“Tell me about your mother”, was the request of journalist Ignacio Ramonet to Fidel
Author: Fidel Castro Ruz | email@example.com
August 12, 2018 18:08:16
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
She brought into the world seven children, all born in that house, always assisted by a rural midwife. There was never and could never be a doctor there, it did not exist in all that remote region. No one tried so hard to get her children to study, she wanted for them what she didn’t have. Without her, I, who always felt the pleasure of studying, would still be functionally illiterate today. My mother, even if she didn’t say it every minute, loved her children. She had character, she was brave and self-sacrificing. He knew how to bear with integrity and without hesitation the sufferings that some of us involuntarily caused her.
She accepted the Agrarian Reform and the distribution of those lands, which she undoubtedly loved, without bitterness.
Extremely religious in her faith and beliefs, which I have always respected, she found comfort in her sorrow as a mother, and she also accepted with motherly love the Revolution for which she suffered so much, without having had the slightest possibility of knowing the history of humanity and the deepest causes that the events she experienced so closely in Cuba and in the world originated, due to her origin as a humble poor peasant woman.
She died on August 6, 1963, three and a half years after the triumph of the Revolution.
By Ana María Domínguez Cruz
Posted: Tuesday 07 August 2018 | 09:06:12 PM
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
When it comes to a haircut, a bold nail polish or a bold piece of clothing, it’s not as worrisome, because of the ephemeral nature of fashion, in the end. The alarm is triggered when health risks are evident when assuming styles and habits that far from guaranteeing beauty, touch us with danger.
Several blogs dedicated to fashion and pseudo beauty, as well as photos, have multiplied in social networks, promoting a series of aesthetic fashions, based on extreme thinness and non-professional criteria. Examples: the bikini bridge, thigh gap, diastema, belly-button challenge and ab-crack, among others.
During the summer, in particular, the fashion of slimming the belly until the rubber on the bottom of the bikini becomes so tight between the hips has spread so far. The textile piece then forms a bridge over the navel that can only be achieved when adolescent girls practice arbitrary diets without any balance or with excessive fasting periods.
When we talk about a thigh gap, it is because we also test our body’s strength by trying to make the upper part of the thighs so firm and thin that it leaves a clear space between them and the pubic area. Specialists warn that this is very dangerous, because, to obtain this separation of the calves from their inner faces, depends on the anatomy of the hips and not on the amount of muscle or fat in the leg, girls often resort to anorexic behaviors that put their nutritional needs at risk.
The furrow of separation between the two muscles of the abdomen in a well-marked way is another tendency between adolescents and adults, called the “ab-crack”. They do not take into account the risk of obsessive hyper-musculation from unbalanced protein intake, or in some cases, from abuse of vitamin supplements and other less-desirable substances.
As if that weren’t enough, there are plenty of images on Instagram and Facebook of teenagers who want to show off their slender bodies, running one arm behind their backs to try to touch their bellybuttons with their hands, while with their other hand they take on a selfie. The belly button challenge also certainly flirts with dangerous diets and eating disorders, as does the so-called collarbone challenge, another challenge for teenagers who want to demonstrate that they can fit a string of coins in the gap between their collarbone and their neck.
For both the female and male sexes, the diastema is now spreading as a fashion, which is nothing more than the search for the separation of the upper denture into two halves after a widening of the central teeth. It is then valued to undergo an expensive dental operation to wear what is not naturally available.
In the area of cosmetic surgery, we note with concern the fact that some teenagers between the ages of 13 and 16 want to undergo labiaplasty, an aesthetic operation that seeks to resize the vaginal lips and leave them shorter, more even or more turgid.
The followers of this surgery for aesthetic purposes consider preventive reasons regarding hygiene or pain when having sexual intercourse, as well as psychological reasons when the lips are asymmetrical and when sexual acceptance and self-esteem disorders are associated, but what is alarming is that this type of operation is not recommended before the age of 18, since the vaginal lips during adolescence are in full growth phase.
Also not without risks, and also associated with high prices is the pubic lifting, another practice used by girls and boys who want to attract more from a sexual point of view to their partners. They are exposed to lightening the adipose tissue of the Mount of Venus in women and the lower abdomen in men to rejuvenate the urogenital area.
How many wrong associations with beauty! Imitating aesthetic models that are far removed from what is healthy only shows the vulnerabilities that those who do not feel completely satisfied with their physique and way of being suffer during adolescence.
It is a complex period in life, say psychologists and sociologists, because adolescents need to build their identity and value the opinion that others have of them. However, this is the best time to alert them to the health consequences of certain behaviors and, above all, to the importance of accepting themselves and cultivating what may be invisible to the eyes, but which is ultimately the most valuable.
By Israel Hernández Álvarez
July 28, 2018.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann for CubaNews.
One person was reported seriously injured among the 30 injured in the traffic accident that occurred at dawn this Saturday at kilometer 327 of the National Highway, belonging to the province of Sancti Spíritus.
The incident occurred when a Yutong bus went off the road and its driver, trying to incorporate it into the road, lost control of the vehicle, which overturned.
The general hospital Camilo Cienfuegos received the injured, some of whom received first aid at the mother and child hospital in the municipality of Cabaiguán.
Two children are in a state of care and are cared for at the José Martí Provincial Pediatric Hospital.
At noon today, 22 people with minor injuries had already been discharged from the hospital and, after receiving the appropriate treatment and verifying their good state of health, they continued their journey to Havana, the destination of the National Bus Company’s vehicle, which was arriving by freight from Baracoa, in the province of Guantánamo.
Dr. Eduardo Pedrosa Prado, director of the Camilo Cienfuegos Hospital, told ACN that, as in these cases, the Integrated Emergency Medical System was immediately activated and the injured were provided with the necessary resources for their care.
Every four hours, Pedrosa Prado added, we make the visit pass, and in correspondence with the evolution of the patients we will adopt the behavior to follow with them.
Upon learning of the incident, authorities of the Cuban Communist Party, the Government and the Health Ministry in the territory went to the largest health centre in Sancti Spíritus to take an interest in the wounded and their medical care.
This is the fifth massive accident that has taken place this year in the territory of the Spirit, and the second in less than 10 days; the previous one took place in the early hours of last Saturday at kilometer 332, also on the National Highway, in which 37 people were injured.
Author: Félix López
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
We come today to young Alejandro’s third and most complicated paradox: “If not socialism, what do we have left?” It would seem our young man was looking for an exit on the expressway, but I don’t think so since he already made it clear he goes for a cool socialism. Well? Nothing, I can see he wants and needs to know what the non-socialist option has in store for us. And I will answer him without using the worn-out tale of the Big Bad Capitalistic Wolf devouring the Proletarian Little Red Riding Hood.
What’s at stake is a lot more than a remake of a children’s story: history, maybe life itself; our ecology and future; our happiness and existence. Socialism is all that and even more: the sworn enemy of selfishness and inequality, boundless consumption and violence, warmongering and expansionism, drugs and pornography, a lifestyle based on foolishness and glamour… all synonymous with capitalism, designer of a society where –contrary to Martí’s precepts– the more you have to show off, the more valuable you are; where it’s not how you think but how well you’re dressed and what brand your cell phone is what matters; where people’s worth is measured by their fortune –ergo, the have-nots are not people– and the ID cards have been replaced with credit cards; where a mall is more worshipped than a university; where, according to Eduardo Galeano, to praise a flower you say, “it’s so beautiful you’d think it’s plastic!”
If not socialism, Alejandro, barbarism would be the only option left to us. I’m sure that capitalism would waste no time in presenting us with an oasis of spotless showcases and the mythical junk food franchises would compete for the best spots downtown where they could create a mirage of lights and affluence, as they did in the former USSR… and all the while that artificial bubble would be surrounded in a flash by a poor area with no schools but teeming with gangs; with no jobs but many prostitutes; with nothing to dream about but lots of drugs to forget that fact; with no quality lifestyle but the required TV set to sell you all kinds of comforts… and you bet I’m not even mentioning the terrible dangers fueled by deep-seated hatred.
There’s another, simpler and more realistic answer to Alejandro’s question: you either make sure you become an enterprising optimist and strive to build a cooler socialism –so you can keep your freedom and at the same time have a better and happier life– or risk your neck at the Russian roulette in a casino and end up finding out that in the realm of “every man for himself” even your smile can be mortgaged. It’s no coincidence that Silvio Rodríguez, who has traveled around the world and gives us through his music a kaleidoscope of life, voiced his support of a perfectible socialism in his capacity of Deputy to our National Assembly of the People’s Power, making it clear that we can improve ours and we must do it by ourselves.
President Raúl Castro warned in a recent speech that he had not been elected to restore capitalism in Cuba and invited all Cubans to discuss what kind of socialism we want. If we ever lose the gift of participation the Revolution will have lost its sense of direction. Hence the importance that we, our parents and our children, that is, three or more generations of Cubans –in one of which Alejandro belongs– take part in this get-together and engage in a collective reflection free of slogans and mechanistic attitudes.
I feel certain that our socialist values will come out stronger as a result. Not long ago, on the occasion of the Cuban Revolution’s 50th birthday, a number of young intellectuals were invited to talk about it and the realization of the socialist project. What follows is just a thumbnail sample of their comments sufficient to understand how necessary and comprehensive is the debate awaiting us:
Julio César Guanche: “In 1959, the Cuban Revolution gave birth to a beautiful specimen of utopian socialism and implemented on Cuban soil a significant part of Rousseau’s great ideal: universal citizenship, a sovereign society, and social justice. Fifty years later, Cuba realized that a revolution is not the ultimate goal, as every thing conquered must be re-conquered and changing with the times is the only way to move on”.
Ariel Dacal: “We must publicly discuss how we understand socialism and what to do to make it more effective in its quest for an anti-capitalist alternative, which entails as much social justice as possible. People’s education, culture, technical ability, feelings and political knowledge are underrated and in some cases wasted. In order to reverse that situation we must make qualitative changes in the way people get involved in the management and control of their daily individual and public life, both as workers and community members”.
José A. Fernández: “Our Socialism has fought against poverty, capitalism, imperialism and its worst manners –war and terrorism– as well as against the immobility of state bureaucracy, political ignorance, the opportunism of the alleged extremists, the tiny internal opposition and the strong external opposition, the ghost of the ‘siege’ that prevents us from trusting our own potential to be freer… We have contributed the beauty of a whole people of women and men forged with blood and fire, blockade and militia, lack of resources and a wealth of wisdom and faith in the justice we have earned”.
I hope that both young Alejandro and those who read these comments found in them food for thought, issues to debate, new questions and some answers. Many people deem a discussion about socialism in present and future tense a thorny subject. Rest assured that if we do it in public, using a pro-positive key instead of drawing up an inventory of problems, we will no longer be treading on waste land. The forest is crawling with snipers.
We have to keep creating and learning if we want to make progress and be better. With the energy of our people and Fidel’s endless supply of creative thoughts we have done what once seemed impossible: we saved socialism.
Author: Félix López
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
Why does socialism seem more concerned about ideology than about aesthetics?, young Alexander asked, his question undoubtedly originating with his concept of a cool socialism: a just, nice society, estranged from capitalism’s “every-man-for-himself” laws and free from any ugliness, sloppiness, vulgarity, mediocrity, bad taste and boredom for good measure. To young people, “being cool” means hip, fashionable and graceful, the kind of synonym Alejandro chooses for his life.
Let’s come to the grips with his poser. The praxis, to be sure, ended up leaning to the ideological side, but I think the idea of favoring ideology over aesthetics never entered the mind of the socialist theoreticians or the letter of the classics. Lenin, for one, warned us that disseminating ugliness and annoyance was by no means good revolutionary communication. A case in point is Cuba, where plays, movies, books and museum exhibitions became real crowd-pullers following the democratization of culture and seeing a worker enjoying a classical ballet or a scientist shaking her hips like one possessed to the rhythm of a popular band is no longer surprising.
Cuban culture is the perfect example that most people want socialism free of any gaudiness. Many of us brag about the criollo, Martí-oriented and Caribbean nature of our Revolution without overlooking the benefits and influence –both positive and negative– of the Krim TV sets, the Moskvich cars, the Hanka and Danka cartoons, the incomprehensible jokes of Ferdinand the Clown, and the “proletarian chivalry” clichés. Or the avalanche of luggage bursting at the seams with bad taste that our relatives in Miami are bringing here as we speak. Or the blue jeans with golden dragons embroidered on the pockets that a Cuban state purchaser –a très unchic one, by the way– brings from overseas to supply our department stores.
Alejandro, make no mistake: Marx and Lenin dreamed about one thing, but the final outcome after the [mis]interpretations was another matter altogether. Let me give you one example: in the months following the triumph of the Russian revolution, the avant-garde currents were deemed a natural complement to revolutionary policy. Constructivism flourished in the visual arts, while poetry and music praised all non-traditional and modernist forms… until one day that the illustrated bureaucrats let their criticism run free, saying that impressionism, surrealism, Dadaism, cubism and other modern styles were full of subjectivist principles –which crashed head-on with dialectical materialism’s objective aspirations– and ruled it was “bourgeois art”.
That’s how the curtains of cultural diversity were drawn and socialist realism came on stage, aesthetic flaws and all, convinced that only the topics touching on politics and the working class were worth the effort. Then the USSR exported it most other socialist states, where the doctrine took on various degrees of significance… only to see its eagerness to describe people’s simple life –with Maksim Gorky’s work as one major exponent– become swamped in a dogmatic and exclusionist vision of socialism that eventually harmed the mission of its culture.
It’s a commonly held, albeit wrong, belief –often used as a justification– that a poor, underdeveloped country can’t afford to think about aesthetics when it has so many other fish to fry, namely to feed, shelter and clothe its population. A comfortable economic and financial situation makes everything easier, I have to give you that, but at the same time I flatly refuse to second such ode to misfortune. My grandma used to say something became a canon at home: “Poor but honorable; patched but clean”. Our greatness lies in surmounting that crest of hardship and being different.
In my previous comment I asked: “How much longer do we have to wait until our builders, food service workers and everyone else in charge of making people’s life happy rather than miserable become steeped in the excellence we have achieved in research, sports and culture?” Well, here’s another question: how did we manage to remain immune from the unsightly contamination of socialist realism and even oppose it with a recognized movement of graphic designers, filmmakers with a soul of their own and protest singers who leaped over the bureaucratic censors and became a poetic monument to Cuban culture?
Luckily, we don’t have to go out in search of the answer. Cuba has every reason to take pride in its indigenous culture, its own creations, and its people’s commitment to the Revolution and boldness to conquer the bureaucrats’ Golgotha and inherent ability to come up with a problem for every solution. Dialectics, participation, authenticity and our criollo cleverness… those are the best antidote to sloppiness, banality and laziness. Aren’t the New Song Movement’s lyrics cool or what? Who says Cuban baseball or the way [110-meter hurdles racer] Dayron Robles runs are not cool? How to deny that the children of La Colmenita are not cool on stage? So why should we deny Alejandro the chance to make our socialism cooler?
Coming back to the opening question above, I call attention upon something we have neglected. We all know that socialism in our Island is essentially just, friendly and remarkably human. It’s the wrapping what we have to solve yet, a problem not always dependent on solvency, as we’re also haunted by subjective ghosts. But it’s not too late to ward them off, though. Let’s stick a moral bill on every ugly, rundown and forgotten spot of our environment which says: “Wanted: creativity, solutions, gall, good ideas, diligence, shame, devotion and, why not, plenty of cool.
(To be continued…)
By Graziella Pogolotti
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
The large-scale tourism industry has a relatively recent history. Its initial impulse came after World War II. The rise of left-wing movements and the pressure exerted by powerful trade unions led many countries to pass laws making paid rest compulsory. For many sectors of the middle classes, the possibility of enjoying holidays was opened up.
At the same time, numerous publications disseminated the cultural values located in Third World countries. Appropriate marketing operations designed tours to famous places for destinations that were docile to the indications of trained guides. The trip was no longer an adventure. Everything was planned in advance. Back home, the tourist would not remember much of the experience lived in the pyramids of Teotihuacán, but would arrive with a bunch of trinkets billed as souvenirs.
The traveler, on the other hand, is moved by the search for the unusual. He’s going to go to some of the most remote places in the cities. You will observe the human landscape without disdaining typical foods in some modest restaurants. I confess to having belonged to this species in my younger years. When I couldn’t afford the pennies to take on bigger adventures, I decided to start at home.
At the time, I had just finished my college degree. The studies of Art History had revealed to me the importance of our colonial legacy. I obtained the assistance of two compañeras to launch us on the adventure of discovering Trinidad. We stayed in a room on the corner of Media Luna and Desengaño. The names of the streets, such as the Habaneras of Amargura, Mercaderes, lficios or la Muralla have always exerted on me a remarkable power of poetic evocation. But the Trinitarian atmosphere of those days was far from what we know today.
There were the houses of yesteryear in the midst of an impressive misery. Barefoot and ragged, the children roamed the streets, sometimes reduced to begging. The ruin of the Valle de los Ingenios plunged the city into a poverty in which some families tried to preserve the dignity of the past.
It’s been a few years. In the 60’s of the last century, in the middle of the fight against the bandits, a traveling library went along the road between Cienfuegos and Trinidad. It offered book loans for children and adults. I wanted to know the experience in a direct way. The newly-literate peasants encouraged their children to acquire the habit of reading. On that occasion, I met a unique character.
Carlos Joaquín Zerquera was one of those local historians who narrated countless anecdotes of characters from the past. He did it so neatly that his murky marriage intrigues seemed to be happening in the contemporary world. His energies were focused on the effort to rescue the Brunet Palace in order to turn it into the Romantic Museum. Resources were scarce.
Nicolás Chao, Party secretary in the region, who also sponsored the creation of the Grupo Escambray, led by Sergio Corrieri, was able to listen to the Trinitarian researcher’s homily. Little by little something was done. Recognition of the need to preserve our heritage was beginning to take shape. We did not know, in those distant 1970s, that we were investing in a future tourism that would become one of our options for economic growth. Trinidad has been reborn and has recovered its best artisan tradition.
The traveler can enjoy the uniqueness of its urban environment. Let us take great care of your specific features. Let us not fall into the mimetic temptation of Cancunizing it.
On holiday days, we can try the adventure of discovering our country. Sometimes, you don’t have to walk very far to stumble upon the surprise of the unusual. In the Havana municipality of Cotorro is the Church of Santa María del Rosario, a rural place devoured yesterday by the galloping growth of the capital. Nicolás de la Escalera, the oldest painter with a name registered in our history of art left his mark there.
In our small country, there are many corners to be rediscovered. To do this properly, we need to move, relentlessly but steadily, towards a change of mentality. Let’s not confuse the popular with the uncouth. Let us discard the reductionist vision of culture as an ornament and recognize in it the nourishing source of a spirituality that defines our uniqueness, that is, our identity. Managing with intelligence, avoiding the banal commercialization of the peddlers, is a good that can translate into tangible material benefits.
Let us abandon the formal routine of commemorations. Let us make each of them an event open to wider horizons. In these days we have remembered the bicentenary of the San Alejandro foundation.
Let us abandon the formal routine of commemorations. Let us make each of them an event open to wider horizons. In those days we remembered the bicentenary of the foundation of St. Alexander. The history of the Academy was one of light and shadow. The triumph of the Revolution brought about a substantial change by bringing about the emergence of the long-neglected artistic avant-garde. The tribute to the date would be an opportunity to find in our National Museum the work of those who passed through it along with the insurgents who rebelled against the obsolescence of their curricula.
Welcome to the sunny days and the beach, as well as the festivities that animate summer days. Let us also learn to take advantage of the weeks of rest to turn our gaze inward and devote some moments to productive meditation.
Author: Claudia Padrón Cueto
September 24, 2015
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
For the browsing experiences of web users to remain pleasurable in the country, the information strategy of our society must achieve a greater synergy. This is the responsibility of all those who are concerned with the education on the use of Information Technologies.
This past holiday season will probably be remembered as the “wifi summer in Cuba”. Undoubtedly the period was marked by the extension –through this type of connection– of the opportunities for web surfing at 2 CUC’s an hour. And while it is true that the price is still high for most, the wifi is welcomed.
Every day people go to the squares, parks or places with wifi reach to make use of internet navigation services. Many go to make video calls (using IMO) or check their Facebook profiles; while others find –in the wake of the wifi– a way to profit.
This is how it works in the city of Pinar del Rio: At the different access points some young people wait for new arrivals at the park or connection area and immediately offer “one hour of connection for only 1 CUC”, that is, half the official price.
They act as go-between working on commission for a percentage of the total amount collected. They take their customers/users to other persons who use their PCs and cell phones with wireless connection and sell the service to these temporary users.
Connectify Hotspot is a software –one of many– that allows sharing Internet by several users. Of course, in accepting this browsing option the speed and original connectivity potential is reduced, but still it is possible to access the web and even make video calls.
In addition to these agents of shared wifi, and of those others who hoard coupons to then sell them for 75 Cuban pesos [official price 2 CUC = 50 Cuban pesos], this journalist and some close friends were able to confirm the existence of other “merchants” who charge for a simple advice, for example: how to recharge a Nauta account that only requires to enter portal@…, and from this address type the card code.
This is a simple procedure that only takes a few minutes; but lack of knowledge makes some users resort to these “advisers” who take advantage of the inexperience and charge for the service 10 Cuban pesos. Such practices also involve certain risks, because those who offer “help” could even keep the data of the customer (username and password) and then use this information to access their accounts.
There are many who connect without even knowing how to turn on the wifi on their phone or what a browser is, what a web site, a web page or a network profile are. This is simply because without practice there is no possible knowledge. And such lack of knowledge frustrates the browsing experience of some, while others fill their pockets.
It’s been three months after the opening of the areas of wireless access service –indispensable in any modern society—and they are very much appreciated; but still the telecommunications company needs to improve its management so it is not limited only to the signing of contracts. It is also necessary to expand the benefits at the Joven Club [Free Computer Service Facilities] and provide guidance on the use of new technologies to solve the most dissimilar demands and problems of Cuban society in its way to computerization.
Schools should also join in this instruction task considering that today’s students options lead to new tools and benefits, provided by the use of ITs. These options need to be managed with dexterity so that users do not become easy preys to deception and theft.
Author: Germán Veloz Placencia | firstname.lastname@example.org
24 de julio de 2018 22:07:37
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
The trivialization of the art of clowning is a widespread phenomenon in our society, rooted essentially in its conversion into a lucrative business.
Author: Leidys María Labrador Herrera | email@example.com
29 March 2018 20:03:13
A CubaNews translation. Edited by Walter Lippmann.
A unique music sounds and at its rhythm, the picturesque character comes out, dressed in big shoes, colorful clothes, a funny wig or hat, painted face and the unmistakable red nose. He or she stumbles forward, laughs loudly and always has a joke up their sleeve.
Surely, if we were to conduct a survey of the Cuban population about their idea of what a clown is, the descriptions would more or less revolve around the one we presented at the beginning of this report. I can bet that most people would think the question was a little silly because who doesn’t know what a clown is? But this is accompanied by another question: do we really know?
We are not far from the truth when we say that behavior and clothing largely define a clown, but they are only its superficial shell. Behind that peculiar being that we see before us, there are other elements that make up its essence and that, unfortunately, have been diluted in the limbo of having certain acting qualities, some vis comic and the idea] that with that they are already suitable to make people laugh.
However, a deeper approach to this subject allows us to understand that clowning is an art that has become trivialised and commercialised in our society. Many have turned it into a lucrative business, to the detriment of the most important function of the clown: touching human sensitivity.
From the opinion of well-known personalities of Cuban theater and some of the most faithful exponents of this type of acting, Granma approaches the dilemma of the true differences between the clown who is sustained only in the material interest, and the one who starts from the actor’s ethics, the conscious dramaturgy and the need to transmit true messages to the people.
HOW DO YOU BUILD A CLOWN?
It is not necessary to be a theatre specialist to understand that any actor or actress, when she or he plays a role, if she or he does so with responsibility for her or his art and the unavoidable commitment to the audience, is capable of changing her or his skin. During the time that a production lasts, it assumes another life, other conflicts, another reality.
Building a character doesn’t mean it’s anything like him. In other words, it is possible to assume values, ways of acting, norms of behavior, even a temperament that has nothing to do with the actor’s true personality. In the case of the clown, although there must be the same level of responsibility, ethics, and commitment, the clown and the actor are the same person. The one cannot exist without the other.
This is what a man who, like many others, began as a clown for parties and birthdays, but then decided to take a step forward, because he understood the need to dignify such an ancient and vilified art. Perhaps this is the greatest merit of the group he founded and which today has become a paradigm of clowning in Cuba, Teatro Tuyo. Ernesto Parra, its director, knows very well what the birth of a clown is all about.
“Actors in our profession have the ability to approach lives from a character. The actor in the dramatic theater is going to play the role of a doctor and does not necessarily have to have studied medicine, he can play the role of a drunkard and be a teetotaler, but in the case of the clown the difference, which is not tacit, but only the adaptation to this concept of acting, is that yes, we are playing a character who is the clown, but it has been made with the actor’s own characteristics. There is no distance between the character I am going to play and the person I am.
“In any case, the actor who plays a clown, whether it be on a birthday, in a theatre, in a circus… when the performance is over, is once again the normal person who goes home to face his routine. What happens is that this character is constructed from his own psycho-physical characteristics. The mythical example is that of Charles Chaplin, who built a Charlot, the little tramp, through his own experiences.
A similar opinion is shared by young Adrián Bello Suárez, who has carried out all his acting growth in Teatro Tuyo.
“My clown’s name is Belo, and I started to find him after I had been in the group for some time. In fact, I’d say he’s still a long way off. I have drunk from Belo and Belo from me, I could tell you that we are walking hand in hand along the same path. Because that’s what the art of clowning is all about, of finding the clown that we all have inside us which is unique for each person, and building it with your own emotions, feelings…”.
Such experiences show that playing a clown is more than just having a red nose. Perhaps it is from this ignorance that the superficial vision of those who believe that dressing up in colorful costumes and stumbling senselessly is to be a clown.
THE DEFORMATION OF THE REAL CLOWN
The children are seated awaiting the presentation. The birthday boy’s parents are also anxious to see the protagonist who, frankly, has a tight budget The time comes, but there is no music of bugles or cymbals, what begins is the thunderous reggaeton and the clown comes out wagging his waist in an act that has nothing to do with comedy but borders on the obscene.
I’m not saying this is always so. We cannot commit the sin of absolutists and say that all those who today entertain in children’s parties act in this way. But how many of us haven’t had regrettable experiences like that? The saddest thing is that this person continues to do his “job” and we continue to open the doors of birthday parties to him.
NOTE: Sound file is in Spanish:
For Rubén Darío Salazar, director of the “Teatro de las Estaciones” group, this process implies a step backwards when talking about clowning.
“The art of clowning in our region, and in Cuba specifically, has suffered a regression. This is because it is something that many people feel entitled to do without, schooling, without training. They think they can just play the clown without any of that. But the worst part is that people believe it, and they are paid and hired and they cause a distortion in the profession.
“Being a clown has long been an art form looked down upon, and I don’t know why, because we have had in our country people with a powerful history in clowning, like Edwin Fernandez, known as Trompoloco. He was an actor who played the clown with a mixture of impressive lyricism and satire. I believe that this has been lost, it has been deformed, it has been devolved, without any of us noticing that the art of clowning is the new comedy, if we take it seriously, with the discipline and commitment it demands”.
TRIVIALIZATION, A LATENT PROBLEM
Ernesto Parra himself has a similar opinion. He says the trivialization of the art of clowning is a resident problem in today’s Cuba, especially when the real perspective of any actor performing a clown is lost, driven by economic need.
“We cannot say that the art of clowning is made in a single way, nor that it has these or those typical characteristics. The clown genre, according to the master Dario Fo (Italian actor and writer, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature), is the preparation of an artist who becomes a total actor and is the one who transmits, through humor, not as an end but as a means, an emotion, poetry, an idea, tackles a problem. It is not the stereotyped clown, of screams, of colourings, of jumps, of falls, of stumbles. Although they are elements that he uses to construct his dramaturgy, they do not constitute his main objective. That is to say, to take the spectator by the hand to arrive from humor to touch the soul and to move”.
Emptiness, lack of real, direct communication with the public, and in many cases, a total lack of tools to enrich the character, are some of the most common aspects when analyzing this phenomenon of the “multiplication” of clowns. The sharp vision of the master Roberto Gacio, who is a theatre institution in Cuba, allows us to evaluate some of the most notorious weaknesses that these clowns face.
“It is necessary to investigate, deepen, and be in a very serious position to transmit messages, not so much from social reality as from human existence. This, like other phenomena, is also marked by the loss of values, the lack of interest in personal and collective improvement and, of course, the economic factor.
“The way to save the clown’s art is to realize that you have to say things out of sensitivity, out of humanity. The clown and the clown, in general, are also like big children, who talk about serious adult things or children’s things, but with a lot of tenderness”.
Logically, like other similar dilemmas that take place within all artistic expressions, this process cannot be seen as alien to the social context, nor divorced from everyday realities or the way people perceive the world around them. These are aspects to which researcher, theatre critic, and director of the magazine Tablas-Alarcos, Omar Valiño Cedré, attaches great importance.
“There are two different dimensions to the problem. The abundance of clowns, which in reality there are not, should not be seen as excessively pernicious. It is simply an economic reality, in which people who have a certain capacity for animation, entertainment and the world of acting, seek that economic reinforcement for their profession, although they are not necessarily clowns [themselves]; and of course, there is the dimension that Teatro Tuyo and other artistic groups and entities represent, which is the dimension of the real clown, of the clown as a very singular priest of the performing art.
“Being a clown is the greatest thing in the performing arts. A real clown moves an amount of energy, of metaphors, of symbols, of abilities around him that is hardly achievable with any other scenic material. I believe that the challenges are, for all those who want to evolve from one side to the other, to know technically, spiritually and intellectually, what a clown is and how to train. Knowing how to be up-to-date, how to be effective in terms of communication and how to establish new pacts, new links with today’s public that is not the same as it was a few years ago”.
That is precisely the perspective of a group that has managed to fill theatres, to be loved by young and old and become an obligatory reference point whenever there is talk in Cuba of the worthy profession of the clown.
Ricardo Ronquillo Bello, deputy editorial director of our newspaper, was elected on Saturday as the new president of the Union of Cuban Journalists.
Published: Sunday 15 July 2018 | 01:32:49 AM
By Juventud Rebelde
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
In this responsibility, and by decision of the delegates to the meeting, he will be accompanied, as first vice-president, by Rosa Miriam Elizalde Zorrilla, member of the presidency of the trade union organization during the previous period, as well as Ariel Terrero Escalante, director of the International Institute of Journalism José Martí, and Jorge Legañoa Alonso, deputy director of the Cuban News Agency, as vice-presidents.
Raúl Garcés Corra, dean of the Faculty of Communication at the University of Havana; Arleen Rodríguez Derivet, journalist for the television program Mesa Redonda; and Ana Teresa Badía, Angélica Paredes López and Minoska Cadalso Navarro, all from Radio Rebelde, were also elected as non-professional members.