Havana Theater Fest Opens Thursday

By Yael Prizant

Urgent Theater. The Havana Theater Fetival Poster.

HAVANA TIMES, Oct. 25 — They’re arriving. The streets, and Havana’s hotels, are swarming with foreign actors, directors, and designers. It is the surest sign that the 14th Havana Theater Festival is upon us.

The international gathering, which takes place roughly every two years, officially begins October 28 and will continue in various locations throughout Havana until November 6.

This year’s event has been dubbed the festival of “teatro urgente” or urgent theatre. The title emphasizes the pressing need for exchange, for direct contact and conversations, and for debate – between countries, between actors and audiences, between artists and society.

Cuba will present three dozen shows, from various provinces across the island, created by its 34 participating theatre companies.

The highlights include Talco, a portrait of Havana’s brutal underworld by Abel González Melo, skillfully directed by Argos Teatro’s Carlos Celdrán. El Pequeño Teatro de La Habana, under the direction of José Millián, will present a new version of Beckett’s Nobel Prize winner Waiting for Godot. Carlos Díaz has directed a daring production of Noche de reyes for the event, and playwright Rogelio Orizondo’s piece Ayer dejé a matarme gracias a ti.

Heiner Müller, performed by the most recent graduates of the Instituto Superior del Arte (ISA) under the direction of Mario Guerra, will premiere at the festival. Teatro Buendia is planning to remount its incredibly popular Charenton, staged by the youngest members of the company. Nearly ten shows for children will also be showcased, as will many monologues that garnered prizes at this year’s Monologue Festival in Cienfuegos.

The international offerings promise to be of great interest as well. Over 30 theatre companies from all over the world were invited to participate, and 16 countries will be represented. Five productions come from Argentina and Chile, including writer/actress/director Heidi Steinhardt’s El trompo metálico and Me desordeno amor, a combination of works by singer Carmen Prieto and poet/actress Malucha Pinto.

A co-production between Mexico and Uruguay, along with pieces from Brasil, Ecuador, and Venezuela will round out the offerings from Latin America. Six companies from Spain, and several from France, Germany, Finland, Italy, Turkey and Norway will also present recent works. There are even four productions from the United States scheduled, including a Broadway musical revue.

When participants aren’t in the theatre, they might attend any number of workshops and talks throughout the city. For instance, Maritza Acosta will offer a session on pantomime with members of Narración Oral del Gran Teatro de La Habana. There will also be a number of exhibitions, including a demonstration of audiovisual techniques for the theatre at the Galería Raúl Oliva at the Bertolt Brecht Cultural Center.

As expected, the festival will open with an enormous production – Extravagantia, a divine spectacle, is set to take place at the Morro-Cabaña (Havana’s fortress) on the evening of Thursday October 27. It will be directed by Antonia Fernández and hopefully inspire ten days of fruitful and exciting exchange.

For more information including the program, visit the Consejo Nacional de las Artes Escénicas or go to www.cubaescena.cult.cu.