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Graffiti set design adds punch to Cuba theater festival

Graffiti set design adds punch to Cuba theater festival
From Reuters - October 22, 2017

HAVANA (Reuters) - A play parodying the lengths some Cubans will go to in order to earn a few tourist dollars set against the backdrop of socially critical graffiti is adding punch to Havanas annual theater festival.

The first-time collaboration between veteran theater director Nelda Castillo, 64, and street artist Yulier Rodriguez, 27, underscores unease among some Cubans with the recent influx of tourists on the cash-strapped, Communist-run island.

The interdisciplinary spectacle, Guan meln!, tu meln!, is also an example of the innovative ways Cubans are pushing the boundaries of critical expression.

Rodriguezs eerie murals of creatures that look malnourished and malformed had become ubiquitous throughout Havana over the last three years, reflecting his view of the dark path upon which society was.

But the artist said authorities detained him for two days in August and ordered him to stop painting in public spaces.

Graffiti is seen as vandalism in many countries, although Rodriguez suspects authorities stopped him more because they did not like the content of his work.

Now I am limited in what I can do in the streets, any space where I can exhibit my work becomes a space of resistance for me, said Rodriguez.

Castillo, who often collaborates with visual artists, said she invited Rodriguez to paint the walls of the renowned El Ciervo Encantado theater because she knew his graffiti would enrich her play.

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