Ring Theatre celebrates ostracized, yet talented artist

In celebration of Virgilio Piñera’s 100th birthday, the Ring Theatre will present five of his plays as part of the Absurd Celebration: The First International Festival of Virgilio Piñera’s Theatre.

The festival is the kick-off event for Taking Flight: The Year of the Humanities and the Arts at the University of Miami, an initiative that will highlight the arts and humanities through activities at the university.

Piñera, a controversial Cuban playwright, is credited for bringing modernism to Latin American theater as well as writing the first absurd play.

He was ostracized for his homosexuality and creativity until his death in 1979 in Cuba at the age of 67. Piñera has since become a symbol for the quest of artistic freedom and evolution of styles in literature, visual arts and media.

“He was an iconoclast, irreverent and had a very dark sense of humor. He also incorporated this humor into his plays,” festival co-curator Lillian Manzor said.

Manzor and Alberto Sarraín, a local theater director who has staged most of Piñera’s plays, thought that Miami should be the center of Piñera’s celebrations.

In addition to the festival, Manzor is responsible for the Richter library’s homage to Piñera, which can be found in the Cuban Heritage Collection.

The exhibit, which consists of photographs, original scripts and costume designs, is set to open Aug. 30. She also organized the colloquium, “Sexual and Cultural Politics in Virgilio Piñera’s Theater,” which will be held Aug. 30 to Sept. 1 at the Wesley Gallery.

“It’s really special to see him honored this way,” said sophomore Martha Gonzalez, who was born in Cuba. “My parents have always talked about how important his works are and how much he struggled.”