Cubana’s Delikatessen is not street theatre but theatre on the streets. All actions are different one from the other, because once at the street, depending where and at what time; we also find a very diverse audience. Any place is a good stage: the shop windows, the markets, the bus, the malls, that very moment when people leave the theatre… It is thought out in a way that the general public can come across a performance accidentally whilst they are doing the shopping, talking, waiting on a long queue or else doing any of their daily duties. The general public act as audience and unconsciously, with their comments and their unintentional involvement, they become the cast generating a new play, a new script, so different from the one the real actors are performing…
Inside the shop’s windows
The shop’s windows have always been considered as small stages at a street level for La Cubana. People don’t stop in front of a window only to have a look to our future clothes but also to contemplate a small piece of art, based on the light design, the clothes, etc.
Inside a first floor shop windows, we recreated an automat that the audience could set in motion from the street by inserting a coin. A dancer, a violin player, a 18th century lady, a strong man and a magician, were the dolls that danced and moved cyclically with rhythm.
Inside a shop window we set up an animated painting. A portrait of a plump “maja” laying, comes alive and chats to the people passing by. While talking, she has a cigarette, eats or fans… The walkers guess what the chubby lady says, but are unable to hear her and at this very moment, the audience imagination becomes essential. Meanwhile, the window’s curtains roll up and down cyclically, reminding us of those from the prostitutes in Amsterdam’s Red District.
VOYEURS, VOYEZ VOUS
Inside the shop windows we set up some walk-in wardrobe cabinets, similar to the ones we come across in shopping centres; but in that occasion, the pane facing the street works as the mirror. From that very moment, everything taking place inside the cabinets is automatically witnessed from the street by an eager audience full of voyeurism; an audience that would be delighted to see how the pretended customers take on the usual attitudes and positions as they are trying to fit in some trousers, t-shirts or jumpers.
A family is having dinner inside a shop window, ignoring what is going on out on the streets. The audience follow the dinner only guessing what is said by the actors. It is similar to what we are accustomed to see in our holidays, from our apartment’s balcony; for instance, when we see the family in front of us having their meal and we can easily imagine the dialogue-taking place in it. Visually, at that dinner everything is white: the floor, the walls, and the clothes… As the dinner goes on, many extraordinary things happen: imperceptible to the characters, who carry on with their story and pay no attention to the surroundings, even if such special effects are clearly visible by the audience.
Inside the marketThis is another place where theatre is created continuously; where sellers and buyers become great players. Players with a well-learned plot, this of buying and selling…
In the middle of a food market: Among the vegetable dealer, the fish shops and the groceries, a seller sets up her shop of macrobiotic stones with curative powers. The stones, accurately selected, classified and marked, are exposed as if they were of first quality. The seller explains the properties of each stone: some are to improve the memory, the other for the kidneys, for the sore foot, these other ones to have your husband on the go… Well, there are stones for the whole lot. The audience, flabbergasted, make their comments and questions. Some actors mixed with the audience comment and buy some stones. The audience get easily involved and buy some stones too.
On the streetAny street is, by itself, is a big scenario and everything taking place in it is a big show. Any action in the street can turn out to be a great performance. Anything: a fight, a car crash or a fire generates a huge audience observing, asking and commenting.
A TRAP FOR TERESA
It is afternoon, a foreign spinster lady has set out for a walk with her girlfriends when she finds trapped, accidentally, behind a shop’s roller blind, a blind automatically temporarily activated. Her friends quickly start asking for help. The lady, showing her concern, is asking the time to the pedestrians passing by. Very quickly, a huge amount of public gathers around the lady eager to know what is going on and generating many comments.
The lady’s friends come back. They cannot locate the owner of the shop and the locksmith can’t help her either, so the lady is starting to get truly nervous. At the end, the firemen (actors) arrive and blow up the blind down rescuing the lady. Everybody claps celebrating the braveness of the rescue.
Parody of a collecting petitioner table. A petitioning table is located in the middle of the street, leaded by two outstanding ladies followed by youngsters with money boxes, flower bouquets, garlands, etc. The public has a chance to give some donations as well as to see and smell the ladies closely. All through the collection, the audience discovers the tics of such marvelous ladies; who elbowed their way through in order to remain protagonists. At the end, they even fought for the flower bouquet that decorated the petitioning table.
At a given time, in a certain street and in front of a certain house, we can see how an honest worker arrives home only to find his wife in a love-fight with a third party. The husband takes hold of his firearm and the intruder, half naked, climbs down with great acrobatic skill from the balcony, aided by a sheet, escaping from the bullets fired by the furious husband up there in the balcony… A very short action, scarcely a few minutes long.
TOURS LA CUBANA
An excursion through the city by bus. This time, the audience doesn’t bump into a performance casually but, in this case, has been queuing to get in the bus. They have taken their sits in and through the glass they can watch their own city. In this occasion, the bus becomes the stalls and the street, with the actors in the balconies or else walking or passing by, turn the surroundings into an improvised scenario.
Every city has a specially made for script. It is created depending on the route and the history, always on a comical key. While some actors run from one side to the other, dressing up quickly in order to be on time at the other location, so they can be seen when the bus passes by, other actors, pretending they are tour leaders, explain to the bus passengers the details of the excursion. Afterwards a walking tour follows, visiting monuments and new sights with more surprises.
Over the phone
For the time those actions were performed, we put an advertisement on the media where the following note was read: “For the next few days you are going to bump into theatre accidentally in your town. If due to any circumstance you are not able to go out the streets, don’t worry, dial the telephone number XXX and we’ll offer you some theatre over the phone”.
THEATRE OVER THE PHONE
Through calling a specific number, who did had the opportunity of hearing an audio-dramatic action. Listening to a telephone conversation between two people can be a very interesting theatrical experience.
PREMIÈRE: October 1983, Sitges Theatre Festival.
PLACES WHERE IT HAS BEEN PERFORMED: Sitges, Vilanova del Camí, Barcelona, L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, València, Saragossa, Granada, Mataró, Santander, Banyoles, Ribadavia, Tàrrega, Salamanca, Valladolid, Palma de Mallorca, Madrid, Múrcia, Oviedo, Segòvia, Osca, Cadis, Puerto Real, Puerto de Santa Maria, Chiclana, Santiago de Compostela, Torrelavega, Pamplona, Logronyo, Molina de Segura, Reus, Ceuta, Albacete, Torredonjimeno, Hellín, Navarra, Almeria, Sant Feliu de Llobregat, Santa Perpètua de Moguda, Aurillac, El Vendrell.
DIRECTOR: Jordi Milán
"El grupo local La Cubana, una actuación que se basa en el ingenio y el buen humor" | LA VANGUARDIA | Xavier Fabregas
"Dos espectáculos callejeros, La Cubana y Albert Vidal, salvan el Festival de Sitges" | EL PAÍS | Joan de Sagarra
""Cubana's Delikatessen" organiza su primera gira a nivel nacional y sigue sin subvenciones" | LA VANGUARDIA | J.S.
""La Cubana", teatro para transeúntes con ignorada vocación de actores" | LA NUEVA ESPAÑA | Pedro Pablo Alonso
The funniest thing of all was to hear the people’s comments, those that were wondering whether if the dolls were for real. Once one lady said to another: “Nowadays, in Spain, since they build this dolls that can piss or cry, we have improved a lot. They take into account every detail. See how well done are those dolls at the window -meaning the automats- look, they even put up some hair in their armpit!”
This sort of actions usually took place inside certain etiquette kind of shops. The arrangements, in order to have access to their windows, were as good as those of any specialised charlatan, and full of diplomacy. At that time we used to travel with a couple of cases only, quite fit to be seen, and the rest of the gear travelled packed in cardboard and packing tape. Of course, we didn’t show our shabby cardboard boxes when we were building the stage, on the contrary: what we did was to place the objects in the good travel case so it would look more presentable. The starting point of building such scenarios was a legend by itself: we pretended to be skilled designers and as tidy and as methodical as one can be. After a while, when the owner was realising what he had given access into his place, it was then too late and impossible to reverse. At the end, the truth is that we left everybody delighted with it, yet all through the show they seemed to be suffering quite a lot. With many of the owners, we have kept a very good relationship to date.
These actions generated many anecdotes, mainly related to those people who really believed on the stone’s healing powers. The most astonishing anecdote happened in Zaragoza, where a quite distressed lady came looking for those healing stones just as we were closing down. She wanted to know to what extent she could rely on those stones. You see, she had a big family problem, and thus she had to know whether the stones would help her out. Some neighbours had told her about the new stone shop and she had come as soon as she heard of it. Vicky Plana, (the pretended seller), trying not to offend the lady, told her as nicely as she could that those stones were not curative stones but macrobiotic stones, and, on the other hand, it was all a joke, an excuse to forget about daily problems while having a laugh.
A TRAP FOR TERESA
This action gave us many anecdotes. Here we want to let you know the funniest ones:
In Madrid: the action was to take place in Montera Street, near where the prostitutes did her business at the time. La Cubana was hired by the Spanish Arts Council for the Autumn Festival (Festival de Otoño). All pertinent licenses and permits had been ask: city council, traffic police, firemen, as we always did. The action started: the lady was already trapped behind the blind and there was a huge audience around. Among them, there were those who knew that it was all about and other that didn’t have a clue of what was going on. In a given moment, a mislead car police, ignoring we had all the licenses and permits, when seeing everybody gathering around a shop, got into the scene. The actors went on with the play, but everybody believed that the policemen were actors too. The audience started cheering the policemen saying: “You’re so cool! Take the stick out!” and the policemen got even more nervous. Suddenly the actor playing the firemen blew the blind down. The policemen, of course, wanted to see his id card. Everybody laughed and some said something like “You are such good actors!” They arrested the firemen and then the director had to go forward to explain that the situation was only a theatre performance. He was arrested too. The responsible from the Arts Council showed his certificate and the pertinent permits. He was also arrested. All the other actors carried on with the performance to the very end. The policemen were truly nervous and decided to drive the arrested to the police station. Everybody demonstrated against it clapping and smashing the car, greeting the police as they thought they were part of the show. The affair finished when the police released the prisoners at five o’clock in the morning.
In Múrcia: the action was taking place in the city center. The action started: The lady was accidentally trapped behind the roller blind of a shopping center, and some people asked every now and again what was going on. After a while, her friends had to arrive with help and start with all the fuss. However, on that day it was not possible: when the action began, the members of a basketball team, tall and strong, passed by and considered they had to help the lady out. Shouting: “Come on men, up with the blind and let’s get that lady out”. They knocked the blind down. The actress didn’t know what to do! They ruined the action down, and La Cubana had to pay for a new blind to the shopkeeper.
The most important anecdote of “mesa petitoria” does not belong to a particular performance but many performances all around, and all played by Carme Montornés. All actresses wore black as it is traditional in Spain, with the required mantilla and got dressed in a central storehouse which from there, either in couples or in groups, they moved to where the action was to be taking place. Carme was one of a kind: she always got out before time and always wanted to go on her own. It was fun to follow her around. She used to go shopping for her daily stuff… Dressed as the character she could perfectly enter into the chemists to get some aspirins. The comments she generated and her answering was so good, that one thought it be good to be recording it!
TOURS LA CUBANA
It was such a complex action, which generated a great deal of anecdotes, mainly by those who didn’t know what was all about and laughed at a bunch of actors acting funny in the middle of the street and, after the bus was gone, the actors changed clothes and ran to meet the same bus at some other corner. We have selected a couple of the funniest:
In Granada: three actors pretend to be Tarzans as they go half naked walking the street. From the bus the scene was explained as follows: “Granada, city for fairs and congresses, is celebrating these days the first Tarzan International Congress. The City Council, instead of hotels, has decided to make habitable the flowerbeds so the Tarzans may feel they are in their natural environment. In Granada, due to a confusion with the permits, when the bus passed by the flowerbed, we saw few policemen running after the Tarzans who were acting on the parcel. We had to change the text and once the performance was over, we had to go to the police station to release the actors.
In València: once the action was over, we were all very tired and went straight to the warehouse to change clothes and to have a shower. Montse Curtiada was dressed up as a nun, Mercè Comes as an air stewardess and Carmeta Milà was wearing a business suit as if she was an elegant woman from Zaragoza. Suddenly a boy assaulted them holding a knife and asking them to empty their handbags. The three victims were “shitting bricks”. The nun took out from her handbag some religious stamps and some blessed water. The air stewardess took from her handbag a biscuit and a whistle, and the woman from Zaragoza took out a typical bandanna from Zaragoza. The burglar’s face changed as the girls were showing their props. Then suddenly Jordi Milán, ignoring the whole situation and dressed up as an air force chief officer, appeared on the scene. The poor burglar turned white, started begging for forgiveness to Jordi and then disappeared as fast as a bullet. He believed Jordi was a policeman!