14 de julio de 2024

Radio 26 – Matanzas, Cuba

Emisora provincial de Matanzas, Cuba, La Radio de tu Corazón

Premiere of «Habibi»: violence and seduction on stage

Silvia Barreiros, director of the company Apsara, reveals one of its transcendent merits: the virtue of changing the cast, the language and the gestures in each of the presentations of her plays in different countries.


Bold in her themes and staging, the versatile Swiss playwright Silvia Barreiros premiered her play «Habibi» at the Sauto Theater in Matanzas, with the impact of exposing the growing affront to women, often hidden in the intimacy of the home, an opprobrium that has no borders, social classes or races, rooted in millenary traditions of seduction and violence.

Estrenan "Habibi": violencia y seducción a las tablas

In the course of this 21st century, the story of a couple, married for twenty years, appears on the boards, in which the line between love and social and maternal dependence, seals a relationship that allows the director to move the events of the protagonists to present them in their passionate and fierce dimension, both physical and psychological.




«Habibi», in the delicate skin of actress Liliana Lam, represents a successful woman in the professional sphere, mother and wife with an air of emancipation and comfort, tied to a «man», forged in the powerful figure of actor Alberto Corona, who with a belt inherited from his parents, symbolizes a being of less intellectual predominance but, fascinating, possessive and punishing before any sign of female superiority, who continually asks for forgiveness before his faults until reaching dire consequences.

Alberto Corona, el Hombre


Silvia Barreiros, director of the Apsara company, reveals one of its transcendent merits: the virtue of changing the cast, the language and the gestures in each of the presentations of its plays in different countries.

The performances were applauded by the audience, as there was coherence in the interpretations of Anabel Arencibia, Oscar Ibarra and Peter Rojas.

El Embajador de Suiza en Cuba junto a Silvia Barreiros en el estreno de Habibi,. Teatro Sauto, Matanzas

The Swiss Ambassador to Cuba with Silvia Barreiros at the premiere of Habibi, at the Sauto Theater in Matanzas.


Among the excited audience, this Sunday afternoon in the colossus of Matanzas, National Monument, was the Ambassador of the Swiss Confederation in Cuba, H.E. Mr. Stefano Vescovi, along with other officials and admirers of the work of Silvia Barreiros, who are waiting for its staging in Havana, which is announced for the Adolfo Llauradó hall, on the 29th and 30th of this year.

This is a play staged in just four weeks, which showed the hard work of the actors, the dramaturgical conjugation and the excellent scenic movement of the characters in communion with the musical and scenographic elements, minimalist style, which had the sound design, this time Cuban style, by Ondina Duany, musical director of the company and Daniel Mejías, in the lights, plus Mario Enrique Briño, in the sound.

La Barreiros, born in Montreux in 1964, works as an actress, playwright and director; with plays exhibited in Cuba, Brazil, Spain, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, El Salvador, Senegal, Israel, Lebanon, Peru, Bolivia, Haiti, Ivory Coast and the United States. In 2001, she created the company Apsara, with stories about women, as well as giving workshops on gender violence in the cities where she travels.

Previously and with great success, in December 2022 the company exhibited at the Sauto Theater the play Zokwezo, written by Julien Mabiala Bissila, with the translation and general direction of the theatrical director.

The company has already visited Cuba five times and was praised by critics during the staging of the play «No es tiempo de sirenas».


Silvia Barreiros’ press statements

After the premiere of «Habibi» at Sauto Theater, playwright and director Silvia Barreiros gave us these statements:

«This play represents the existing gender social situation in the world, adapted to the atmosphere of Cuba: its dicharachos, rhythms, ways of being, linked to the main male character, Cuban-Spanish, and the contemporary Cuban woman. In December 23, I came to make a casting, and I selected these five wonderful actors, and in a month, we mounted the play, working intensely, and finally we premiered in this beautiful theater.

«I proposed that it should be a couple without economic difficulties, because this violence is general, not only among poor people, as they pretend to say, which shows that an intelligent, beautiful woman, with managerial positions, can fall into the trap of an abuser.

«It is a spiral, where a charming man seduces her, and little by little tells her «I don’t like that dress», «don’t talk», «don’t publish anything», «don’t go out», «don’t answer me» and so he locks her up to possess her completely, and isolates her from the family, from friends, from work, with intimate emotional blackmail, with criticism of her attention to the child, to the house and, generally, progressive blows to the body or the mind appear before any rebellion and she comes to feel guilty.

«The woman does not want to forgive him, but he returns to being seductive, loving, detail-oriented, and she falls back into his arms until the cycle restarts with the loss of her self-esteem and spiritual security.

«The play is tough in general. In countries like Switzerland it comes across as a punch to the status quo, so with the music we softened the dramatic tension, a respite almost.

«When we were in Tunisia, we held workshops with psychologists, improvising on the theme, with the participation of women’s associations that fight against gender violence».

About upcoming presentations Barreiros specified.

«We will launch this same project in Africa, in Benin, which we estimate will last about two years, because it will include young amateurs, in which actors from Canada, Spain and Switzerland will take part, and then it will be Habibi in an African version. Then we will tackle a new hot topic, which is the exclusion of women on that continent from the right to inheritance.

«We have received great acceptance for each project presented in the different countries, even in places where there is a strong patriarchal tradition, not to mention that there were men who stood up during the performances.

«There are women who have cried, because they see family tragedies reflected. In the schools, with the children, in the reading of the texts before psychologists, we have also received receptivity.

«We are thrilled by the reception our works have received in Cuba. The message is that we have to talk, there is fear and blackmail is manipulated with the children, but we need to become aware that this discrimination should not be allowed. The violation of these gender rights is condemned by law».

Written by María Elena Bayón.







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