Ring Theater plays reflect Cuban playwright’s absurd sense of humor

The last two plays of the First International Festival of Virgilio Piñera’s Theatre will be performed from Sept. 14-22 at the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre.

Carrying Water in a Sieve is an evening of two one-act plays – “You Always Forget Something” and “False Alarm” – that reflect the controversial Cuban playwright´s absurd sense of humor.

The Cuban Heritage Collection at the Richter Library is showcasing the works of Piñera through Dec. 15 in a multi-faceted exhibit called “A Theatrical Thunderbolt: Cuban Playwright Virgilio Piñera in his Centenary.” The homage to his theatrical innovations coincides with the 100th anniversary of his birth.

The exhibit, curated by professor Lillian Manzor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, includes materials held at the Cuban Heritage Collection and in the Cuban Theater Digital Archive such as original scripts, photographs and letters. Video clips from different productions of Piñera’s plays are also featured.

¨We always rotate exhibitions in each term to keep it fresh and exciting,¨ said Esperanza Bravo de Varona, who holds an endowed chair at the Cuban Heritage Collection.

Piñera, who was also a poet and author, is credited for writing the first theater of the absurd play and for bringing modernism to the theater in Latin America. After working in Buenos Aires in the 1940s and 1950s, he returned to Cuba and the publishing industry there. He was arrested in 1961 for his homosexuality and socialist views, and lived his last years in poverty. He died in Havana in 1979.

The exhibit is the latest in a long line of projects done by the Cuban Heritage Collection, which, since 1988, has been collecting materials related to Cuba and the exile experience. The collection has pulled together decades’ worth of contributions from members of the community, professors and student.

Donations from the Goizueta Foundation, the Fanjul family and Elena Díaz-Versón Amos led to the 2003 inauguration of the CHC’s new home, the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion, on the second of the library. Goizueta is the late former chairman and CEO of the Coca-Cola Co.

¨We are here for more than just putting the books in the right place,¨ said Bravo de Varona, who supervises the largest repository of Cuban and Cuban-American materials outside of the island. ¨We help students and investigators to access valuable information about the Cuban history.¨

The collection has become a valuable resource for students, both at UM and at other local universities.

“I did a research about the Cuban exiles and the information from the Cuban Heritage Collection found in Miami Libraries Digital Collections was extremely helpful,¨ said Heydi Maldonado, a senior majoring in public relations in the School of Communication.

Thebis Alvarez, a senior majoring in political science at Florida International University, received permission to access some of the collection’s materials read about the newspapers published about the Cuban exiles.

¨The way the staff organized the material was incredible,¨ Alvarez said. “Ï was thrilled to know there is a collection of information through different mediums about my ancestors.”