La Peña has chosen Bent to present this year, as an appropriate way to support the LGBT movement at this critical moment. The play will run for a month at the famous Bertholt Brecht theatre.
(the lead actors having their heads shaved)
Bent was first performed in 1979 in London, starring Ian McKellen and Tom Bell and the following year in New York City, starring Richard Gere. The play was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and Best Play for the Tony Awards in 1980, and won the Dramatists Guild Best Play Award. Bent was later adapted into a film in 1997, directed by Sean Mathias and winning the prix de la Jeunesse at Cannes.
Bent is a visceral and powerful representation of the mal-treatment and internment of homosexuals in Nazi Germany leading up to World War II, and the search for personal and social acceptance of one's identity. The themes of persecution and prejudice against gays explored in this classic play remain highly relevant today in Cuba, and globally.
Cuba, itself, has seen huge progress in the acceptance of the LGBT community since the dark days of incarceration of homosexuals in labour camps after the revolution. Now homosexuals are beginning to gain legal protection and much wider social acceptance.
"I’m extremely proud to be part of this moment in history in Cuba. In the years since I’ve been coming to Cuba, there has been a growing awareness of LGBT issues, and a significantly more relaxed attitude towards expressions of LGBT sexuality — this largely due to the leadership of Mariella Castro, daughter of the President, and head of the CENESEX organisation. Lobbying continues to persuade the government to liberalise laws concerning homosexuality, even gay marriage. So the presentation of “Bent’ comes at a time when consciousness-raising is critical in Cuba — and the play could have a significant effect on public opinion."- Stephen Bayly (co-director)
(Sir Ian McKellen and Tom Bell in the original 1979 production )
La Peña Meisner de la Habana is an unofficial and unfunded group of actors and directors trained over the last 8 years by British director Stephen Bayly, largely at Cuba’s International Film and Television School. They are devoted to practicing the truthful, realistic acting techniques of the late Sanford Meisner. They are leaders in Latin America in this form of acting, and have been said to be 'changing the face of acting in Cuba'.
“These techniques of realistic acting are desperately needed in Cuba - in cinema, tv, and theatre. There is no money, and no official organisation behind La Peña, but even without support, we come together and practice and improvise, because we are hungry to improve our craft, and to present a more truthful approach to acting.” Yoset Posada
In February 2012 La Peña mounted its debut production, Las Tumbas Olvidadas, an adaptation of Edgar Lee Master’s Spoon River Anthology, as part of the British Embassy’s Semana Britanica. This modest production was a success d’estime, and encouraged the group to mount a second production -- Joe Penhall’s award-winning play Blue/Orange, presented in June 2013 at the Bertholt Brecht Theatre. The production played to overflowing houses, being praised for its intense and realistic performances, earning cast members Idalmis Garcia and Hector Noas Best Theatre Actor nominations for the Premios Caricato, Cuba’s most prestigious acting awards.
What We Need
The Cuban government encourages theatre as a popular cultural product by holding the admission prices to an equivalent of 18p Sterling. The monthly wage there is equivalent to about $28. These kind of fees don't translate very well into £'s. So... we need your help to make sure the production can happen by paying the UK team who are fighting on this side of the Atlantic to make things happen there. This includes the designer of the posters, the composer, the producers and director and also for things like the translation rights into Spanish etc.
La Peña's previous production Blue/Orange was funded by The British and Norwegian embassies, along with generous Cuban sponsors and British patrons. Bent, a much more ambitious project, will also receive some funding from Norway, but we need to turn to the public for support to raise the remaining sum.
This will go towards:
- graphic design and printing
director and producer's minimal fees
- translation rights and play rights
Other Ways You Can Help
We deeply appreciate all forms support. We want this campaign to reach as wider audience as possible, it would be incredibly helpful if you could share this campaign with friends, family and colleagues, or anyone else you think might be interested.
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Twitter : https://twitter.com/BentCuba