Why do Cuban women look so gorgeous

Do you also dream of Cuba?

The Swiss-German group Rimini Protokoll lets young Cubans look at the revolutionary generation - and take stock.

By Alexandra Kedves

08/20/2019 / tagesanzeiger.ch

The four have the energy of the “Fridays for Future” youth - and the taker qualities of people who have learned to deal with broken dreams. Because they are from Cuba: Diana and Milagro, the two young black women who no longer straighten their hair like their grandmothers did; Daniel and Christian, the two young white men who are no longer as uncritical of the Nibelung loyalty to the state and its leadership as their grandfathers did. And say this even though censorship, control and repression are by no means pipe dreams in the Caribbean island state, to which they are returning after the tour of “Granma - Trumpets from Havana”.

Grandpa was the head of redistribution

Stefan Kaegi of the Rimini Protokoll group, born in Switzerland in 1972, was in charge of the concept and direction. And the questions he poses to the four experts on everyday Cuban life are ours: Has the country that wanted to confront capitalism created a better world for its people? What stones were put in his way, and by whom? What would you have to do differently in order to get a really social and fair society? For the answers, the quartet looks back at the life of their grandparents.

Daniel's grandfather had even served as Fidel Castro's minister for expropriation and redistribution until he was no longer able to cope with the creeping corruption. The grandson critically scrutinizes the (ex) minister's public speeches on stage; historical photo and film material enliven the retrospective approach. In general, the grandchildren interacts permanently with the Castros generation during the performance - and with us. You inquire about the experiences of inequality in this country, also refer to Swiss entanglements in Cuba's suffocating history of sanctions.

Heroes of history as cardboard comrades

And they tell about themselves as an old Singer sewing machine rattles its way through the years and history: from the clandestine arrival of Castro and Che Guevara in Cuba in the yacht named Granma in 1956, to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, which changed everything the Caribbean island led to famine, to Cuba's private sector openings - and upheavals - of today. Animation sequences transmitted via livecam literally turn the heroes into cardboard comrades and recreate the historical moments (Video: Mikko Gaestel).

And laypeople play ravishingly fresh from the liver. When trombonist Diana travels around the world, it is to make a career as a musician, she confesses - and not to inspire the soldiers, like her grandfather once did with his band. Milagro, granddaughter of a seamstress, is thrilled that the revolution made it possible for her to study: She is the first in her family to receive a university degree. But the fact that she will earn less with the longed-for job as a history professor than as a tourist guide in Havana shows her that something has gone badly wrong. There is still a lot to do in Cuban society in the fight against racism, she says on the North Stage.

The fantasies of the old fighters

Christian's grandfather, for his part, was a soldier in Angola to support the Marxist-fraternal freedom fighters there and also in South Africa. In retrospect, however, his grandson interprets this military deployment by Cuba as an act of necessity; Russia left Cuba with no other choice. Regardless, the grandfather is beamed into the stage as a friendly smiling old man: He can no longer remember the lyrics of the patriotic marching songs exactly, but one thing is certain for him - the Cuban revolution is the best that could have happened to the country. His grandson should put his heart and soul into it.

And no matter how dilapidated the house in which Milagros grandma lived from her first pregnancy until her death, she would not have had a house without the revolution. This expropriated a middle-class family who had fled; or nationalized, depending on the opinion, an empty house for the benefit of all. No, a consumer hell where everyone only follows their greed, as can be seen in Swiss department stores with their overflowing product ranges, is not what Milagro would like to see in their homeland. Cuba remains a foil for hopes and projections.

The evening offers no unambiguity. But great things. So doc-theatre Shine with laypeople - including three lay trombonists: when it's hard and fast, funny and profound, musical and yet fearlessly instructive. You learn a lot in the two-hour “Granma”: from apparent historical marginalia to the fundamental ambiguity of every interpretation of history. The didactics of Rimini Protokoll takes courage. With such participants, however - one hardly dares to write down in view of the evening - she generates pleasurable theater consumption.




Granma. Trombones from Havana