Rhapsody for the Mule

Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics
Performance on stage: Mariela Brito
Director: Nelda Castillo
June 2014
Montreal, Canada

After several years of conducting research on the streets, and with the group reduced to one performer (Mariela Brito), El Ciervo Encantado returned to the stage with a moving installation based on what its members found in the streets and parks across Cuba. Rapsodia para el mulo (Rhapsody for the Mule), inspired by José Lezama Lima’s poem by the same name, is presented as a painful ritual of weariness and outrage. Having become an ignorant pack animal, the human being accumulates the detritus of a past that offers no hope. The utopic vision of an ideal Cuba has its counterpoint in the complex processes taking place in contemporary Cuban society. Lezama Lima’s poem’s first stanza is never heard. As a matter of fact, the mule’s only utterance is at the close of the performance: “And in the end, what became of Cuba?” These words and the performance open up a space for the spectator, who is able to see a non-complacent image of him/herself. The body of performer/mule is our body, the body of a country bearing the weight of its  ruinous past.