An interview with Ulises Rodríguez Febles from Matanzas means inserting himself into a labyrinth of ideas that are built from his passion for writing. Stories, novels, with preference to the «only art where humanity faces itself.» He is considered one of the leading contemporary Cuban playwrights.
His special gift is revealed in writing, with works that cover dissimilar themes of a social, biographical nature or a reflection of family relationships, but his work extends to acting, counseling and teaching together with the direction of the Casa de la Scenic Memory in Matanzas.
Was the theater first?
“Since I learned to read, I changed my voice in the dialogues, I wrote games for my friends who came to the Guamacaro valley and in fifth grade I started acting. In high school we put together a group called Los Dacios, with whom we made my own works, with historical and adolescent themes. He wanted to be an actor. Then when I had to go to the ISA they did not open the Acting career nor could I enter the Theatrology that year; but life is long and you have to persist to achieve what you dream of.
» What study?
“I studied one of Humanities, I headed towards a Bachelor of Literature and Spanish. However, I did not give up. At the University I joined a theater group that won many awards. I wrote the play «The seed that does not germinate», which premiered at the Pedagogical. Main for me was the monologue “El corcel verde”, directed by Carlos Manuel Betancourt, which dealt with juvenile delinquency linked to the trafficking of dollars, with which I won more than 10 awards at national festivals of the FEU, the AHS, the UNEAC and that led me to professional theater.
» How did it get inserted?
«Albio Paz and the advisor Pedro Morales saw me act, they caught their attention and they proposed me to join the group El Mirón Cubano in 1992. At the same time, the teacher René Fernández called me at the Papalote theater for the play» Disfraces «and I played five characters, in a 25-day montage, with Mayda Seguí and Rubén Darío Salazar. When I emigrated to Teatro D ’Sur, I continued with the character of“ El corcel verde ”for a long time and others, under the direction of Pedro Vera.» So the beginnings are as an actor and a writer
… And the consulting work?
“I have never stopped being related to theater and also to teaching as a professor of History and Appreciation of Theater. It was with Mirón Cubano himself, that I acted as an advisor. However, my eyes were not on street theater or puppet theater, which is why Teatro D ’Sur captivates me so much. Pedro put on various plays, which attracted me and I went there until 1996. While I was teaching, I also directed Actus, a university group and in 1998 I acted again with René in the text “Convocando a Carilda”, where I co-starred with Lea Milagros Hernández. «
Ulises likes to talk about his histrionic gifts, but we are, above all, in front of a writer with full awareness of the role that corresponds to him in the epochal history of Matanzas and the nation, because the most revealing of his literary work, in my opinion It is the depth that it seeks inside the characters, that way of unraveling their behaviors together with the hope that it proposes through love and tolerance among human beings. Some critics adduce him a civil, natural vocation, when assessing the need to verify the time in which we live, as a right and duty of the intellectual.
Do you consider this criterion correct? How do you incorporate social themes in your theater texts?
“I have always assumed a social vocation. One of my first short story books «The Lord of the Scissors» addresses this content and was promoted by the literary workshops, whose movement was highly valuable. I met great figures such as Armando Morales, César López, Eduardo Heras León, Sonia Bravo, Abraham Rodríguez, who rewarded my stories and dramas, I learned with them …
“I am concerned about society and I have investigated, reflected on the course of it and it has been a mark in my dramaturgy and in all my creation.
Because I am a citizen who walks through this country, a writer who recognizes life and its conflicts, the concerns and responsibilities that one assumes with those men and women who march by our side. “I feel the need to write about this time and the society in which I grew up.
I believe that it is a responsibility of the writer, to investigate his reality, from the honesty, with the ability to reflect the circumstances, in which the perspectives and visions of his characters are, the traumas produced by the conflicts in which they live. Always write, taking into account your tendencies, your desires, collisions, with the rigor of the truth. »
Among his best-known and award-winning texts of a social nature are “La Ventana Tejida”, “El Concierto”, “Huevos”, his most beloved work, “Oscurísima Obscura”, premiered by the dramatic painting of Radio 26, “Baseball”, in about twenty, represented by theatrical groups from Matanzas, nationals and from countries such as Mexico, the United States, Italy, England and Spain. An interesting aspect is added to this profuse creation, the one related to music with the trilogy: «I am the King of Mambo», «Danzón» and «Lara».
You cannot speak of the Matanzas theater artist Ulises Rodríguez Febles in this country, if you do not name the House of Scenic Memory and its 20 years of creation, in a last magical place, where they no longer fit due to the size of its funds, the which the writer exposes: “It is one of my creations that I defend tooth and nail, because it is about Cuban heritage, not only in the scene, but in other manifestations: plastic arts, music, through donations and research that have been made of our national identity, undermined and in need of protection and defense. I have been at home for twenty years, in this alternative space since 2000.
Sponsored by Mercedes Fernández, president of the Provincial Council of Performing Arts at that stage, at the headquarters itself. There is no other like it in Cuba. What we keep here is incalculable. This carries a specialization, in the work of archivist of the scene. “The House of Scenic Memory no longer fits due to the size of its funds.
For example, there are 19 films by Pérez Prado, donated by Mexicans, unique here, from Havana writers, from Yumurino artists. We constantly work on local, national and international projects. We are known to researchers around the world, but by coexisting with the council, we were unable to achieve a particular identification. » Are you happy with his life? «Yes, comprehensively, because in my home I have support and solidarity with my dedication, for my wife and children, although I still have unreached dreams.»
The aspirations do not end … “I still yearn for a House of Scenic Memory independent in location and structure. All is screened and shelved. I think that Matanzas needs a memorial of Matanzas literature and culture, where the work of great personalities such as White, Milanés, Byrne, Faílde, Pérez Prado, Celina González, Cobo, Carilda converges … because we are an invaluable cultural power, and a lot moreover, I aspire to an official site where the national heritage is preserved. «