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Teatro El Publico

Obsessions, death and pardon are explored by El Publico theater group in the 1677 Jean Racine tragedy Phaedra, which Cuban director Carlos Diaz says "represents powerful passion that overrides reason."

"Here is my heart. This is the place to strike. lend me your sword, if not your arm," says in a deep voice the Queen Phaedra, played by Alexis Diaz de Villegas.

The unanswered fervor of an abandoned monarch for her stepson, who in truth loves the only surviving lass of his fathers enemy, leads to a double death that makes the immoral King forgive all three and adopt the surviving girl as his own.

The director explained to Prensa Latina that the first-rate male lead was cast as queen because thats the way things were done in the original tragic theater.

Cuban poet Norge Espinosa Mendoza says in the program that "Love is an impure action that can lead us to more pure acts," which Diaz explains could be that the Queen finally confesses her true feelings.

Unfortunately these unleash a wrathful Kingly curse that gets the son bumped off by a sea monster.

The director explained they worked hard to deconstruct the noble image of the father, stressing his womanizing and abuse of what may be one of the deepest drag queens to grace a Havana stage.

Profound like the Boswell translation suggests, the suicidal Phaedra says after making life miserable for the unenthusiastic prince "Hating me more I loved you none the less: new charms were lent to you by your misfortunes."

Diaz said this piece involved tireless commitment from the troupe, witnessed by this reporter at the Trianon theater on an air conditioner-less June night, and told a story of how during rehearsals the actors all wanted to relax on the royal mattress in the center of the stage.

He reminded that is a complete no-no in the culture of Cuba, where mothers scold their kids for sitting on the bed "in street clothes."

Carlos Diaz appreciates the previous Cuban playwrights to put Racine on stage, like Virgilio Pinera, who died in the 1980s, or Anton Arrufat, still alive.

The director says his company El Publico is baptized after a play by the same name of Garcia Lorca, who declared "doors of the theater never close," and said the group can be reached at: [email protected]

Source Prensa Latina.

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