Carlos Celdrán, Cuba
Before my awakening to theater, my masters were already there. They had built their lodges and poetics on the vestiges of their own lives. Many of them remain unknown or rarely visit our memories: they have worked in secret, in the humble silence of rehearsal rooms, and in theaters overcrowded with spectators. Because, unconsciously, at the end of many years of work strewn with extraordinary achievements, they become invisible and vanish. When I realized that my profession, my personal destiny is to follow in their footsteps, I also understood that I inherited from them the heart-rending and unique tradition of living the present without any other hope than the attainment of the transparency of an unrepeatable moment. The moment you encounter the other in the darkness of the theatre hall, merely protected by the truth of a gesture, of a revealing word.
My theatrical homeland is defined by such moments of encounter with the spectators who come to our halls each evening, from the most different corners of my city, to accompany us and share with us a few hours, a few minutes. From these unique moments I build my life, when I cease to be myself, to suffer for myself, and when I rejuvenate and understand the authentic purpose of the craft of theatre: to live ephemeral moments of pure truth when you know that everything you say and do under the limelight is true and reflects your deepest and most personal self. My theatrical myth, mine and my actors’, is woven from all these moments in which we leave aside the masks, the rhetoric, the fear of being who we are, and we take our hands in the dark.
Tradition in theatre is a horizontal one. No one can state that in the theatre there is a centre of the world, which would be a privileged city or edifice. The theatre, as I came to perceive it, propagates by following an invisible geography that mixes the lives of those who make theatre with theatrical art, in a unifying gesture. All theatre masters die with their unrepeatable moments of lucidity and beauty, all go the same way, without any other transcendence that shall defend and make them illusory. Theatre masters know this, no recognition is more precious than the certainty that lies at the root of our work: to create moments of truth, ambiguity, strength, freedom in the midst of utmost precariousness. Nothing shall survive beyond the notes on their work and video or photo recordings that shall only convey a pale idea of what they have done. But what shall always be missing in these records is the silent response of the public, who instantly understands that what is happening cannot be either translated or retraced outside, that the truth shared here is a life experience, more ethereal than life itself for a few seconds.
When I understood that theatre is a homeland in itself, a vast territory that encompasses the whole world, a decision was born within me, which was also a liberation: you do not have to walk away or move from where you are, you must neither run, nor move. The audience is where you exist. There, your colleagues stand by you in need. There, beyond your home, you find all your daily, opaque and impenetrable reality. And then you work from the apparent immobility you find yourself in, in order to build one of the greatest trips, to rebuild the Odyssey, the legendary journey of the Argonautes: you are a real traveler who does not cease to accelerate the density and rigidity of your real world. Your journey is towards the instant, towards the moment to the unrepeatable encounter with your fellow men. Your journey is towards them, towards their hearts, towards their subjectivity. You travel through them, through their emotions, through their memories that you wake up and put them in motion. Your journey is vertiginous, no one can measure it or silence it. Just as nobody shall acknowledge its true value. It is a journey through the imagination of your people, a seed planted in the farthest land: the civic, ethical and human consciousness of your viewers. That is why I am steadfast, eternally connected to my own home, among those close to me, in a seeming immobility, working day and night, because I own the secret of speed.