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After graduation, he worked as theater consultant and assistant director for Roberto Blanco and the Teatro Irrumpe Company where he did everything but direct. A second job as artistic director and general consultant for the Ballet Teatro de La Habana gave way to a chance to produce three plays a year for the National Theatre. His first three productions, A Streetcar Named Desire, Tea and Sympathy and Glass Menagerie were billed as the North American Theater Trilogy. This was the origin of what would one day become Teatro El Público.
Now, as a famous director, Carlos is unassuming, calm, friendly as he meets us at the Trianón Theater, the home of his company since the 1990s. This former movie theatre was also the home of the National Symphony Orchestra during the early years of the Special Period. We find him preparing tests for fourth year students of the National Theater School. Alongside his teaching responsibilities, he produces a play every year with undergraduates who will soon take charge of Cuban theater. Some of his most talented students, he hopes, will go on to join the ranks of Teatro El Público. “I believe,” he confides, “that you have to draw on the youth. I recall a time when an 18-year-old character was played by a 40-year-old actress. I believe that you should give 18-year-olds the chance to show off their age on stage.”
For Carlos, the most important thing in theater is communicating with his audience. He believes that theatrical art should entertain the public: “I prepare a play like if I were preparing a party,” he says. And truth be told, there’s no shortage of guests at Carlos’ “parties.” The Teatro El Público has worked hard to win its own public. “People come here and don’t know what they’ll see, but they have a pretty good idea of what will happen,” says the director who, instead of success, prefers to talk about communication. He loves packed houses and attributes the long lines outside of the theatre to his carefully chosen repertoire and consistent style of work. We might also add that his provocative, inordinate, irreverent, unconventional and sensual way of dealing with the key topics of double standards, intolerance, spirituality and sexuality in everyday life of Cubans today has a lot to do with his success as well.
A tireless worker, Carlos brings a swift pace to his band of merry men and women, and his success is marked on the plaques that line the façade of the Trianón that boast 100 performances of different plays produced by the Teatro El Público troupe and its director. Some of the most successful include La Celestina, The Twelfth Night, The Crucible, Caligula and Antigonón, un continente épico.
A lover and admirer of the cinema, Carlos has had close encounters with a number of film directors. Both Fernando Pérez and Gerardo Chijona have requested his assistance in several film productions, but the theater is his passion. “The idea of not doing theater makes me feel terribly unhappy, he says.”
Who is Carlos Díaz? The answer is simple: he is “a very happy man who asks very little of life, only the possibility of going every day to the theater, who strives to be humble, who has been very much loved and has loved immensely, and whose major responsibility is to never stop doing theater.” Make sure to catch one of his critically-acclaimed productions with the Teatro El Publico
TEATRO EL PÚBLICO.
A leader of the post-modern theatre in Cuba, the El Publico is provocative, inordinate and irreverent. Founded by Carlos Diaz in 1992, it has accomplished something quite rare: It has gained an immediate rapport?in spite of its totally unconventional productions?with dissimilar audiences who fill the theatres. From The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire to the controversial Celestina with its 150 presentations, Díaz confronts hypocrisy and conventionalisms with imagination, irony, innovation and, above all, good performances.
Cine Teatro Trianón
Calle Línea entre Paseo y A
Tel. 830 9648
Box office from 6pm Fri, Sat; from 3.30pm Sun
Performances 8.30 pm Fri, Sat; 5pm Sun
The Trianon is home to the company Teatro El Publico (see below) as well as a cinema used for the International Film Festival in December. Octuber 2014 This article formed part of the August 2014 issue of What’s On Havana The definitive monthly travel & culture guide to Havana Download our current issue of What’s On Havana, your definitive travel, culture and entertainment guide for all things happening in Havana, Cuba’s bustling and enigmatic capital city. We include features from around Cuba written by the best international travel writers covering Cuba. Our monthly online digital magazine is also available in Spanish and French.
What’s On Havana What’s On La Habana What’s On La Havane Octuber, 2014
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