By Maya Quiroga
HAVANA TIMES — In one of Havana’s poor neighborhoods, where a bit of spiritual uplifting is most needed, puppeteer Adalett Perez Pupo (Holguin, Cuba, 1947), continues to do his missionary work. Honesty and generosity are the two qualities he’s developed since becoming devoted to this art.
El jardín de la alegria (“The Garden of Joy”) is the name of the community project he organizes at his home, located on 212th Street, between 97 and 101 Streets, in the district of Novoa, Alturas de La Lisa, Havana.
With his community project, which does not receive any kind of institutional support, he has set out to spread positive values, at a place not far from where several people passed away after ingesting a methanol mix sold to them as rum.
This is the reason the community is so grateful for the artist’s initiative, which brings joy to the hearts of children, in a neighborhood where entertainment options are few and far between.
El Leon y el raton (“The Lion and the Mouse”), a children’s play by Mexican artist Mireya Cueto (1922-2013) is the piece he staged most recently. Among other things, the play speaks of the importance of helping others.
“My home’s patio is the best place to work in. Community work is very important, because we have many children here who want to be puppeteers or magicians. It’s beautiful seeing such innocent children come into contact with nature.”
“I’ve been organizing this community project for seven years. I stage performances the first and last Sunday of every month. I’ve invited many groups, such as Teatro La Proa or La Compañia de Marionetas Hilos Magicos (“The Magic Strings Puppet Company”), the disciple of puppet maestros Pedro Valdes Piña and Julio Cordero tells us.
It comes as no surprise that Adalett should keep a small museum of puppets and marionettes in his only bedroom, hoping he will one day be able to put them on display at a more appropriate place.
Like a good puppeteers, he made these characters with his own hands. Some are made of plasticine, others with branches and maracas taken from a guira tree.
His inseparable adventure companion, the parrot Alegria (born in 1973), is to be found among these. Adalett affectionately refers to her as “a Cuban vedette. She’s a star like Rosita Fornes, Celina Gonzalez or Celia Cruz, a true queen of the stage.”
This 2015, Adalett celebrates 45 years of artistic work. It all began some decades ago, when he was an amateur working with the Abdala group. He then joined Ismaelillo, based in Havana’s munipality of Boyeros.
In his travels through Cuba and the world, this Cuban entertainer came into contact with folk musician Teresita Fernandez, who invited him to participate in the Las musas traviesas (“The Mischevious Muses”) cultural get-together she organized at Havana’s Parque Lenin.
Perez Pupo has performed in poor communities in Ecuador, Mexico, Colombia, Spain and even Guatemala, at the foot of volcanoes. For Adalett, “the best acknowledgement I get is the applause of children and the public.”
His current plans are to continue working non-stop. He is already preparing a play titled El Tesoro del Labrador (“The Miser and His Gold”), an adaptation of Aesop’s fable by maestro Julio Cordero.