HAVANA | Cuba is the place to be this fall for those who follow the international festival scene. Companies from more than 70 countries in Latin America, Europe, the United States and China are taking part in the 15th edition of Havana’s International Theater Festival, better known as Festival de Teatro de la Habana.
Kicking off on October 25, the festival is organized by the National Performing Arts Ministry of Culture of Cuba. This year, the festival is dedicated to the legendary acting teacher Konstantin Stanislavski, for his technical contribution, his legacy, his aesthetic, his generative inspiration and his transformative impact on Cuban theater.
Appropriately, the festival’s opening producing is a staging of Anna Karenina by the Evgueni Vajtangov State Academic Theater of Russia.
In addition to Havana theaters, parks and squares, the provinces of Pinar del Río, Artemisa, Mayabeque, Matanzas, Villa Clara, Sancti Spiritus, and Cienfuegos will be sub-venues of the festival, which runs until November 3.
According to its official website, the aim of the festival is “to be a space to promote the theatre as an art of resistance, an art that continues to defend the possibility of human exchange.” Visitors to the Cuba will have the opportunity to sign up for workshops and conferences held as part of the festival. One of those conference, according to Noel Bonilla, artistic commissioner of the festival, is a series of lectures on “The policy of social borders in theater and dance today” to be delivered by Benjamin Wihstutz of the Free University of Berlin.
Havana’s venues and spaces in nearby provinces will be filled with theatre for children, theater for adults, puppet theater, exhibitions of photography, posters and documents, books and magazines presentations, theoretical forums and workshops.
Co-produced by the National Council of the Performing Arts, the festival was founded in 1980 as a non-competitive meeting place between Cuban theaters and their counterparts from the rest of the world.
This year’s edition features two U.S. troupes: Cultural Artefactus Project, a non-profit organization, founded in 2008, in the state of Florida, which focuses on literary and theatrical work of Hispanic artists in Miami; and IATI Theater, founded in 2005 by Esther White and Marisol Rozo, which will bring in The Dragons on the Scaffold Company, a movement-based fusion of dance and theater.
According to Julio Cesar Ramirez, the festival’s artistic director of Havana’s International Theatre Festival, “Without noticing, the years have passed, and we have a 15-year-old festival.” Ramirez added that visitors will find an inexhaustible supply of theater from such countries as Argentina, Mexico, Colombia, Russia, Spain, China, Finland, Germany, Italy, Uruguay, United States, Switzerland, Brazil and Denmark. They can also easily spot “the sea, the gorgeous sea” that surround the island. –rg
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