, and Matanzas.
Both the visiting groups and the local ones performed their most recent stagings, and spectators could appreciate the plurality of discourses and themes being presented currently around the region.
In the words of Vivian Martínez Tabares, Mayo Teatral artistic director, a good portion of the pieces arriving this time “address controversial and pressing issues, of decisive relevance. This is theater for an uncomfortable time, always revealing.”
The outstanding critic explained how the Casa managed to attract “once again, a group of companies with varied artistic proposals, rigorous in their formal elaboration, and connected organically to social problems of their respective contexts, with proven experience in confronting spectators, and which thanks to their artistic rigor, are references in terms of high quality aesthetics and the diversity that results from the numerous expressive tendencies that characterize the region’s scene.”
Referring to the selection of Cuban participants, she insisted that the same principles and high expectations apply, stating, “We attempt to cover a broad spectrum of performance expressions, styles, and genres, and that groupings of proven experience and new groups coexist - tradition and experimentation.”
COMPANIES AND PERFORMANCES
Appreciated was the presence, after a ten-year absence, of actor and clown Hernán Gené (son of the eminent Argentine director Juan Carlos Gené), who brought to Cuba his Mutis, a one-man show based on the texts of William Shakespeare, which became one of the festival’s major attractions.
Two other one-actor performances were also noteworthy: from Martinique, Histeria, by artist Annabel Guèrèdrat, and from the Bolivian company LATEscena, Animales domésticos, by actor Piti Campos Villanueva.
Mateluna, from the Chilean company of the same name, staged and directed by Guillermo Calderón, is a testimonial, self-referenced work on the life of the group, showing the process of creation of a performance. The play is focused on the social situation and the judicial process surrounding the release of a former guerilla Jorge Mateluna, victim of false evidence - which the company refutes and condemns.
With an attention-grabbing title and content, El Divino Narciso, directed by Raquel Araujo, was presented by the Mexican group Teatro de La Rendija. According to program notes, “We started with Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz to arrive at our own take, provoked by the reading of El Divino Narciso, reviewing her verses over and over again, on the basis of our concerns as women living in a Mexico in constant transformation.”
The Brazilian company Ói Nói Aquí Traveiz, brought the performance ¿Dónde? Acción no. 2, that emerged from Viudas, a novel by Chilean Ariel Dorfman. With the lead taken by Tania Farias, actress and group leader, the play provoked debate and refection on the nature of the military dictatorship in Brazil, in an act of theatrical resistance of explosive beauty.
The performance begins with the women standing in front of empty chairs, asking each other: Where are those who disappeared under the dictatorship? The question still floats in the air today, unanswered.
Hij@s de la Bernarda, from Tojunto, Puerto Rico, directed by Rosa Luisa Márquez, is a piece inspired by La casa de Bernarda Alba, by Federico García Lorca, and the creation of the masterful Boricua Gilda Navarra. It was the first work of theater/dance presented at the San Juan Museum of Contemporary Art, where tickets were bought with food and medicine for those impacted by Hurricane Maria. The show included theater, performance, flamenco, and experimental dance.
Cuban groups added to the diversity exhibited by the visiting companies. Argos Teatro re-staged Diez millones, written and directed by National Prize for Theater winner Carlos Celdrán, and Santiago de Cuba’s Theater Studio Macubá, Caballas, directed by Fátima Patterson, another National Prize winner.
Two works by Teatro de las Estaciones, from Matanzas, were selected: Cuatro and Retablillo de Don Cristóbal and Señá Rosita. Also from this city’s Teatro el Portazo, presented was CCPC, La República Light, while participating from Holguín was the Trébol Theater with Jacuzzi, script, staging, and lights by Yunior García.
Teatro de La Luna’s Raúl Martín re-staged the work scripted by Alberto Pedro, El banquete infinito, and from the Centro Promotor del Humor, included in the program was La Cita, written by Andrea Doimeadiós, and directed by Osvaldo Doimeadiós, in which two young actresses, Andrea Doimeadiós and Venecia Feria, demonstrated “feminine and intelligent humor … and essentially critical.”
Alongside the programming in theaters, the event included workshops organized around the theme of “Process-result,” chosen for this 10th edition of the festival. Martínez Tabares reported that this thematic axis was selected given the importance of both the process of creating a piece and the results obtained, as a reflection of a company’s work.
She explained that the result is what we see on the stage, but now groups are invited to artistically deconstruct the work from a conceptual point of view – addressing the methodology they used, the priorities in technical terms, that is, the problems of creation.
Workshops were led by dramaturges Rosa Luisa Márquez (Brincos y saltos. El juego como disciplina teatral and Raquel Araujom, with actresses from Teatro de La Rendija (Palabra y sentido. Sobre el trabajo del actor y el verso en escena), and the Brazilian collective Ói Nóis Aquí Traveiz, (in charge of Teatro Calle, Vivencia con la Tribu de Atuadores)
Over the course of these ten seasons, Mayo Teatral has provided an opportunity for dialogue amongst Latin Americans and Caribbeans, a festival for Cuban audiences, which has been able to enjoy the artwork of the continent’s principal exponents, such as La Candelaria, Yuyachkani, Teatro de los Andes, Matacandelas, and Malayerba – in perhaps not the most recent, but high quality works, for sure.
Mayo Teatral continued this history in 2018 with attractive stagings, organized moreover in such a way that the interested spectator could see them all during one spring month.