‘Fatima Patterson, race, gender and theatre’, the recent 43 minute documentary by Juanamaría Cordones-Cook presents the personal and artistic journey of Fátima de la Caridad Patterson (Santiago de Cuba 1951), storyteller, actor, theatre director, and playwright, who has been distinguished with the Premio Nacional de Teatro 2017, the highest theatre award in Cuba.
Founder of the Macubá theatre group in Santiago de Cuba, Fátima combats disremembering. She addresses issues of race, gender, and popular religion, through theater and oral history, a genre she masterly practices and incorporates in her artistic work. In a combination of performances, rhythms, and dances, this documentary presents the origin and development of this charismatic artist who with a strong sense of belonging brings to her creations her personal experience intertwined with traditions and components of the ancestral African heritage.
The film is enriched by comments of leading Cuban intellectuals, Alberto Lescay Merencio, Enrique Bonne, Vivian Martínez Tabares, Georgina Herrera, Orlando Vergés, and Marino Wilson Jay, complemented by images of Santiago with music by José Aquiles Virelles Rodríguez and the Conga de los Hoyos.
US filmmaker Juana Cordenes-Cook has just made a full length documentary about Fatima: Fatima Patterson, race, gender and theatre – you can watch the trailer with subtitles here
The full documentary is 43 minutes long with English subtitles. Direction and production by Juanamaría Cordones-Cook.
Patterson’s artistic career began in 1970, as an actress on radio and television programs, which she later directed. After that she joined Santiago de Cuba’s Cabildo theater company, where she came into contact with elements of traditional popular culture and Afro-Cuban religion.
In May, 1992, she founded the Macubá collective – a play on the words Madre and Cuba (Mother Cuba) – renowned for its investigative work and use of theater to confront life experiences; explore popular religions, traditions, and elements of Cuban folklore such as patakines (religious laws based on historic teachings and stories) and oral traditions of the palo monte and vudú belief systems, as well as Caribbean poetry.
Her vast array of works include Santiaguerías, Ayé N´fumbi (World of the dead), Repique por Mafifa, Iniciación en blanco y negro para mujeres sin color and Ropa de plancha.
Oral narrative plays a fundamental role in the playwright’s work, which is why she considers herself to be an actress who tells stories, rather than a story-teller. What is more, her love of oral traditions led her to found and direct the International Biennial of Oral Traditions.