Is anyone else feeling freaked out by East Coast earthquakes and hurricanes the size of Europe that reach all the way to Canada? Not to be alarmists or anything, but maybe it's time to stuff our belongings into our hybrids, pack a year's supply of organic trail mix, and navigate our way through the universe until we get to another planet where we can start all over, before our world starts looking like the landscape in If You're Going To Pull a Knife, USAlo.
In the gloomy, absurdist play by Carlos Caballero and Elizabeth Doud, a petroleum worker and a Disney World character actress fall in love in a ruined, polluted ocean. New Times spoke with Carlos Diaz, founder of the Cuban avant-garde theater company Teatro El Público and director of the play, about Samuel Beckett, directing theater in Cuba, and cultural exchange between our two countries. (Interview translated from Spanish.)
New Times: What is If You're Going to Pull a Knife, Usalo?
Diaz: We are using the text of different works of Beckett to create a
play that in a visual manner talks about the care that we need to put
into the sea and everything that has to do with the environment. It
talks about the relationship between a worker and a mermaid. The story
begins when they meet and continues until the mermaid leaves... it's about
two human beings who wait for change and realize that there is no day
in which they are happy.
What's the role of Samuel Beckett's work in the play?
use the text of Waiting for Godot, Happy Days, and Endgame, as a
function--without betraying the text of Beckett--to create a second story
with the purpose of the project.
Where did the idea for the project come from?
idea for the project came from the duo of actors Carlos Caballero and
Elizabeth Doud. They worked on this idea for 20 minutes, and then I came
in to realize the play of one hour and 10 minutes.
How did you know the actors? You currently live in Cuba, correct?
Carlos worked with me in Teatro El Publico, for which I'm the director
[in Cuba]. I met Elizabeth at a theater festival I attended here last
year, when we brought the play Las Amargas Lágrimas de Petra von Kant. I
met Elizabeth and met up with Carlos, who had been a producer of Teatro
El Publico in Cuba. It's been a bit like working with family.
And what is Teatro El Publico?
El Publico was founded 20 years ago. We've put on works from the
classics to combinations of different languages that allow us to
communicate with the public of today. We have a broad repertory. We've
spent 20 years I think working with the best of universal theater.
Do you sense any difference in directing plays here in Miami and in Cuba?
I think that theater is a communication that is the same in any place
where one goes; theater is the magic of the black box and communicating
with the public. And to me, it's been very comfortable working here in
You probably heard about all of the controversy
surrounding Cuban musician Pablo Milanes's concert here. What's your
opinion on cultural exchange between our two countries?
I think, in
the best sense, that we need to fight for that cultural exchange. I
think that there shouldn't be silence on either shore, because people
should be able to get to know arts and culture from both here and there,
and be able to exchange.
Performances of If you're going to
pull a knife, USAlo take place September 8 through 10 at 8 p.m. and
September 11 at 5 p.m. at Miami-Dade County Auditorium (2901 W. Flagler
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St., Miami). Tickets cost $20 general admission or $15 for students and
seniors. Call (305) 358-5885 or visit fundarte.us.