Cuban Theater Stars to Visit Webster

Famed Duo Will Meet with Students, Host Workshops and Lecture. 

ST. LOUIS – Cuba's most celebrated theater duo – director Flora Lauten and playwright Raquel Carrio – will visit Webster University’s home campus in February as the College of Arts & Sciences 2015 Global Leaders in Residence. The co-founders of Cuban theater company Teatro Buendia will spend five weeks in St. Louis sharing their expertise in literary adaptation, translation, and production with the community through a series of workshops and public events. The visit  is being provided in conjunction with the Office of Corporate Partnerships.

“The Global Leaders in Residence make direct connections for Webster students and the community with distinguished professionals from around the world,” said Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble, president of Webster University. “Through these interactions, expertise is shared, talent is developed, and relationships are formed.  At a time when this country’s relationship with Cuba is evolving, we are fortunate to welcome Flora Lauten and Raquel Carrio who will advance the goals of the Global Leaders in Residence initiative and enhance our growing interest in partnerships with Cuban leaders.”

Lauten and Carrio will open their residency with a keynote presentation at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 5 titled “La Tempestad: Theatre as a Game.” The event takes place in Winifred Moore Auditorium. Admission is free and open to the public. Through discussion and multimedia, Lauten and Carrio will give keynote attendees an inside look at Teatro Buendia’s distinctive approach to writing, staging, and producing a theatrical adaptation using their own adaptation of Shakespeare's play "The Tempest” –  “Otra Tempestad,” or “Another Tempest” –  as an example.

“This year’s guests would not have been possible if it was not for the hard work and connections that our faculty and staff have established with academics in Cuba during the last few years.” said Julian Schuster, Webster’s provost, senior vice president and chief operating officer. “As a result of that groundwork, our students and the community now have a unique opportunity to meet two of Cuba’s most respected performance artists.”

“We’re pleased to provide this kind of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to our students -- particularly those in our creative writing program,” said David Carl Wilson, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences. “Flora and Raquel are gifted artists and innovators whose work transcends boundaries and shapes the theater scene worldwide.”

“Otra Tempestad”combines Shakespeare's familiar characters with the characters of Afro-Caribbean mythology, bringing elements of music and dance to the stage alongside Shakespeare-in-translation; it embodies Lauten and Carrio’s philosophy of theatrical adaptation across cultures as a “game of ideas” in which a play’s characters are re-imagined in different places, cultures, and times.

The theater duo also will lead a four-week workshop, open to both Webster students and members of the community, exploring the idea of “theater as a game.” With Lauten and Carrio’s guidance, students will read plays, view theatrical productions, and participate in theater exercises to get the full experience of adapting works to the stage. “Otra Tempestad” will serve as a central text.

According to Henry Godinez, resident artistic associate at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and native of Cuba, “Otra Tempestad is characteristic of Lauten and Carrio's larger body of theatrical adaptations: “They take what we would consider ‘Western classics’ and... they loosely adapt them to reflect Cuba today.”

Godinez invited Teatro Buendia to perform as part of the Goodman's fifth biennial Latino Theatre Festival, which he curates. Of the typical Teatro Buendia production, Godinez said “it's unlike anything we ever see in the United States – because of its power, but also because of its simplicity. I think that's the beauty of it. It’s not a lot of bells and whistles; it’s all about the writing, the performing, the performance, the power of the actor, and the music.”

Though their work has taken them around the world, Lauten and Carrio’s residency at Webster is one of very few professional visits to the United States for the two of them – a rarity due, in part, to diplomatic tensions between the U.S. and Cuba which have limited travel. Lauten and Carrio’s forthcoming residency at Webster arrives on the heels of President Obama’s recent decision to re-open diplomatic relations with Cuba. They will serve as Global Leaders in Residence through the month of February – the longest stay in the history of the program.

“Having Flora and Raquel here for a month will allow as many students at Webster as possible, as well as members of the larger St. Louis community, to gain access to award-winning artists whose work and expertise are typically an ocean away,” Wilson said.

The Global Leaders in Residence program extends Webster University’s long-standing commitment to partnerships around the world. The program, housed in the Office of Corporate Partnerships, enables Webster to host distinguished individuals who are considered thought leaders in their fields from across a wide spectrum of disciplines. While in residence, Global Leaders interact with students to assist in real world learning by connecting theory to practice. Leaders share their unique perspectives based upon their experiences in forums that are free and open to all students, faculty and the general public.

Economist and author Richard Woolf served as the College of Arts & Sciences Global Leader in Residence for 2014.

With its home campus in St. Louis, Webster University (www.webster.edu) is the only Tier 1, private, non-profit U.S.-based university providing a network of international residential campuses and a robust online learning program. Founded in 1915, Webster University’s campus network today includes metropolitan, military and corporate locations around the world, as well as traditional campuses in Asia, Europe, North America, and Africa. The university is committed to delivering high-quality learning experiences that transform students for global citizenship and individual excellence.

 

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