Now in it’s 21st year, The National Aquelarre (Coven) Comedy Festival has carved out a space within the Cuban cultural scene and has created a following with an appetite for what is staged.
In the view of actor Osvaldo Doimeadios, the event is a successor of get-togethers organized at the end of the 1980’s by Seña de Humor and comedy acts performed in the Karl Marx theater by Alejandro Garcia, alias Virulo.
Doimeadios, an acting graduate from the Higher Institute of Art and winner of numerous Cuban Writers and Actors Union awarded Caricatos prizes, recalls that “back then we were fewer groups and solo-acts and the comedy scene was emerging”.
During its two-decade history, the Aquelarre Festival has presented the public with performances not only by Havana acts but also from other provinces such as Caricare from Holguin, Komotu from Guantanamo and Etcetera and La Leña del Humor from Villa Clara.
Diomeadios reflected that, despite having become the single-most important promoter of comedy in Cuba, the festival is in need of some renovation regarding, not only those who perform, but also those who write and direct.
The prestigious actor, who has on various occasions directed both the opening and closing nights of the Aquelarre galas, said that the comedy scene was in need of a shake-up from the perspective of its structure, staging and narrative and he said that the time was right to opt for a broader scope and a new direction, in order to accommodate things not incorporated to date.
In comments made exclusively to The Havana Reporter, Diomeadios added that Cuban comedy had inherited a lot from the comic theater and vernacular of earlier centuries and consequently mockery and a sense of parody are seldom absent from comedy acts.
He also said that, even though Cuban mannerisms had been captured, acts were open to new content, personalities and styles because reality is always a far richer source of material than fiction.
During an August of suffocating temperatures that threatened to break records, the 21st National Comedy Festival offered some refreshing relief on capitol city stages.
Theaters such as the Karl Marx, the Nacional, the Bertolt Brech Cultural Center and the Raquel Revuelta and Adolfo Llaurado halls hosted shows starring the veterans and the vanguard of Cuban comedy.
Tribute was paid during Aquelarre 2015 to the legacy of renowned Cuban actor Carlos Ruiz de la Tejera, who passed away on July 3 this year. His acting style was rewarded with prizes on stages around the world and ensured his place as master of many an acting generation. He is remembered for his cinematic roles in the renowned director Tomas Gutierrez Alea’s The Death of a Bureaucrat and The Twelve Chairs.
A theoretical event entitled “And do you think about comedy?” was held in conjunction with the festival, the principal offering of which was the premiere of a conversational style documentary recreating the greatness and talent of 2006 National Comedy Prize winner, Ruiz de la Tejera.
The event also combined with the Saturday Book space, held weekly in Old Havana’s Plaza de las Armas with the presentation of “Cari Care in Clave de 12” by Onelio Escalona, marking the twenty-year existence of the Caricare comedy group.Share on FB Share on TT