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The Merchant of Venice, a comedy by William Shakespeare, by Persephone Theater

Persefone defends the resistance of making independent theatre in Cuba, who is in the midst of a mass exodus, with the return to Shakespeare

Perséfone Teatro

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Havana, Cuba
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The Merchant of Venice project is the Cuban staging of this Shakespearean comedy, directed by Persefone Teatro. The show will bring the original text to the stage, with contemporary aesthetics and perspectives.

After having won crowdfunding with Richard II in 2022, Perséfone Teatro seeks to finance the production of this theatrical piece in Cuba, in the face of a difficult and closed context for Cuban independent art.

The content and argument of this classic of literature continues to attract diverse readers and diverse analyzes today. The Merchant of Venice is a dramatic comedy by William Shakespeare written between 1596 and 1598, which was not published until 1600.

Theater collectives from all over the world have launched The Merchant of Venice. This was done, for example, by Teatro Español, which performed the play in Madrid in 1923 and 1947. In turn, cinema has taken the play as a basis, as is the case with the version directed by Orson Welles in 1969 and directed by Michael in 2004. Radford, placing actors of the caliber of Al Pacino as Shylock and Jeremy Irons as the merchant Antonio.

The plot in summary, places Bassanio, a Venetian who belongs to the nobility but is poor and asks his lover Antonio, a rich merchant, to lend him 3000 ducats that will allow him to fall in love with the rich heiress Porcia.

Antonio, who has all his money used in ships abroad, decides to borrow the sum from Shylock, a Jewish usurer. Shylock agrees to lend the money on the condition that, if the sum is not returned on the indicated date, Antonio will have to give a pound of his own flesh from whatever body part Shylock disposes of.

This work revolves around legality and commerce, the ambiguity of contracts, presenting the above at the most extreme level. The characters' dialogues will dispute the question between justice and mercy. The staging, by the independent Cuban group Persephone Teatro, will have as a referential backdrop the atmosphere and style of the counterculture, the visuality impregnated with a modern perspective as a song and refuge that breathes in the freedom that escapes from the networks of totalitarianism and the encirclement of regimes.

It is in itself a letter of celebration of life, love, passion and sincerity, luck and misfortune, the faces and episodes of life that also flow in the veins of theater.

Dedicated to the historical memory of the theater and to the community of Cuban artists who in an era of mass exodus have decided to remain making their art in the country, this Shakespearean piece set in Cuba is a ritual of rescue to the portrait of the urban tribes that emerged . on the island between the 90s and into the 2000s, like the magnetic image of Havana's mythical Parque G (Avenida de los Presidentes).

The show will move to the allusions of the cultural revolution and punk of the 80s. The axes will point to a queer aesthetic, erotic planes, gay love and transgressive fashion. It will touch on historical aspects that correspond to the incessant struggle of the Jewish people in current conflicts, in the face of media manipulation and the constant threat that threatens their identity.

The project will function as a means of multiple job opportunities: it will seek to offer space to young actors, including students, graduates and amateurs, as well as established and well-known faces of acting in various settings. Likewise, it will create space for other artists: musicians, tattoo artists, filmmakers, dancers, photographers, artisans, visual artists, and DJs, an integration of roles that will merge with the process of the work and function as a multidisciplinary gear. Among the artists that this genre finds in the themes of society, the merchant insists on visualizing racial discrimination, social stigmas, youth nicknamed loss, urban contrasts and other nuances of contemporary reality.

Cuba is experiencing a moment of instability, of economic and political crisis, and of historical, generational rupture. The last year that has passed has been defined by the mass exodus, monetary inflation and the heightened disagreement between cultural institutions and the artists who relate to these institutions.

The censorship and political repression that have characterized the Cuban revolution in its more than 60 years in power have resonated with the state's cultural spaces, since the institution in Cuba is essentially to serve the authoritarian State. In this context, also marked by the rebellion of creators against the obtuse and rotten system, this proposal emerges with an ambitious spear that would remove independent theater from marginalized circuits and precarious formats, to legitimize it as a modality of management and creation. that can aspire to, for example, a room with hundreds of spectators, a cast of more than a dozen actors, a daring costume design or live music for the show.

Alternative conferences in our first meetings
Alternative conferences in our first meetings

From left to right, the actors Luis Angeles León and Edgar Valle, during the first readings of the play
From left to right, the actors Luis Angeles León and Edgar Valle, during the first readings of the play

Actor Jonathan Álvarez and actress Cinthya Manzano, at table work
Actor Jonathan Álvarez and actress Cinthya Manzano, at table work

The actor Edel Govea, in a reading challenge with dramatic nuances, supported by the series of conferences, as part of the pre-assembly process.
The actor Edel Govea, in a reading challenge with dramatic nuances, supported by the series of conferences, as part of the pre-assembly process.

Adonis Milán, director of Perséfone Teatro, in the first conference offered to the cast
Adonis Milán, director of Perséfone Teatro, in the first conference offered to the cast

About our awards

Each of your contributions will be rewarded with gifts that come from the art of our own team. Thus, the work's own style is represented in these royalties: the plastic arts, shared knowledge in a variety of classes and photography.

Art by Lizbeth Cuellar, young Cuban scenic designer and plastic artist
Art by Lizbeth Cuellar, young Cuban scenic designer and plastic artist

Several awards include various masterclasses, from the perspective of the performing arts by renowned artists. Identity, diversity, modernity and passion for theater are reflected in all the awards.

About us

Adonis Milán, director

Adonis Milán (Havana 1993) theater director and audiovisual producer. He was a disciple of Berta Martínez, emeritus teacher of Cuban theater. He has published different articles in digital newspapers, highlighting his work for the magazines Árbol Invertido and Alas Tensas. He created the independent theater group Perséfone Teatro, founded in Havana on August 30, 2015. It premiered three shows in cultural institutions: "El Arbol de Gatos", "Al filo del mar", and "Máquina Hamlet". As a result of the staging of the latter, he was expelled from the Hermanos Saíz association and a period of censorship and repression against the theater group began. Despite this, he has continued to create productions, including the video-monologue series "Spoon River" and the virtual theater series during the pandemic "Microteatro", the one-man show "Leaves of Grass", an adaptation of Walt Whitman's collection of poems, "Tom " biographical work by Tennessee Williams and "Hughie" by Eugene O'Neill. He premiered a major production, the historical drama of William Shakespeare's "Richard II." In 2022 he was invited by the Hannah Arendt Institute of Artivism (INSTAR) to the important art festival Documenta Fifteen in Kassel, Germany, with the documentation of several works by Perséfone Teatro.

He also works for INSTAR in the interview series Estratos, in the section dedicated to the memory of the Cuban theater. In 2023 he directed the play "The Dumb Waiter", by Harold Pinter and the video-theater series "Heroínas", a set of five chapters based on Greek tragedies, with a feminist touch. His latest works are the audiovisual adaptation of two short pieces by Federico García Lorca "La doncella y el marinero" and "Dialogo del amargo".


Luis Angeles León as Antonio

Luis Ángel León (Havana, 1996) theater, film and television actor. Graduate of dramatic art from the higher art institute. His career with the Cuban theater includes the works: "Ubú sin horns", by Miguel Abreu, "La Señorita Julia", by Sandra Lorenzo, "The Awakening of Spring", by Eduardo Eimil, "Ways of using the heart on the outside ", by Alberto Sarraín, "Dwarves" by Mario Guerra, "So let five years pass", "Harry Potter the magic is over" by Carlos Díaz. In the cinema he was part of the cast of the Cuban firm "Inocencia", by Alejandro Gil and the short film "Sin ti", by David Avilés and "Osiel", by Yimit Ramírez. In the Cuban television field he has worked on the materials "Viceversa", by Loisoys Inclán, "La Presentación" by Yoe Pérez.

Edel Govea as Shylock

Edel Govea (Palma Soriano, 1989). actor, teacher and performer. Graduated in 2014 from the Chair of Theater Art in the acting profile at the University of the Arts in Havana, Cuba. As an actor he has worked in the Vivarta Theater Company-Studio, directed by Antonia Fernández, in the play "Historia De Un Caballo", in the Teatro El Público company with the plays "La ronda", "Peer Gyn", "Los Cuentos Del Decameron" and "Ivonne: Princesa De Burgoña", all directed by Carlos Díaz. With the Teatro de La Luna company, he acted in "El Banquete Infinito", directed by Raúl Martín, and with the company Impulso Teatro he has worked in the works: "Insulto Al Público", "La Exception Y La Regla", "Balada Del Pobre" B.B" directed by Alexis Díaz de Villegas. Throughout his career as an actor in these companies, he has participated in the Havana International Theater Festival, Polish Theater Week in Havana, Teatro Mayo, among others. He has taught physical acting training workshops, acting training workshops aimed at theater performers in public interventions, and theater and physical body expression workshops for children and adolescents.

Christian Jesús as Bassanio

Christian Jesús Pérez (Havana, 1994) actor, acting student at the Instituto Superior Del Arte. As an actor he made his film debut with the film "Últimos Días En La Habana", by Fernando Pérez. The film received several international and national awards. He was part of the cast of the short film "Habana Me Matas", by Spanish director Patricia D Luna. On television he was a member of the group of actors in the soap operas "Viceversa" and "Renacer" as well as in the youth series "Calendario".

He worked in the Russian series "El Viaje". He currently works for the Hubert de Blanck company, in the works "El Gallo Electrónico" and "El Perro Del Hortelano". His experience also includes independent theater together with Perséfone Teatro, in the production of the video-theater "Diálogo Del Amargo", by Federico García Lorca directed by Adonis Milan.

Anarelys Ruiz as Porcia

Anayrelys Ruíz (Mayabeque, 2001) Actress. Graduated from the National School of Art with a specialty in acting. He has worked with Teatro El Público in the plays "Peer Gyn" by Henrick Ibsen and "La Zapatera Prodigiosa", by Federico García Lorca under the direction of Carlos Díaz. In the cinema he has worked in the films "El Mundo De Nelsito", by Fernando Pérez, "Am-Pm", by Alejandro Gil. On television he has appeared in the series "Primer Grado" by Rudy Mora and the television film "Siluetas" by Reinaldo Castañeda.

Sheila Roche as Nerissa

Sheila Roche (Santi Spiritus, 1975) renowned Cuban film, theater and television actress. Well remembered for her work in the soap operas "Las Huérfanas De La Obrapía", by Rafael González, "Salir De Noche", by Ibo Herrera and Mirta González, "La Cara Oculta De La Luna", by Rafael González, "Bajo El Mismo Sol" by Jorge Alonso among others. She is also nationally recognized for the series "Memorias De Un Abuelo", directed by Rafael Acosta and in the television theater "Las Brujas De Salem", by Eduardo Moya.

In cinema he has worked in the films "Varrio Cuba", by Humberto Solaz and "Perfecto Amor Equivocado" by Gerardo Chijona, among numerous other works. On the Cuban stage he was under the orders of maestro José Antonio Rodríguez, in the staging of "Quien Le Teme A Virginia Wolf", sharing the stage with the very first Cuban actress Verónica Lynn. He was part of the beginnings of the Argos Teatro company in the play "Baal", directed by Carlos Celdrán.

He was part of the theater company El Ingenio, directed by Juan Carlos Cremata Malberti, performing works such as "El Malentendido" and "Sleep". He has collaborated in independent theater in dramatic audiovisual projects with Perséfone Teatro.

Jonathan Álvarez as Salarino

Jonathan Álvarez (Havana, 1992). actor with more than 20 works of classical and contemporary theatrical repertoire. He has ventured into all performing profiles: dramatic theater, youth theater, children's theater and puppet theater. From 2009 to 2014 he was parte of the Gaia Teatro group in Havana. He represented several characters in different works, among the most notable of which are: "Divinas Palabras", by Ramón María del Valle-Inclán, "La Casa De Bernarda Alba" by García Lorca with La Poncia and Eloy in "Auto De Fe", by Tennessee Williams .

Then he moved to other groups such as: Estudio Teatral la Chinche, Interrogante Teatro, Teatro Papalote, and since 2017 he has been part of the Buendía Theater under the guidance of teacher Flora Lauten in which he premiered "La Señorita Julia" version of the play by August Strindberg directed by actress Sandra Lorenzo. In that theater group he has also worked as assistant director. In the recent years he has been an active part of the cast of the independent collective Perséfone Teatro, taking part in the staging of "Richard II", a historical drama by William Shakespeare and in the virtual versions of the video monologues "Spoon River" by Edgar Masters and in video theater "La Doncella y El Marinero" by Federico García Lorca, all under the direction of Adonis Milán.

Elizabeth Nande as Launcelot the Jester

Elizabeth Nande (Havana, 1976) Actress. Graduated from the National School of Theater Instructors, with a diploma in puppet theater and for children at the Higher Institute of Art. She has done different jobs as an actress both at the Faculty of Audiovisual Media (FAMCA) and on television (the series La Pandilla Verde and the teletheater Santa Isabel Del Video).

He was part of the cast of the play "Otra Vez El Muerto", under the direction of Gabriela Blanco, playwright and director. He has carried out work at the performance and urban art festival, at the Ana Mendieta performance festival at the Casa de las Américas and at the urban art festival in the historic center of the city. He won the Caricato Award in 2012 with the work "Divinas Palabras", by the Gaia Teatro de la Habana company and a prize at the urban art festival in the historic center of the city (First Festival of Living Statues).

She has worked as an actress in different theater companies. He currently works with the Teatro Espacio group and the Teatro Spontáneo De La Habana company. Her work and training as an actress has been directed towards the interweaving of disciplines such as dance, acrobatics and performance.

Juan Miguel Más like the Duke of Venice

Juan Miguel Más (Havana, 1965) Actor, dancer and choreographer. He began his career in 1989, in Contemporary Dance of Cuba, as a disciple of maestro Ramiro Guerra. He is the creator of the Danza Voluminosa group, an outstanding collective that has performed on stages in Cuba and the world. He has worked as an actor in the plays "El Mal Gusto", by Rogelio Orizondo and "Los Dos Viejos Pánicos" by Virgilio Piñera.

In the audiovisual field, his continuous work with the filmmaker Fabián Suárez is evident in films such as "Caballos", "Kendo Monogatari", and "Cherri", as well as in the film "Juan De Los Muertos" by Alejandro burgues and the short film "66 Palabras". ", by Raúl Alfonso. With the independent group Perséfone Teatro he worked on the virtual microtheaters "Una Obra Inconclusa" by Rogelio Elizondo and "Cuarteto" by Heiner Müller under the direction of Adonis Milán.

Edgar Valle as Lorenzo

Edgar Alejandro Valle Remis. (Havana, 1997) Actor graduated from the National School of Art (2015). He is currently a member of the Teatro El Público company. He has worked on works such as "Perla Marina" (2015), "Harry Potter Se Acabó La Magia" (2016), "Las Amargas Lágrimas De Petra Von Kant" (2019) directed by maestro Carlos Díaz. He has worked on projects such as "El Gran Disparo Del Arte" (2019) under the direction of Agniezka Hernández and the dance theater work "Be Careful" directed by Tamara Venereo. In the audiovisual space he has worked in films such as "Los Desastres De La Guerra" (2010) directed by Tomás Piard, "Leontina" (2012) directed by Rudy Mora, "Últimos Días En La Habana" (2014) directed by Fernando Pérez, "Lucas Como Sara" (2015) directed by Day Rodríguez and "Conejo" (2017) directed by Carla Forte.

For television he worked in the short film "Nara" directed by Rosa María Rodríguez and in the telefilm "La Vida Media Del Muon" directed by Mariela Hernández. He has participated in events and workshops such as the dance improvisation workshop at the Fábrica De Arte Cubano taught by Alexei Tarán and the Actors Directing Workshop at the International Film School taught by Santiago Rodríguez, both in 2018.

Asuán Frómeta as Graciano

Asuán Frómeta (Havana, 1989) actor and social communicator. He has worked in the theater from a very early age, he has taken different acting courses and workshops. He has worked in groups such as Teatro La Villa, Teatro Oceano, Teatro Caribeño and the Hubert de Blanck company in which he has premiered shows such as "Romeo y Julieta" by William Shakespeare, "Las Brujas De Salem" by Arthur Miller among others.

In the independent theater, the staging of the historical drama of Shakespeare's "Richard II" began with Perséfone Teatro and in the play "The Dumb Waiter" by Harold Pinter directed by Adonis Milán.

Cynthia Manzano Martínez as Jessica

Cynthia Marzano Martínez (Havana, 2002). Student of Art History at the University of Havana. He has entered theater as an amateur since university, with the group Metamorfosis. He has explored the world of performance independently with works such as "En Carne Propia", presented at the Fábrica De Arte Cubano. She was part of exhibition of photography and contemporary art "Nihilismo, rastros de transformación" by Damián Pérez.

Creative Team

María Lucía Expósito, assistant, photographer and communicator

María Lucía Expósito (Pinar del Río, 1997) journalist and photojournalist. Graduate of journalism from the University of Havana. She was a member of the Santiago Álvarez in memoriam documentary chair. She is a photo reporter for the Cuban LGBTQ magazine Tremenda Nota, the opinion magazine La Joven Cuba, the environmental journalism site Periodismo De Barrio, and the technology blog sponsored by the magazine Cuba Study Group.

She was part of the investigative journalism workshop of the Espacio Público Foundation held in Santiago de Chile in 2018. It has collaborated with the magazine Anfibia in Argentina, Cero Setenta in Colombia, and Distintas Latitudes in Mexico. She is part of the sixth generation of the LATAM network of young journalists and the third edition of the site journalism laboratory, in Cronos Lab and Cosecha Roja. She was part of a course on investigative journalism by the IPYS foundation in Peru, during September and October 2019.

She is a member of the organizing committee of the international festival of new Latin American cinema in Havana, where she has also been a journalist since 2017 and of the exhibition of young filmmakers from the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry. She won the national journalism award with the investigative reports Snet, the Havana network in 2019 and with Trust Investing, Cara o Cruz, in 2022. She directed, as part of his bachelor's thesis, an anthropological documentary about the forced relocation of the community of Cape San Antonio. She is a producer and the crowdfunding manager. She was the audiovisual director of the fiction shorts Spoon River and Heroinas, composed on stage for the Perséfone Teatro group between 2021 and 2023. She is currently a freelance photographer and is in charge of the image and communication management of the independent theater group Perséfone Teatro.

Lisbet Cuellar Vázquez, designer

Lisbeth Cuellar (Havana, 1996), fourth-year student studying scenic design, in the process of completing her studies. In June 2014, she spent a year at the "José Antonio Díaz" experimental center for visual arts and took the theatrical makeup and hairdressing course at the Actuar agency. Graduated from the Bella Caribe school in makeup, communication and marketing and from the international makeup workshop taught by the Italian master Piero Pennisi.

In terms of cinema, she did the art direction of the one-minute shorts "Platos Rotos", "Las Niñas Lindas No Lloran" and the makeup in "Silencio" and "La Fuga". Likewise, she has been a wardrobe assistant for the television program and Ruta 10 and a makeup artist for the video clip "Serenata De Balcón" by Danilo París. Her experience in independent theater includes work with Perséfone Teatro, in charge of the makeup for "Diálogo Del Amargo", by Federico García Lorca, directed by Adonis Milán. Currently she is projecting her bachelor's thesis on the general design work for The Merchant of Venice, by William Shakespeare, also with Perséfone Teatro

A qué destinaremos tus aportaciones

Expected Schedule

February/March: table work with reading of the text, online and in-person meetings and conferences with film and theater specialists.

April: beginning of assembly of the work in a space, and physical preparation workshops.

April/July: assembly and production process, equipment rental, costume design, set design, general rehearsals.

August: premiere of the work in Cuba.

August/November: rewards shipping.

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