A Clandestine Work for Freedom of Expression

‘Patriotism 36-77’ came about largely thanks to a fundraiser on the Verkami platform. (Pedro Coll)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Miami, 3 November 2018 — Teatro Kairós continues to defy censorship and police repression. After months of rehearsals and study, last weekend he premiered Patriotism 36-77, directed by actress Lynn Cruz, in the abandoned buildings of the former Circus School of the Higher Institute of Art.

Cruz told 14ymedio that “when the news came out of Decree Law 349 that makes the right to do theater in homes impossible,” she was forced to be more creative when choosing the place of presentation.

“I realized that the corridors and halls were ideal for simulating a prison and the galleys. On the other hand, natural light solved all the problems and the acoustics, with a sound design that started from the environmentitself that we could create with the elements of the work, we could do without the music.

We already had to principal resolved so as not to have to do a generatl rehearsal and avoid being discovered. This is the most risky  and performative part of the show. If they make the private spaces illegal, we can take the abandoned State spaces and they can be occupied by the artists,” the actress and director of the piece explained.

The piece premiered last Sunday without advertising, almost in secret, and only a select group of guests attended. The cast of the work consisted of Cruz herself, the actress Juliana Rabelo and the painter Luis Trápaga.

The actress arranged with a group of taxi drivers to collect the guests house by house to help them get to the Circus School, far from the center of Havana.

“The work addresses the psychological and physical violence exerted by the State on people who dare to raise their voices, and in the middle of the process I discovered a Swiss director Milo Rau who did a work, Five Easy Pieces, on pedophilia, starring children. The critics talked about the feeling of suffocation it left, because the piece was about the submission and power of the adult over the violated child.

I said to myself: “I want the spectators to feel what a prisoner of conscience feels in Cuba. Beyond the words I was interested in being suggestive with what was happening in the scene,” she explains.

For Lynn Cruz the bringing of the guests provoked that sensation that she was looking for, something that for her was a “maxim.” The audience, who never knew where they were going or with whom they would share the car that would transport them, would experience that “transit to a place of distrust, fear, uncertainty.” That is, she says, what the people who went felt.

The characters are a critical painter, played by Luis Trápaga; a student of humanities and daughter of a dissident, played by Juliana Rabelo, and Lynn’s character, who is a human rights activist and daughter of a member of the Communist Party.

To achieve her scenographic idea, Cruz thought of everything in direct opposition to the theatrical tradition.

“I had thought of a design with lights that simulate a tunnel, which was difficult to do in a house without losing the visual quality because sometimes one fails, there, to create the atmosphere you need in a play. It happed to me with Los enemigos del pueblo (The Enemies of the People). We were not satisfied with the visuality, and thanks to some young photographers I was able to have an ideal scenario that they offered me in secret, and when I was filming [the film Blue Heart] with Miguel [Coyula] I started studying the ruins.”

Patriotism 36-77 came about largely thanks to a fundraiser on the Verkami platform , where it was described as “a work for the right to freedom of expression in Cuba.”

Lynn Cruz has personally experienced censorship in several creative projects promoted outside the cultural institutions of the country and has faced the persecution of State Security, which has interfered occasionally to prevent presentations scheduled by her on behalf of her independent theater project.


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