Conversation with Dagoberto Luaces, director of Teatro de Bolsillo (pocket theater) group.
Dagoberto Luaces is from Guayamal, a town in Caimito municipality, Artemisa province. He graduated from the National School of Theater Instructors (ENIT) in 1989. In each of the productions of his group Teatro de Bolsillo (pocket theater), created in 2004, he has made use of diverse modalities, based on his experiences as a visual artist and confectioner.
Dagoberto fully agrees with the director of Teatro D\'Dos, Julio César Ramírez, who asserts that theater has to be done wherever, any place is opportune.
“The Berthold Brecht studio theater was inaugurated with a presentation by Teatro de Bolsillo. It’s a unique experience. Theater acquires a different dimension in front of 30 people.
“Many years ago the capital had very small theater halls known as salitas de bolsillo (pocket halls), and they presented this type of theater that we’re rescuing at the Brecht,” said the playwright and director.
“Building a theater always entails a considerable amount of resources. We can’t inaugurate a hall like the Raquel Revuelta or Teatro Miramar every day, just to mention two examples,” he noted.
“Smaller halls can be established anywhere with less resources, though it calls for different esthetics and forms of doing theater; in the end they constitute a refuge for the theatrical deed,” said Luaces, who for eight years has committed himself to doing theater from a municipality outside the capital.
In what circumstances did you create Teatro de Bolsillo?
I had a number of offers, but I finally ended up in my town, because I wanted to change the place where I was born. I started as instructor at the local cultural center.
In 1990, the theater group Teatro D\'Dos was created in Caimito municipality, directed by Julio César Ramírez, and for four years I worked with that group, as assistant director, producer, and doing anything that might be needed.
To earn my living during the economic crisis of the 1990s, I made and sold pastries in my house, until in 2001 they proposed me for teaching direction and acting at the 13 de Marzo Art Instructors School in San Antonio de los Baños municipality. I worked there for about five years.
In 2002, Francisco Lázaro Martínez Marichal, president of the Provincial Performing Arts Council, proposed me as a specialist for the Council, where I organized the event Teatrales de Invierno (winter theaters) which had been created in the 1990s.
That position linked me with the professional movement, and thus encouraged me to suggest to Marichal the creation of my theater group. For a year I was gathering the people. Finally, we founded Teatro de Bolsillo on March 10, 2004.
Why did you decide to found it in Bauta?
When I was a child I was a keen theatergoer, and Bauta’s theater was the most beautiful, best equipped, and had the best theatrical characteristics in the former Havana province.
I was caught in the dilemma of choosing between the municipalities of Caimito and Bauta. Theater groups always need a home, and the Municipal Theater of Bauta offered me that possibility, even though it’s not our official headquarters.
How did the name of the group come up?
I’m very interested in a close connection with the public. Proximity is one of the reasons. I’ve always been excited about small format and chamber theater.
I look for theater that gets to the essence of the individual, of being, without rejecting the pluses of large format, the splendor, the musicals. I apply all this to small format theater.
Tied to this, you put the essential, most necessary, things in your pocket. Pocket is a catchy name, and we put the public in our pocket and take them home with us.
What makes up Teatro de Bolsillo’s main repertoire?
It’s very difficult for groups who work in the municipalities to create strategies. The repertories for a municipality get old really fast.
Bauta borders on the capital, and instead of benefiting us, this makes us more vulnerable in terms of audiences. Its proximity to the city obliges us to have a more dynamic repertoire.
Though it’s not the essence of our program, we include children’s theater, because children are a very vulnerable age bracket. This is the main program of many theater groups in the communities.
Some titles I remember especially are La otra historia de la Cucarachita Martina, Todos somos necesarios and El patio de Caruca, a community project in which the actors improvise about children’s situations.
The adult audience is Teatro de Bolsillo’s raison d’être, but we’ve demonstrated we can work both for adults and children. In eight years, we’ve premiered nine shows for children and four for adults.
What challenges confront those who do theater outside provincial capitals?
It’s very hard to do theater outside the capital, because you become vulnerable. Resources are vital for theater productions. Sometimes we don’t even have a spotlight for illumination or a good sound system.
Now with the new political-administrative division, new structures are being tried out in the country, which seem to be beneficial for the municipalities, provided that municipal authorities are sensitive enough to support theater groups.
I am very grateful to the municipal Cultural authorities, the government of Bauta, and Héctor Piloto, vice president of the Provincial Administrative Council for all their material support.
The National Performing Arts Council will create the conditions needed to repair the stage of a building next to Bauta’s theater. It will be a hall similar to the Berthold Brecht, with some lighting and sound.
What is Teatro de Bolsillo’s ideo-aesthetic sytle?
Ricardo Muñoz’s Azudianzam is a very poetic play that marks the whole aesthetic style the group has followed in its eight years of existence. It’s a text with a lot of poetry where the theatrical image is very important.
I’m a plastic arts education graduate from the Enrique José Varona Higher Pedagogical Institute. This is where the performance quality of the plays I’ve directed comes from: Humores ridículos (comedy by Iván Camejo), Albio Paz’s Las penas que a mi me matan, and El enano en la botella (premiered in summer 2011).
For me theater is a performance with a high degree of plastic actions, design and visual parameters that one must respect.
Azudianzam responds to these interests.
How do you assess the importance of interpersonal relations in the theater world?
We’re fortunate to have the support of Teatro D\'Dos. We’re part of the result of their work. We appreciate the complicity of its director Julio César Ramírez, who’s the elder brother who guides us and teaches us the way we should follow.
Sometimes theatrists distance ourselves from each other because we think the world ends where our play begins. By doing this we are closing doors between ourselves, forgetting that united we stand.
In Teatro de Bolsillo we’ve tried to maintained contacts with entities and theatrists all over Cuba. We have the support of Carlos Díaz, the Casona de Línea Cultural Center, the theater of the National Fine Arts Museum, Gerardo Fulleda León, and especially of Marvin Yaquis, director of the Berthold Brecht Cultural Center.
These are connections that must be taken very much into consideration. Personally, I have always paid a lot of attention to the viewpoints of others. Sometimes we’ve fallen for paths that lead nowhere, and it’s better to consult colleagues who’ve gone wrong already.
Translated by Dayamí Interián
Revised by CF Ray