The Cuban Cultural Center of New York and Teatro Columna present Virgilio Piñera’s “Electra Garrigó” directed by Leyma López on the Center’s YouTube channel, Friday-Sunday, June 26-28, 2020. FREE
Electra is a classic Greek tragic character who avenged her father’s murder by killing her mother. “Electra Garrigó” is considered to represent the beginning of modern Cuban theatre. This production is directed by New York-based, Cuban director Leyma López.
The show was originally planned for Teatro LATEA in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, but was reimagined as a virtual presentation in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Friday, June 26, 2020 at 8pm, YouTube
- Saturday, June 27, 2020 at 8pm, YouTube
- Sunday, June 28, 2020 at 3pm, YouTube
Electra is a Greek tragic character in stories by ancient Greek playwrights Sophocles and Euripedes. She is a vengeful woman who arranges the murder of mother in revenge for the murder of her father.
In psychology, the Electra complex represents a woman’s desire to destroy and replace her mother, the Oedipus complex represents a man’s desire to destroy and replace his father.
They say “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” and so Electra is a very popular dramatic character. The saying is so true that it’s almost funny – except when she is angry at you.
Virgilio Piñera wrote the play in 1941. He set Sophocles’ “Electra” in modern Cuba with elements of Cuban culture such as cockfights, papaya fruit and the classic Cuban song “Guantanamera.” He recast the corrupt King Agamemnon as a disgusting bourgeois.
Looking back, we see how Piñera foretold the Cuban Revolution (1953-1959). Great art often arrives by chance at the moment when it is really needed by society.
The was first staged in Havana, Cuba in 1948, five years before the start of the Cuban Revolution. The audience hated it. They weren’t ready for modernism and were upset that a beloved Greek tragedy had been turned on its head.
The play was abandoned, but found new life during the Cuban Revolution. It was restaged in Havana in 1958. Now Cubans were angered by the corruption of Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista and audiences loved the theatrical idea of killing the old king.
After the Cuban Revolution, the play became a symbol of revolutionary spirit in Castro’s government.
There are elements of absurdity in the play which gets us into Caribbean humor. Caribbean people, and Cubans especially have suffered a lot. We have had to free ourselves from slavery, from the Spanish, from the Americans, and then from our own corrupt leaders.
You can cry yourself to death, so our experience has taught us to laugh at life. In hard times, it’s the only way to survive. Cubans are survivors.
Ultimately the Cuban government blacklisted Piñera because they couldn’t stand his honesty and he was gay. The play came back again in the 1980s and is now considered to be the very beginning of modern Cuban theatre.
Leyma López is currently Resident Director at Repertorio Español, New York City’s Spanish-language repertory theatre. She is a young creative who is doing great work in New York. I would see this play just because she directs.
Thoughtful Theatre for Our Moment in History
This story is about the young generation overthrowing the old. Our country, the United States, is living through such a moment right now.
Through Black Lives Matter, young people are rejecting the racist attitudes of their parents. The generation in power in Washington keeps fighting the battles of fifty years ago (Civil Rights), one hundred and fifty years ago (U.S. Civil War) and two hundred and fifty years ago (slavery in the U.S.).
Systemic racism paints Blacks, Latins, Indigenous, Asians, LGBTs and Women with the same brush. We are all sacrificed at the altar of white supremacy.
Senseless violence is just the tip of the iceberg. The corruption of the older generation needs to be taken down and replaced. In the United States, we do that by voting.