KEY WEST, Florida Keys — An original play by Key West playwright Michael Marrero is to be staged in Havana as part of a historic Cuban-American theatrical exchange. Performances of "Locura," a compelling exploration of Key West's renegade era of the mid 20th century, are scheduled for late May 2017 in the Cuban capital.
"Locura's" world premiere took place in 2015 at the Key West Theater, where Marrero is executive director, and earned rave reviews. The two-actor production spotlights the island city's mid-1900s "bad old days" through the interaction of a young Key West man and his Cuban-born uncle.
Marrero, a Key West native of Cuban descent, drew on his heritage to give the play its authentic tone and resonance. The script touches on smuggling, an escape from Cuba, cockfights, physical confrontations and other elements of the edge-of-the-continent atmosphere that characterized Key West at the time.
The Havana production of "Locura," to be presented in Spanish with American actors, is the concluding element in the bilateral theatrical exchange — one of the first between America and Cuba in more than 50 years.
As the initial feature of the exchange, the Key West Theater hosted a Jan. 24-28 showing of "Eclipse" by famed Cuban playwright Jazz Vila. A modern re-imagining of August Strindberg's classic "Miss Julie" set within the framework of a television reality show, the interactive play allowed the audience to decide the fate of the characters.
The theatrical exchange is coordinated by the Key West Theater and the island city's One Race/Una Raza. The latter group also coordinated a pioneering visual art exchange in 2014.
Located closer to Havana than to the U.S. mainland, Key West began welcoming Cuban cigarmakers who sought personal and political freedom in the early 1830s. The theatrical exchange is the latest aspect of the shared cultural heritage that has linked the two islands ever since.
Event information: thekeywesttheater.com
Key West visitor information: fla-keys.com/keywest or 1-800-LAST-KEY
Julio Trinidad (left) and Brandon Beach portray the protagonists in the Key West production of "Locura." Image: Michael Marrero
"Locura," written by Key West resident Michael Morrera, is a compelling exploration of Key West's renegade era of the mid 20th century