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Carlos Diaz’s provocatively brilliant Antigone

Carlos  Diaz’s provocatively brilliant Antigone

Using the cover of tragedy and the myth of Antigone**, the play deals with highly charged subjects such as the younger generation of Cubans’ relationship with history and their country’s past, with heroes who have become caricatures and are manipulated by opportunists and simulators until they become statues. The structure is complicated, based on monologues. The staging is splendid and demands the maximum effort from the actors and the brilliant guest dancer Abel Berenguer (of Danza Abierta).

With Teatro El Publico’s customary vision stripping away everything that is sacred and its desire for subversion (a wrenching image of Mariana Grajales, head shaved and naked, shouting her truth in the voice and person of the actress Linnet Hernandez who has made a return to the stage in this play), Teatro el Público firmly plants us in front of those who could represent the new heroes, those who will vindicate (or bury, that is another possibility) the others, facing today’s Cubans and their day-to-day epic. At moments, the tragedy hints at slapstick, picaresque attitudes, “every-day obscenities” in these characters who are faced with their destiny, these heroes who assumed their role in that Homeland that belongs to nobody and is the product of everybody.

The finale, as in the classical tragedy, is cathartic. When Panchito Gómez Toro, the young son of the Dominican general Máximo Gómez, learns of the death in battle of General Antonio Maceo, he runs to die at his side and has the presence of mind to write his farewell: “Dearest Mother, Papa; dear brothers: I die at my post, I did not wish to abandon the corpse of General Maceo and I stayed with him. I have received two wounds and I am taking my life in order to not fall into enemy hands. I do this with great pride for the honor of Cuba”. Antigone, yet again, does not abandon her dead.

* “I dream of cloisters of marble” (They say your children drink / Their own blood in the poisonous goblets / Of their owners! / That they speak the rotten language / Of their ruffians! That they eat / together the bread of shame / at the bloodied table! / That they lose in useless tongue / The final fire!…)

“The Swiss Father”who murdered his young children and then committed suicide (Sublime father, incomparable spirit, / Who to spare the delicate shoulders / of his sons the heavy burden / of a life without faith, without country, / a joyless life without clear course or certain goal, / On his own colossal shoulders took / The terrible burden of his savage crime!)

** Antigone is the daughter of Aedipus and Jocasta, who sees her brothers die, one killing the other fighting on opposite sides in a war for power; she ignores the edict forbidding burial for her brother Polyneices who was considered to be a traitor to the country and finally hangs herself to avoid her punishment. 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
English version
Octubre, 2014
Versión Español
Octobre, 2014
Version Francais
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