I come from a country full of culture, flavor, “Cubanism”. I come from a country with millions of problems but where even in the face of need, joy is awakened, the desire to live, where families stay together, although the distance is sometimes infallible. Where the elders of the house are a shelter of wisdom, of time, where the minors listen and remain silent when the grandparents speak.
Where music is the protagonist of your day to day.
I come from a country called Cuba, a country where, as wonderful as it could be, it also becomes a prison of thought, a cradle of hysteria and heartbreak. The creators lose the possibility of expressing themselves freely and the word falls blindly into an abyss of uncertainty. Families separate, become unbalanced and go out looking for an uncertain destiny that sometimes cannot find their whereabouts. Where art is also made as a protest, art for the improvement of the human being and the social being that we are. Today I can say that I am proud to always bring Cuba with me and to shout out loud that I am Cuban because I am not sorry for it, because I admire that country and I need it, despite all the problems.
I always wanted to convey these ideas in some way or another. Since I was a child I put on shows in my living room for my mom’s friends. There was no family reunion, party, visits from friends that were not fed by the best songs of Ana Belen, or Shakira. My mom’s wardrobe would always house the best costume designs and my friends were happy to serve as an ensemble for my creations. Little by little I immersed myself in the world of entertainment, but censorship in Cuba does not help the development of young artists.
Five years for many, perhaps, is a short time, for others it may seem too long. To me, it feels like an eternity. Five years have marked a growth process that had never been awakened in me before. Five years is the time that I have been living in the United States, it is the time that I have worked tirelessly to stay creative, to continue dreaming of art, creation, the guide to improve the way of thinking through my history, and many other immigrants who come to this country to do magic, to enhance the culture.
But with all change comes doubt. What could I bring to a room full of professionals? What knowledge could I provide, when we live in a world surrounded by mistrust, inequality, internet, arrogance and where today’s young people know more about the world than I did at those ages? Where parents send their children to school with the uncertainty of whether they will return home safely.
With all these questions I met Luis Salgado, always working. We have connected with time by working and this time we approach creation by working; because that’s what Luis does, work. Like an industrious ant carrying the weight of creation, of art, he entrusts himself to work and embarks on the best adventures. He takes his art and knowledge everywhere he goes and unloads that giant weight and the responsibility of teaching on shows. Thanks to Luis I had the opportunity to come to Oklahoma to share my roots and build bridges of contact between cultures.
Today I see myself reciting songs, dancing from my seat at the end of the room where the magic happens and I feel so lucky to do what makes me happy: Art. This time not as an actress, but as an associate director, as an entity that breathes and transmits, that delegates and that connects. In a country that did not see me born, but that opened its doors to me in the best way I could imagine. I feel fortunate, in addition to sharing this experience with Luis, who always seeks to enchant the viewer from creation, seeks to create a theater with a very defined purpose: to be better as a person.
It was very difficult for me to understand my presence in this scene (let’s call it “continuous theater post-covid 2022”) is precisely my cultural background. It is inevitable to question “how” such a small island in the middle of the ocean can influence culture in the world. Where I come from and the stories I bring with me are what makes me unique; and I discovered that by being part of this production.
I think of myself, as a child, with the problems of a closed society, without meaning, without social understanding, and I keep asking myself millions of questions about the young people of our days. Do these teenagers know their idiosyncrasies? Do they know where they come from? Are they even interested in knowing about their backgrounds? They never ask “why”? Why are we here? They have an inner emptiness that they don’t know how to fill. Are they interested in knowing how to clarify their theories? Where is this generation of young people who are not interested in their origins going to? At the same time I wonder where the depth lies? Exists? Where does the lack of interest come from? What times are we living that work no longer means anything? When I write “work” I think of the job, the hard work, the idea of fighting for what you most want, the search. Where do we come from, where are we going to? Does it even matter anymore? Why are we still stuck in the idea of perfection?
We Have to learn how to listen. We’re living in a society where people don’t know how to really listen, pay attention to the other and then feel compassion.
But then I look up and see these young creators who are going to go out and conquer the world, with the experience of having worked with someone like Luis, who understands the human being as an entity and how to use it to create Art with meaning, with “Bomba ”, with “sandunga”, and my heart fills with hope.
Studying theater has saved me on many occasions. In my college years I was able to explore deeper and deeper the most intimate intentions of art. But the search does not end there. How to live with my training and how to use it to improve as an artist every day? Because I am an artist, and as an artist I feel every second of my existence and my role in it as a human being that gravitates and affects other beings around us.
There’s hope, there’s a second in which I come back to where we are now and how fortunate I am to be here, to be sharing this space with these kids. To be contributing to their development as human beings. I feel so lucky to be a little part of the process that is guiding them through the path in life where theater can heal, where theater is everything and it can save us.
Art modifies, teaches, transforms but it becomes bigger when it is shared. Perhaps I am an inveterate dreamer, but I have always thought and continue to believe that through theater we can create a better world.
What do you think?