Jazz Vila Project: Cuban Theater on Social Media

A new comedy Vestuario o Maquillaje (Wardrobe or Make-Up in English) – VOM – will premiere on YouTube.  Theater in times of COVID-19.

By IPS-Cuba

Vestuario o Maquillaje (VOM), a comedy show, is made up of eight three-minute episodes. Photo: Taken from Jazz Vila Project’s (JVP) Facebook page.

HAVANA TIMES – Heavy rains caused damage at the Pandora theater. This led the Wardrobe and Make-Up departments to share the same dressing room… This storyline seasoned with funny conflicts, the Jazz Vila Project (JVP) will premiere a series online on September 21st.

The troupe is one of the most high-profile Cuban theater groups, with the largest number of followers (mainly youth). JVP returns to cyberspace with Vestuario o Maquillaje (VOM), a comedy show made up of eight three-minute episodes.

Directed by playwright Jazz Vila, the group has chosen YouTube to broadcast the premiere, and Instagram IGTV for reruns.

The Jazz Vila Project On Stage

JVP is a professional theater company based in Havana. Its plays Rascacielos, Eclipse and Farandula make up a trilogy of consecutive box office hits. This made the company what is called “a convergence model between art and the market.”

The troupe performs at national and international festivals. It has regular tour dates in the Dominican Republic and the US – thanks to their bilingual repertoire. It stands out for its online publicity and its use of digital media, allowing it to gain lots of followers.

Since 2018, JVP has harnessed the benefits of different social media platforms by creating theater-related content.

“This is a series which defends the most authentic comedy as the main genre,” said Raiza Arango, JVP’s Communication expert.

It features Jazz Vila, Victor Fernandez and Cinthia Parede’s original idea and script, and photography direction by Henry Soto. VOM unfolds in a make-up dressing room at the Pandora Theater, as the only location.

The series appeal includes the incorporation of different guests known by their Cuban audience, alongside group members. These include comedian Luis Silva, from the TV show Vivir del Cuento, the favorite comedy show on Cuban TV. Singer Haila Mompie, fashion designer Dorian, and influencer Carnota are others.

The protagonists of this new play, by the group that was created in 2014, wear colors representing their personalities. One of the company’s trademarks is making it easier for viewers to recognize characters.

An added bonus is the series’ theme song Vestuario o Maquillaje. A timba track composed by musicians Efrain Chibas and Marlon Pijuan.

According to Jazz Vila Project’s Communication expert, Raiza Arango, this is a series which defends the most authentic comedy as its main genre.  Photo: Taken from Jazz Vila Project’s (JVP) Facebook page.

Making the most of opportunities

During times of physical distancing and COVID-19, Vila and his team decided not to give up on their audience.

“Now that we can’t put on a play physically, we’ll bring the plays to you.” That’s a motto that Vila has brought to life during the pandemic in Cuba.

In June, they experimented with Farandula Live, becoming the first theater company in Cuba to perform a play on Instagram. A way to sidestep the pandemic and social distancing with art.

“Spreading the performing arts via social media is part of our vision, we can take it to viewers’ homes. So, we have strengthened the theater as an entertainment space,” noted the artist.

The play Farandula deals with issues such as isolation, corruption and sexuality. With two live performances in June they reached a total of 170 viewers, making it the company’s most successful show.

“Physical distancing imposed by COVID-19 forced Jazz Vila to reinvent his most popular play. As a result, VOM was reborn as a theater product with an audiovisual support. It focuses on online interaction language,” Arango pointed out.

The company revealed that VOM will be the pretext for Jazz Vila Projects to launch their own YouTube channel. There’s a demand from thousands of viewers who want access to the company’s plays and communication products.

Vila notes, “We don’t have to be cut off from one another. If a company is working for young people, it has to be on social media.”

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