By Lynn Cruz & Miguel Coyula
HAVANA TIMES — After the vertigo of seeing empty seats during the performance, which only two viewers could come to, the collective of Teatro Kairos, especially we the author and the director of the play, want to share some of our impressions of this event.
First and foremost, we would like to thank those who have shown their solidarity with the project, whether that’s been on social media, a phone call or in person, especially the theater people and our guests, who we would like to apologize to for the unfortunate episode.
Thanks to the young director Adonis Milan, who inspired us to write this play, contributing his ideas, which were cut short in the beginning because of his fear of reprisals in the face of my decision to use direct language. On that occasion, a young playwright who Milan showed a first draft of my script said: “This is suicide, don’t count on me to be involved.” I then added this line to the character’s script: “I did it, even though I knew that I was annihilating myself, a social suicide.”
Censorship of this play is an injustice as it still hadn’t made its debut and the script still hadn’t been published. Therefore, only very few people knew what the play was about. This isn’t the first time that events like these have affected us, as the same thing happened right here in “Casa galeria El Circulo” in April, a space that is managed by artists Luis Trapaga and Lia Villares, when a policeman and state security agent blocked off the adjoining streets and stopped our documentary “Nadie” from being screened.
All of these events are the result of the brutal censorship that has fallen upon us ever since the play: “Exit the King” written by Eugene Ionesco was taken up by director Juan Carlos Cremata which led to him being kicked out of the National Council for the Performing Arts and being insulted and treated as if he were the worst kind of criminal, without also thinking about the care an institution should have with its artists, given their sensitivity.
We must also highlight the fact this was the first time that a signature of this institution as a censor was made public, as the now former president Gisela Gonzalez put her name down, and this has marked a before and after in the organization so to speak.
Now, with the dialogue with independent producers being closed, institutions and the government no longer worry about hiding themselves as censors, and as someone who has been on the receiving end of this firsthand, the order is to repudiate us with the same repressive and coercive practices that they use with politicians.
Even though the backwardness of old socialism continues to endure here, wiping out the border between “art and politics” is still a trap that gags us. Our troupe defends the right to make a political play, which doesn’t mean we aspire to take a seat in the new parliment, which is ironically moving back to Havana’s Capitolio building.
Furthermore, at this time, the National Council for the Performing Arts is suffering a disbandment, as a corruption scandal was discovered a year ago where Gisela Gonzalez was also involved. During the Central American migration crisis, many Cubans stranded in Mexico were carrying official Cuban passports, which had been solicited by the Council even though they weren’t members.
A couple of weeks later, Noel Bonilla, who was acting as president after Gonzalez’s arrest, was expelled for sharing an article taken from the independent online newspaper 14 y medio at Havana’s Theater Festival, about the play: “Departure”, by the “El Ciervo Encantado group”, which is probably the most well-established in Cuban theater, and directed by Nelda Castillo.
Therefore, we must highlight the crisis that Cuba’s institutions are experiencing, especially in the performing arts, unmoraly repudiating us as they don’t represent us or inspire us.
Notes from the printed program for “Enemies of the People”
In Cuba, those who were born in the ‘70s are the generation without a future.
In the middle of their blooming youth, the Socialist Bloc fell and with it their dreams of the paradise that Communist children had been promised as well as a more just system and social equality. It all vanished.
At that time, Fidel Castro’s persona had begun to lose popularity, so much so that the love people professed for him became fear, guilt for no apparent reason, where doing anything against him would unleash the apparatus of terror that he himself had established.
A woman who was reawakened in Carlota Corday, a historic figure, who acquires a mythical and ubiquitious power, travels in time and comes back to life in Cuba, after having witnessed the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD during Nero’s rule, a long time before her birth in France. A genocidal act and her later immunity lead her to commit a new crime.
On a stage devoid of all props, drawing from the premise of Low Budget Theater, a concept created by Polish director Jerzi Grotowski: “Ours then is a via negativa – not a collection of skills but an eradication of obstacles,” putting emphasis on the actor’s performance. And so, by adopting these concepts, we want to keep our theater outside of the institution, as this is the only way it will survive.
In this way, any space (a living room, the street or even a prison) can be a stage, where it recovers its sense of platform, its power to challenge and freedom not only in form, but in content too. “Enemies of the People” is the second piece from the independent creative collective: “Teatro Kairos” which was founded in 2012 with the play: “El Regreso”, based on the original: “La Indiana” by Catalan playwright Angels Aymar which was supported by the Spanish Embassy back then.