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Tuesday, July 21, 1998 Published at 18:16 GMT 19:16 UK


World: Americas

Raising the curtain on Cuba

Another Tempest: Finding a route through censorship

Theatre is providing Cuban actors with a medium to comment on the country's Communist regime.


Tom Gibb reports from Havana: "Contemporary drama"
Although still heavily sponsored by the state, actors are finding their work is not facing the same strict censorship as film, television or radio.

The latest work to make critical comment on modern Cuba is based on William Shakespeare's The Tempest.

And in the cast as Shylock is Pablo Guevara - nephew of the revolutionary Ernesto 'Che' Guevara.

The play, Another Tempest, tells the tale of an idealistic magician who sets sail to found a new world after being deposed in his own country.


[ image: Witches take control of Prospero's ship]
Witches take control of Prospero's ship
But witches and gods summon up a storm to shipwreck the magician Prospero on a Caribbean island.

Undeterred, Prospero sets about creating his own Utopia.

He initiates social experiments and tells the audience: "They thought me a crazy old man incapable of governing."

But the experiments go wrong and as the play progresses Prospero begins abusing his power.

Utopian ideals

The end result is a uniquely modern Cuban adaptation of the Shakespeare original.


[ image: Traditional face of Cuba]
Traditional face of Cuba
Ultimately Prospero's Utopian dream turns to tragedy - a metaphor for modern Cuba, where critics believe that the ideals that swept Fidel Castro to power have also faded.

Cubans face economic hardship, hostility from their US neighbours and government restrictions.

Pablo Guevara says: "We do not offer solutions but our experiences of daily life are inevitably reflected in our plays."

The BBC Correspondent in Havana says the play would never have got past the censor had it been produced for screen or radio.

Theatre is generally not well attended in Cuba. But Another Tempest has received standing ovations in Havana as it uses double meaning to explore Cuba's current predicament.

Nevertheless, the play, which has enjoyed critical acclaim in London, Paris, Hong Kong and Australia, has received no reviews in the Cuban press.



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