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December 2009
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New multimedia show hits old Havana
By LINDA MACK, Special to the Star Tribune
Last update: December 20, 2009 – 12:32 AM

HAVANA – The excitement was palpable outside Havana's Teatro Mella two
weeks ago as a crowd waited for the doors to open. "The Closest Farthest
Away," an unprecedented collaboration between Cuban and American
artists, was premiering at the prestigious Festival for New Latin
American Cinema.

The driving force behind this artistic venture: 30-year old
Minneapolis-born composer Sage Lewis.

In the production, American actors appear live onstage with filmed Cuban
actors in a story that unpeels the Romeo-Juliet relationship between
Amante, an American scientist, and Ana, a Cuban doctor.

"We're not star-crossed lovers. We're ocean-crossed lovers," says Amante.

Amante can't leave his job and American way of life to live in Cuba. Ana
can't leave her aging father — although her nosy neighbor says she should.

Video projections on three screens plus a TV monitor that shows onstage
action create mesmerizing visual layers. Music by Lewis and Cuban
musicians enlivens the story. At one point, the scene shifts from two
rappers on a bench in Los Angeles to Latin America's popular hip-hop
group Doble Filo performing in a Havana alley.

Lewis' love affair with Cuba began when he studied jazz piano and
drumming there 11 years ago. In 2005, he founded Project Por Amor with
his Minneapolis friend Peter Jensen, his fellow Oberlin student and
future wife, Aleigh, and Cuban arts administrator Daisy Diaz. The goal
was to develop a Cuban-American collaboration that would leap political

Lewis recruited fellow Cal Arts graduate students, American and Cuban
writers and production people, and support from American foundations and
the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs to get the idealistic
project off the ground.

The Miami Herald called the production groundbreaking "artistically,
politically and technologically."

New multimedia show hits old Havana | (20 December 2009)

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