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Blue/Orange by La Peña Meisner (June 7-10,2013)

Blue/Orange by La Peña Meisner (June 7-10,2013)

Review of Blue/Orange (female cast) by Victoria Alcala
The battle in ”Blue/Orange” is between two psychiatrists, a senior doctor (Dra. Brenda Flaherty played by Yenisse Soria) and her protégé (Dra. Roberta Smith played by Maridelmis Marín). The battleground is the treatment of a young woman (Cristal played by Idalmis García) who has received the diagnosis of a borderline personality disorder but who may be more seriously ill, as Dra. Roberta believes, with schizophrenia. Cristal is about to be released, but the Dra. Roberta wants her recommitted, a course of treatment that Dra. Brenda opposes. It doesn’t take long, however, for Cristal’s interests to become less of a focus for her caretakers and more of a mallet with which they take turns beating each other.

That Cristal is black complicates matters in an intriguing fashion; Dra. Brenda is at work on a book that claims that ethnic and cultural factors are undervalued as psychological influences, and she intends to use the patient in her research, which Dra. Roberta finds appalling. On the other hand, it is Dra. Brenda’s careless vocabulary that offends Dra. Roberta

We were present for the opening night, which featured the all female cast with the patient played by Idalmis Garcia who was both magnetic as an actress and impenetrable as a character, which is precisely how it should be. She is so hopped up on her own adrenaline that she isn’t allowed coffee or Coke and she can also stare in apparent thoughtful understanding for minutes at a time. She does manage to smoke a few cigarettes though (and real ones too – this is Cuba after all).

She can converse with reason and occasional wit, and even argue a point with argumentative force and without simply gainsaying. But she maintains an unshakable belief that oranges are blue and claims that Idi Amin is her father. When she’s listening, it’s unclear how much she is absorbing, and even when she breaks her own silence with a non sequitur, it is with a flicker of internal logic. Her performance never falls back on the clichés of lunacy, nor does it ever grope for sympathy. Rather, Idelmis makes you see how baffling mental illness can be, and how deeply unreachable the mentally ill are.

Yenisse Soria is superb as the elegant and very soave Dra. Brenda Flaherty while Maridelmis Marín does a great job of slowly losing her own grip in the midst of verbal warfare. This is the quintessential…just one more thing…which takes the play through a very long opening set (our only real criticism – it would have been good to have had more even periods).

At times, if your Spanish is good enough, you can simply relax and enjoy a good oh so very Cuban back and forth – it could be about anything – really and then you are brought back to the faithful interpretation of the original text which has not been so much translated into Spanish but thoroughly Cubanized by Julio Carrillo.

The man with amission to bring Meisner to Cuban theatre

Stephen Bayly and the La Peña Meisner de la Habana are back in Havana and will be performing the multi-award winning play written by British dramatist Joe Penhall Blue/Orange at the Teatro Bertold Brecht from 6 June 2013 for one month, as a presentation of Teatro del Publico….

read more… Cast & crew
Blue/Orange was directed by British director Stephen Bayly with actors from the La Peña Meisner de la Habana (The Meisner* Gang) – all professionals trained by Stephen, dedicated to the proposition of presenting realistic contemporary theatre to a Cuban public.

Male cast Female cast Bruce Flaherty: Ernesto del Cañal
Christopher: Yarlo Ruiz
Dr. Robert Smith: Héctor Noas Dra. Brenda Flaherty: Yenisse Soria
Cristal: Idalmis García
Dra. Roberta Smith: Maridelmis Marín Translation to Spanish: Julio Carrillo
Design and costume: Alain Ortiz
Producers: Indira Magaz, Idalmis García y Stephen Bayly
Music: René Rodríguez
Light design : Roberto González Gómez.
Assistance director: Adolfo Mena Cejas Musican producer: José Rosado (EICTV)
Poster design: Kalos Creativos (Melissa Pérez y Daniel Plutin)
Assistant design: Jesús Darío
Sastre: Alejandro Núñez
Video projection: Luis Joan Miraval
Foto fija: Noli Pérez Rodríguez
La Peña Meisner de la Habana
(The Meisner Gang)

British Director Stephen Bayly has been working over the last 7 years with a number of professional Cuban actors and directors, mostly at the EICTV. In 2012 these actors and directors came together to form La Peña Meisner de la Habana, under the leadership of actress Idalmis García. The methods used by the group are based on the teachings of the late Sanford Meisner, and his protégée David Mamet. La Peña is dedicated to the proposition of presenting realistic contemporary theatre to a Cuban public, and promoting truthful, believable acting in film and on the stage.

In February 2012 the group mounted its debut production in Havana, Las Tumbas Olvidadas, an adaptation of Edgar Lee Master’s ‘Spoon River Anthology’. It opened at the Teatro El Sótano, and later, as part of La Semana Británica, played at the Sala Adolfo Llauradó. The work was very favorably received, and commended for its refreshingly direct and truthful performances.

The group is ‘unofficial’, and relies on patronage and sponsorship to run training programs, and mount professional productions. Interested supporters should contact Idalmis García,

Patrons of La Peña Meisner de la Habana

Anthony Horowitz & Jill Green, Jon Finn, Ian Knox, Marc & Nia Evans, Arabella & Paul Tullo

La Habana:
The 100×100 Club

Special thanks for the Havana production to:
Carlos Díaz
Ríguel Salema
Dr. Emilio

Equipo de La Casona de Línea
Gisela González, Julio del Corral, Mónica López, Rhys Patrick, Erlend Skutlaberg, Matt & Jana Pickles, Bernadette Baker, Pavel Escariz, Toby Brocklehurst, Gregory Biniowksy, María Gowland, Jazz Martínez-Gamboa, Yaíma Morfa.

Rafael Rosal, Jo Wilkie, María Julia Grillo, Alejandra Marchioli, Norita Rodríguez, Eduardo Pulido, Tony Horta, Osvaldo Pérez, Alexis Sánchez, Horni Alquízar, Equipo de Talleres Internacionales, Jesús Palenzuela, Nurielys Duarte, Quetzalli Malagón, Lara Rodríguez.

June 2013

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