The controversy, of course, is served. Some say that the theater that is enjoyed on the Internet or in front of a television is something else, but it is not theater. It starts from the conviction that the essential condition of this art is the confluence in a physical space of at least one actor and one spectator. But new technologies have long offered new alternatives to the stage event. And the audiovisual record of a play, much more if it is well filmed, can be an interesting spectacle. Not counting the fact that it can amplify the impact of a staging.
There is controversy in this Theater Festival, but there is a festival. The decision of the organizers, given the impact of the pandemic, was not to suspend the nineteenth edition of an event that pays tribute to the actress and director Berta Martínez; at 80 years of a fundamental piece of Cuban dramaturgy, Electra Garrigó, by Virgilio Piñera; and 60 years after the famous Words to Intellectuals. Most of the programming is on the networks, mainly on the YouTube channel of the National Council of Performing Arts. But, for those who complain about internet costs, there is a much more democratic option: four Cuban television channels are broadcasting the productions. It is enough to consult the daily billboard to be able to put together a personal program.
The international exhibition features works from Germany, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Canada, Colombia, Spain, Peru and Uruguay. The thematic spectrum is very wide, and the creative paths are also dissimilar. All the groups gave up their rights so that viewers could enjoy the materials. The Cuban sample is also diverse. Shows for adults or family theater that had successful seasons in theaters, before the pandemic, are included. But there are also creations conceived in this complicated health contingency.
The theoretical program includes panels and presentations of publications that are also available on the networks and that are broadcast on television. This, certainly, must be the most unique of the editions of the Havana Theater Festival, to the satisfaction of many who prefer to see theater, or the substitute for theater, from the comfort of their living room.