High names of Santiago

Two books and a documentary awaited me at the Santiago de Cuba Book Fair. Three cultural texts that dialogue with each other in a natural way and are worthy of much more than this ad.

Solavaya! Confessions of an old actor from the province or the interior, according to a categorization to use, with an emotional and profound prologue by Carlos Padrón, is not, in fact, a usual memoir, but it follows the deep thread of the itinerary and motivations, of life and art, of our Raúl Pomares. Humorous to the point of laughter, ethical to the bone, the book, by Ediciones Alarcos, 2021, explains why he was a unique actor and creator with nothing to envy the mighty Brando; the model he pursued upon discovering it in A Streetcar Named Desireat the Aguilera street cinema.

Photo: Granma Archive

Born in Omaja sin h, in the province of Las Tunas, unlike Marlon’s hometown, Pomares is key in all the Santiago foundations related to the performing arts and essential in the transition from the Eastern Dramatic Ensemble to the Santiago Theater Council. By turning the ensemble to the street and artistically updating (not just rescuing) the tradition of relationships, he planted a pitchfork in the history of Cuban, Caribbean and Latin American theater.

In the Cabildo they galvanized their training, together with the teacher without a classroom who was Pomares, Fátima Patterson, from Los Hoyos, and Rogelio Meneses, from Camagüey from Santiago, who would now reach his 80th birthday. From the author, actor and director of Grupo Laboratorio Palenque, we appreciate his valuable career, multiple contributions and endearing humanity in Meneses. Presence and soul of Santiago theatera documentary by Carlos A. Fernández and Katiuska Betancourt, with Amanda Productions and the Performing Arts there.

Photo: Granma Archive

In the audiovisual material, Fatima points out that without her participation in the baroque, from Meneses, his Mafifa would not have come. And lo and behold, in his book Peals for ten works It can be read as the backbone of the journey of his Macubá Theater Studio through the basic texts of each show, resulting from the living process of work and not from a cold cabinet writing. Here is the aforementioned initiation stone Repique por Mafifa or La Última Campanera together with Aye n’fumbi (World of the Dead) and Initiation in black and white for women without color; mackerels, among other approaches to the world of popular religiosity, the woman from Santiago and the value of “those from below”. It would have been good to complete the information, at the bottom of each work, in this title of Ediciones Alarcos, 2022, with the essential data of their respective premieres to broaden the vision of the group led by the 2017 National Theater Award.

A new Caribbean Festival is coming soon. There they will all meet, alive and dead, with the inevitable Joel James, in the bowels of the Fire Festival, as Meneses named it, around the archetype of the fight for human advancement. Torch in hand, shaken by the conga, Pomares, Meneses and Fátima will tour the city, more vital than a physical route on land. Santiago is a tradition, an underlined Cuban identity, a unique autochthony. The three, native or not, who interpreted it and made it flourish, are summits like those that can be seen on the other side of the bay.

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