For the first time in nearly 50 years, an American director and an American playwright were invited to work with a major Cuban theatre company to premiere a play in Cuba. On July 10, the director, Montclair State University Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance Jorge Cacheiro, and the playwright, Jorge Cortiñas, working with Cuba's Rita Montaner Theater Company, premiered Cortiñas’ play, Blind Mouth Singing, at the El Sotano Theater in Havana.
“It was an extraordinary evening—like a Hollywood opening,” Cacheiro wrote from Havana about the premiere. “AP, Reuters, The New York Times, and American Theater Magazine were all here. Press photographers shot film and photos throughout the night including during the show. In attendance were the President and Vice President of Cuba’s National Theater Council as well as many Cuban film, television, and theatre celebrities.”
Although Cacheiro and Cortiñas encountered some setbacks and were on a tight schedule to premiere the play, the fact that they
were allowed to do so at all is significant. It is still quite rare for
Americans to be invited to Cuba to work on such collaborations. Cacheiro notes
that it is also significant to receive support for such an endeavor from a
major U.S. foundation. Earlier in the year, the Andrew Mellon Foundation and
the Theater Communications Group awarded him a grant in support of his work. He also received support from Montclair State University's Global Education Center through a Global Education Grant.
The reviews of the production are not yet in but it appears that the collaboration was a resounding success: Cacheiro has been invited to return to Cuba next year to mount another production. In fact, he has been granted, in his own words, “the highest privileges given to theatre directors—to work outside the Cuban ‘company’ system.” For his next project, he will be given free choice of any actors from across the nation, and may choose any theatre space he deems appropriate for the play.
Read press coverage about the event from the following sources:
AFP article in Diario Madrid (in Spanish)