Absurd Celebration: The 1st International Festival of Virgilio Piñera’s Theatre

From August 17 through September 22, 2012.

In celebration of the centenary of the birth of controversial Cuban playwright Virgilio Piñera, the University of Miami (UM) Jerry Herman Ring Theatre will present five of his brilliant plays under the title of Absurd Celebration: The First International Festival of Virgilio Piñera’s Theatre. The plays are produced by a combination of national and international companies and UM Department of Theatre Arts. Absurd Celebration has been chosen as the kick-off event for Taking Flight: The Year of the Humanities and the Arts at the University of Miami.

August 17 – 19, 2012
Aire Frío / Cold Air. Argos Teatro (Cuba). Director: Carlos Celdrán
Internationally renowned director, Carlos Celdrán, comes to the U.S. for the first time with his version of Virgilio Piñera’s masterpiece. We see the Romaguera family for a dazzling period of twenty years obsessed with their frustrations and dreams. The protagonist, Luz Marina, is struggling to make ends meet due to their family’s dire economic condition. Art, filial relationships, marital conflicts, and the heat, always the heat, are some elements of this play that, although written 50 years ago, continues to be relevant nowadays.

August 24 – 26, 2012
El juego de Electra / Electra’s Play. Mephisto Teatro and Artes y Producciones Artísticas (Spain). Director – Liuba Cid
Based on Virgilio Piñera’s classic Electra Garrigó, the play that marks Cuba’s entrance to Modernism, Liuba Cid’s version brings to Miami a Cuban-Spanish cast of stars which includes Strawberry and Chocolate’s Vladimir Cruz as Agamemnon. Centered on the play’s classic myth, this version underscores seduction and the psychological, sociological and human depth of its main characters. The non-realist staging, however, is stylized by the avant-garde theatrical languages of Virgilio’s times.

August 31 – Sept 2, 2012
Los Siervos / The Serfs. Teatro de la Luna (Cuba). Director – Raúl Martín
After three sold-out performances of Delirio Habanero last October at the Miami Dade County Auditorium, Teatro de la Luna returns to Miami with Los siervos / The Serfs. Written in 1955 as a mockery of the false ideology of Soviet Communism, it is an anti-bourgeois farce that derides hierarchies, dictatorships, and the many uses and abuses of power that determine human conduct. Its director takes advantage of absurdist techniques, singing and dancing to bring us a brilliant and funny play that from stage design to acting techniques is far from the realism we are used to seeing in the contemporary American stage.

September 7 – 9, 2012
Una caja de zapatos vacía / An Empty Shoe Box. E. G. Productions (Miami). Director – Eloy Ganuza
Twenty-five years after the world premiere in Miami, Eloy Ganuza brings to the stage a new version of Piñera’s classic about power relationships. Three characters rehearse the transfer of power to the mightiest. This new production highlights the interconnections between gender, sexuality and politics through the use of black humor, music and dance.

September 14 – 22, 2012
Carrying Water in a Sieve: an evening of two one acts: You Always Forget Something and False Alarm. UM Jerry Herman Ring Theatre (Miami). Director – Henry Fonte
Translation by Kate Eaton           
Produced by the University of Miami’s Department of Theatre Arts and Jerry Herman Ring Theatre, these two delightful one-act comedies highlight Piñera’s playful sense of humor. The first, You Always Forget Something, is a fanciful comedy about four eccentric women who try to make order out of a capricious society, but by doing so they create chaos, disorder, and mayhem.  The other, False Alarm, hilariously portrays the predicament of a man charged with murder who struggles to save his crumbling sanity in the face of a demented widow and an irrational judge.  Both short plays exemplify Piñera’s unique writing style and his wonderfully absurd sense of humor.

All performances are at UM’s Jerry Herman Ring Theatre; Friday and Saturday shows are at 8 p.m.; Sunday shows are at 5 p.m. Tickets are $20 for general admission and $15 for students and seniors. There is also a discounted Festival Package that includes admission to all five plays. Festival Packages are $75 for general admission and $60 for students and seniors. To buy tickets, or for more information, call the box office at 305.284.3355 or purchase online at www.miami.edu/ring.

In addition to the performances, there will be a three-day international symposium called “Sexual and Cultural Politics in Virgilio’s Theater” at the University of Miami Wesley Gallery, Aug. 31 to Sept. 2, and an exhibit of Piñera’s materials at the University of Miami’s Cuban Heritage Collection at the Richter Library from August 15 to December 15.

About Virgilio Piñera
Virgilio Piñera Llera (1912-1979) is one of Latin America’s most important playwrights. He is credited for having brought modernism to Latin American theatre and for having written the first theatre of the absurd play. He lived in Argentina for 12 years, where he befriended writers such as Jorge Luis Borges and Witold Gombrowicz, and collaborated with the literary magazines Sur (Buenos Aires) and Orígenes (La Habana). He died in Cuba, ostracized for his misunderstood creativity, his homosexuality, and his unprejudiced and irreverent personality. As the consummate artist and rebel, Virgilio has become a symbol for the quest of artistic freedom and renovation of styles in literature, the visual arts, and mass media.

Absurd Celebration at the Ring Theatre
1312 Miller Drive
Coral Gables, FL 33124
305.284.3355
www.miami.edu/ring

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