A Cuban-American woman is devastated when she learns that her son has enlisted in the military following the 9/11 attacks. The experience takes her back to her own childhood, where as a teenager she was forced to board a Miami-bound plane and leave her parents behind at the dawn of Fidel Castro’s rule.So begins Melinda Lopez’s “Sonia Flew,” the Davidson College Theater Department’s upcoming production which is serving as a catalyst for the multi-disciplinary symposium taking place on campus in January and February. “Cuba: Memory, Migration, Art” is a series of events that includes lectures, panel discussions, a dance workshop, film screenings and live theater – introducing the public to the history and culture of a fascinating country. Chris Alexander, McGee Director of the Dean Rusk International Studies Program, notes how important it is to have a symposium about Cuba. “Cuba’s unique history and culture have generated rich artistic traditions that remain unknown to too many people in the United States beyond the Cuban community,” he said. Alexander believes relations between Cuba and the United States will change in the coming years, and those changes will cultivate closer economic, social and political ties between the countries. “Beyond the joy that comes from learning about another culture, we will be better partners in building a new relationship if we have a deeper understanding of Cuban culture,” he said. Jane Mangan, an associate professor who specializes in early Latin American history, dubs the national histories of the United States and Cuba as “intertwined and ever-shifting.” She says, “An interdisciplinary symposium gives people the chance to learn about Cuba from different viewpoints (dance, personal memory, modern-day Havana architecture) and join that knowledge to the larger question that America addresses: How will Cuba – and thus our relationship with Cuba – look in five or 10 years?” Mangan has incorporated the symposium events into her classes, and she is looking forward to a six-week conversation about all things Cuban. And neither she nor Alexander can wait to see “Sonia Flew.” Alexander thinks audiences will connect with the production as it offers a window into the Cuban immigrant experience. “As all good art does, the play treats this specific story in a way that highlights the broad human challenges that characterize all immigrant experiences,” he said. Sharon Green, an associate professor and chair of the Theater Department, is directing “Sonia Flew.” “The play is about many things at once,” she said. “How memories of our childhood inform our adult lives; how cultural connections to a home can’t be cut even when you (leave); how parents’ choices and sacrifices made in the best interests of their children can be misunderstood by their children; and how things we remembered are later revealed to have a deeper truth. “To me as a parent, this play is a reminder that relationships can be healed, and that our best hopes for our children sometimes aren’t their own deepest desires,” Green continued.
Monday, Jan. 28, 2013
Davidson symposium focuses on Cuba
Events include lectures, panel discussions, a dance workshop, film screenings, theater
Want to know more? The “Cuba: Memory, Migration, Art” symposium began Jan. 23 with a documentary film viewing and discussion entitled “Habana: El Arte Nuevo de Hacer Ruinas/ Havana: The New Art of Making Ruins.” Other events include a discussion of the traditional Cuban rumba dance form, and a panel discussion by different generations of Cuban-American students and professors commenting on what their heritage means to them. The curtain rises on “Sonia Flew” on Feb. 20; and there will be a post-performance talkback Feb. 21. Feb. 22 will feature a Cuban dance party following that night’s production. Information about the symposium: www.davidsonedu/cubasymposium.