Cremata Stages His Play on the Internet / 14ymedio, Juan Carlos Cremata
Posted on January 20, 2016
Juan Carlos Cremata, the censored playwright, is publishing on the web a
brief monologue on authoritarianism and censorship. Translator’s note:
“The President” in the monologue is not the president of the country,
but rather of the State organization in charge of the theater.
The President’s Monologue
By Juan Carlos Cremata
The scene is a meeting room. Only a sofa, some chairs, a large armchair.
The president enters talking on her cellphone. She is a woman of an
uncertain age, elegantly dressed, but not exaggeratedly so, almost
casually. Her gestures are tough, energetic, with a certain diplomatic
nuance, but always very tense.
President: No, no. Don’t worry. I’ll call you. Let me get this over
with, I can’t take it any more. Yes, yes, the minister knows, of course!
He supports me. If not, how could I take this measure? That [with a
certain irony] “artist” has gotten too insolent. And it’s time for us to
stop him. Wait. [She goes to the door she came in by and orders] Raisa!
Tell all the vice presidents I want them here! Right now! And the
specialists from every department too! Get Valdes Malo and Liudmila, the
advisor, to come too [She continues her cellphone conversation but adds]
Oh, and bring coffee for everyone. But for me a cup of tea, or
chamomile. Good and strong. [She explains to the cellphone] I have a
terrible headache, ever since we saw that show last Saturday, it hasn’t
quit. No, no. Don’t worry. I’ll fix it myself today. [Pause] I’ll call
you later. Yes, yes. When you finish the news broadcast, I’ll ring and
tell you. And [with the same irony] that “disagreeable character” is
coming here. I’ll let you go, everyone has to be here.
She hangs up and arranges things a little. She puts the armchair across
from a specific chair and settles herself comfortably. She looks in a
large briefcase, takes out a datebook and opens it to make some notes.
The subordinates begin to enter. One in a checked shirt, another in a
striped T-shirt, and third in a short-sleeved guayabera. They all carry
something to write with and their faces are circumspect. A specialist
also enters, with glasses and dyed purple hair. She is a little affected
in her mannerisms. Almost ridiculous. Another comes later. He is a young
man in a Che T-shirt. He is going to sit in the chair the president put
in front of her when a warning from his boss stops him.
President: No, no, no. That chair is for [with the now customary
disdain] the “artist.” I want him right in front of me so I can see the
expression on his face. Find another chair. [To everyone] And before the
“aforementioned” comes through the door, I have to tell you something.
[With a certain authoritarianism] I do not want to hear any more
comments in the hallway about my potentially leaving this post, because
of a rumor, I don’t know where it came from, that I want to go to
Venezuela because they are going to make my husband a correspondent for
Telesur. Don’t let anyone get that idea. Because I am going to continue
here. Leading you. On the front line. This is the post assigned to me by
the Party. If tomorrow it is the Basic Industry job, we’ll go there. But
this is what I have to defend today. And I am going to do it until I’m
given another mission. Is that clear? Secondly, I will deal with this
alone. I want to say, when this “problem person” comes through the door,
I am not going to listen to any comments. From any of you! No one needs
to add anything. And if there is any doubt, we’ll settle it later. Did
you tell Liudmila to come down?
Suddenly the Artist enters. Clearly in a different mood than everyone
else present. Not better, not worse, just very distinct, different. As
if he does not fit in that environment. The President assumes an even
more arrogant air. She rises to welcome him.
President: How’s it going? Come, come. We were expecting you. [She
orders from the door] Raisa, don’t disturb us! [She turns and with her
hand points to the chair facing her armchair] Please, be so kind as to
The Artist sits at the center. Everyone looks surprised. The President
returns to her place.
President: Liudmila didn’t come down? [Almost without pause] Fine, it
doesn’t matter, we’ll start without her. We won’t take too much time on
this. [To the Artist] Look, I’ll get straight to the point. It is
important that you understand that we greatly respect your work. We have
followed you for a long time. Even from when were at the Youth Cadre
School… [she stops talking for a moment and changes her attitude] you
have done so much, dear heart. So much and for so long. And we have let
you do it. But that’s good now. I think now is the time to stop. And you
I have felt betrayed, mocked and even wounded to the depths of my
feelings. Because here we have put our complete faith in the work you
were preparing. And suddenly, we saw “it,” what you staged last
Saturday. And there was no level of artistic metaphor. The language was
poor, direct, reactionary and vulgar. But worst of all is the frank
mockery of the historical leader of our Revolution. A complete lack of
respect for a person who has done so much for us in our country. And who
is now very sick, poor man. And this is something we can’t allow! Not
me, not any of us here. [She looks at everyone.] Isn’t that right? [They
all nod their heads.]
So, in the name of the freedoms we have achieved over the years for our
theater movement, we feel obliged to censor your show. If you want, we
will explain it to the actors, we will issue a public note, I don’t
know. And it doesn’t matter to me that we have spent a lot of money on
the production, and on all the publicity. Or that you have spent so many
months of rehearsing and so much work in the preparation. As it stands,
this production has no possibility of being changed. And it cannot
continue. Do you have something to add?
The artist looks at everyone without understanding what he just heard.
Some avoid his gaze. They look at the ceiling as if they were looking
for answers. He raises his arms a little bit, almost as if he were
asking for mercy. And with that he gets up and leaves. Everyone is stunned.
President [speaking to the Che T-shirt): You! Prepare an article with
enough theoretical foundation that explains everything that happened,
our rationale and that the production is cancelled. [To the one with
affected mannerisms] Draft a note for me as soon as possible to publish
the ban. Very brief. Without a lot of details. The less explanation the
better. [To the striped shirt] Valdes Malo, find the Ministry’s attorney
to begin drafting a resolution that dissolves this damn theater group
and ends any chance that this “harmful agent” will continue directing
theater in this country. I will inform the minister. Don’t lose any
time. We have to act quickly. The enemy is lurking here. Among us. On
all sides. And we must attack.
They depart quickly and leave her alone. She approaches the stage,
triumph on her face. Music with heroic overtones plays but stops
abruptly at the insistent ringing of a cellphone. She answers.
President: Tell me, my life [pause]. No, no, everything’s fine [another
pause]. Not one word. What could I say? This time we’re done with him!
[She changes her tone, sounds more desperate] Have you heard anything
Then her face is flooded with deep frustration. She goes to the door and
President: Raisa, where is the tea, please? I need it yesterday.
She drops crestfallen into the armchair as the curtain falls. Applause
without much emotion. They are the same characters forever. The infinite
and constant comedy. Such is the theater in today’s Cuba.
Source: Cremata Stages His Play on the Internet / 14ymedio, Juan Carlos
Cremata | Translating Cuba –