Monthly Archives: March 2012

Art that Challenges

Art has always been feared by dictators for its silent and devastating property of exposing the occult. Because it is the messenger pigeon that conveys the feeling of the people, their fears and hopes. It also has the power to move public opinions and to help displace the warlords.

The response of totalitarian governments, as in Cuba, is the constant harassment of artists from multiple variants. Fear is the best weapon to quell the diverse manners of creation. Criticism through Art is an effective weapon of the transformation process, it is the nature of creation. The Artist, through his contradictions and doubts, struggles internally with what is best for Art, society, and against himself (this should be the logical order of creation), since from the beginning the Ruler and his sycophants molest him, he will be target of attacks to return him to the fold, and to begin the process of self-censorship.

But Art is not manipulated, it overcomes fears and future reprisals, because it is the same need arises in one’s freedom to issue a transparent proposal and only for the artistic, that even thrives and succeeds before any attempt to suffocate it.

In the cosmos of creative expressions, the Plastic Arts attack the megalomania of the Castro family. Much of the grief of a nation is constantly consumed, is found in the canvases of contemporary Cuban painters. Music is occupies a prominent place in the offensive against the totalitarian system, with lyrics that criticize the challenges of a society that survives broken and vigilant.

Among all the arts literature is the disadvantaged, perhaps because it is the most dangerous, according to universal history. If the writers that suggest it could become manipulators, from one side or the other, of the national reality, for this they would merit attention from the powers-that-be. A constant criticism of our generation is that we assume the role of the press.

We occupy  the action of real events (no exaggeration, remember socialist realism), and supposedly, according to critics (official), the writer is clearly a storyteller. Many writers let themselves rise. The most you can get from them is silence, in apparently “support” of the system although in the depths of their being they hate it.

For its part, Cinema bets on an art film without political commitment. Of the Arts it is the most convincing, but the high cost of production decreases its chance of fighting in the social scene.

Among the Performing Arts, Theater deserves an aside, it is the most immediate and tangible for its ephemeral format palpable in time, but in turn it is the imprint of the thinking citizen who  interacts with social events which the media silences.

The “Bertolt Brecht Theatre,” for two months, provides the setting “Our Village,” version and direction by Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti with his  project “The Sugar Refinery” based on “Our Town” by the American Thornton Wilder.

Cremata has the ingenuity  to contextualize the work and bringing it to our reality, offers us an amazing actuality that, through the skillful management of emotions, exposes us to the most ordinary needs, creating a show which fuses with an excellent illumination, music, circus art and dance, until they sprout vibrations and feelings, in the act of receiving and returning to the public what only theater can fully achieve, and that leads us to pursue every movement and wink between light and shadow that at times delights, and others gives us a lugubrious aura of the smoke and hollow of a world we resist entering, but that ultimately we are drawn into its interior, grateful, from the moment of realization, for the compelling performances of the actresses and actors, the complicity of the technical team who, at some point from their airy corridors, conspire with its characters.

The Director again turns our attention to the living generation, aging, death and childhood, with all that dramatic premise without leaving the popular mockery, the joke, releasing his actors not to be confined to a tight script, and providing the possibility of improvisation.

The story, in three acts, follows the life of Emily, who is the love of George, his neighbor and schoolmate, whom she later marries, and in the second act she dies; and who then asks to return, she wants to exist among the living even one day because she misses her son, her husband, home, and despite the advice of relatives who live in the land of dead who tell her not to return.

Emily returns, picking up on the day of her twelfth birthday, but discovers that the pain is even greater, it becomes unbearable to remember, to live outside time knowing that we must return, to that place that definitely is no longer among the living. So she asks to return before the end of the day, finding that “the living do not understand death,” she, meanwhile, she has also failed to understand the living, her languages and perspectives are no longer the same.

With the particularity that in Cuba the difficulties are multiplied when compared to the rest of the world, recognizing our reality convulses and the times where we live with such haste, provide a work stages in three hours that seem impossible to achieve, however “Our Village ” won over in most ways an audience eager and excited, that gave it a standing ovation and thanked the immense artistic effort of the cast and crew, no doubt, a sign of success.

Of course, many laughs and tears about the reality that surrounds us, as all roads lead to Rome, in Cuba all lead to covert censorship, the proof being the absence of any official representative of Cuban culture. Despite that their seats have remained vacant waiting for the dark shadows of the functionaries, they occupy the space of creation without limit or fears, that in hopes of achieving transparency and creativity, with ARTE, the deepest and most international of languages, which even manage to pull from its viewers their joys, fears and sorrows.

And we left the theater with this emotional richness for which we will forever be grateful.

March 11 2012

The Movement of the Outraged: a Fiction for Cubans on the Island

I was struck by the Movement of the Outraged taking over the plazas of the world, like the Old West, without getting into whether or not there are reasons to do it, because I have no details about the situation that led them to take this action. (When such protests happen in Cuba, then I’ll be able to give you the details of these events.)

What I find odd is how you can camp, set up a tent and decide, “I’m staying here.” For Cubans that would be science fiction. Being neither a political scientist or sociologist, barely a scribe who can express a feeling, I applaud any social movement that appeals to the freedom to protest and express their disagreements.

Here we know that the Ladies in White are barely visible from any part of the country, only in passing, in a silent walk, facing a horde of gangsters, mercenary abusers paid by the government, who beat them and drag them right in the street and take them into custody, these women who possess only the weapon of their courage to defend themselves and a gladiolus to awaken good feelings.

In the United States the Outraged carried posters saying they are 99% of the population. Then my doubts emerge: where is the other percentage of the voters, however slight it might be, that went to the polls to elect the current President, or is it the other percentage that the polls say support the administration of Barack Obama.

Then my doubts continue to grow. How were they able to buy all those tents for the campaign in an economy that’s hurting?

If they spend the twenty-four hours hanging around the tents, how do they survive without eating or drinking, assuming they are the most impoverished strata of the society?

Until I saw, through the images, that they started to cook in huge pots, and then I stop worrying about their dying of hunger. But then another question arises, who pays for all this food over the months? How can they print all the propaganda they pass out and put up in the streets? Who hires the designers, photographers, pays for the paper, the printing, the transportation of distribution, the stickers for the walls?

Finally, now they’re making a four-page newspaper with opinion articles, editorials and information about the occupation movement, where they publish their demands which they then distribute, freely, ensuring that they will serve to bring their demands for favorable policies in all corners of the country. Where do they get the money to carry this campaign to all the states of the union?

What’s more, simultaneously, on all the ports on the west coast (I already said it reminded me of old Hollywood movies), the outraged blockaded them to protest corporate greed. And they have a much larger plan, which is to occupy the terminals from Alaska to San Diego, and then expand even to Vancouver in Canada.

When I see all the power they themselves hold it seems to me like they are a big corporation. I can’t stop thinking that someone with money is behind the manipulation of those needs. Someone, who are not the residents and business owners of the places where they’ve installed themselves and who pressure the leaders to honor the citizens’ guarantees, to get the benefits of all this.

In London they have been so consistent that, after several months camped in the middle of the city, the authorities have resorted to legal methods to assess whether those responsible for the acts have to right to remain there or must leave. I suppose, that if they don’t comply with the verdict, the most likely is that they’ll be expelled by force.

This then is where Cuban television airs the incrimination images of the governments that impose order by force. In addition, the London government has accepted that leaders of other countries harangue the masses, exhorting them to remain in that place “to be direct descendants of the Hindu Mahatma Gandhi, the American Martin Luther King or the South African Nelson Mandela.

In Cuba the “outraged” last the time it takes for a cop car to show up on the scene: a few minutes. This is the average time a dissident protest lasts in Cuba. Then they are processes “judicially” for “public disorder,” or for being “allies of the enemies of the Revolution,” “violating the sovereignty of the homeland,” and dissimilar causes that don’t appear in the penal code but that have been invented at their convenience to maintain themselves in power as long as possible.

What is unbearable is to see the cynicism with which the regime criticizes other governments that expel their outraged. My question would be are they preparing the population psychologically for when we come out to protest and they make us disappear, as if by the magic arts, and leave us forgotten in some dark dungeon of their cells, justifying by saying that it happens everywhere, and therefore the Castro brothers will do the same.

I imagine the destination as a book written by someone else, where we are mere characters. When we get to the scene of the protests, it will be the first line of the first paragraph. I am not one of those who harangues and pushes, those who write at the cost of others’ blood and profit from them, but, above all, I prefer to write from my own pain.

February 29 2012