The Cuban actress Corina Mestre Vilaboy has been honoured this January with the National Theatre Award 2022. Mestre has been a household name for several generations of Cubans as a result of her long and illustrious career in theatre, television, radio and cinema on the island.
The jury of the 2022 National Theatre Award, organised by National Council for the Performing Arts (CNAE), was chaired by Dagoberto Gaínza, the 2021 award winner, and made up of other well respected figures from the theatre world, Marilyn Garbey, Eduardo Arrocha, Fátima Patterson and Eugenio Hernández Espinosa.
Born in Havana in 1954, Mestre graduated with a degree in Performing Arts (1981) from the ISA (Havana’s multi arts university), and was a student of Vladimir Pieshkin, teacher of the famous innovative, cross-arts Taganka theatre under the direction of Yuri Liubimov in Moscow.
In 1968 Mestre joined the Nueva Trova Movement, interpreting poems and songs, and in 1970 the student theatre movement, where she won awards at several festivals.
In 1981 she began to work in the Grupo Teatro Estudio, directed by Raquel Revuelta. With that company she performed in more than 70 works, including ‘Don Gil de las calzas verdes’, ‘El oso’, ‘La duodécima noche’, ‘Macbeth’, ‘Bodas de sangre’ (Blood Wedding), ‘La zapatera prodigiosa’, ‘Los pasos’, ‘Las medallas de la señora Ana’, ‘La ronda’, ‘La opinión publica’, ‘La verbena de la paloma’, ‘Morir del cuento’, ‘Una lata de pintura’, ‘Vivimos en la ciudad’, ‘Donde crezca el amor’, ‘El becerro de oro’ y ‘Te sigo esperando’.
Corina also has extensive experience in children’s theatre, she has worked on versions of literary classics such as Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and Momo, the latter by Michel Ende, with her and Augusto Blanca’s adaptations and music by Augusto Blanca. For Cuban television she has recorded soap operas and many drama series, among which stand out ‘Passion and Prejudice’, The echo of the stones, The house of Bernarda Alba, Going out at night and Double game, as well as several teleplays.
As for radio, her work is heard on the radio stations Radio Habana Cuba and Habana Radio, voice of the City Historian’s Office. ‘Vals de la Habana Vieja’ (1988) was her first foray into film. Between 1984 and 1989 she was an assistant professor at the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) and from 1998 to 2005, full professor and head of the Acting department at ISA. She now teaches actors, directing and stage direction workshops at the San Antonio de los Baños International Film School (outside Havana).
Mestre has taught on master’s degrees in acting in Mexico and Santiago de Compostela, Spain. She has also participated in important international theatre events such as the Cervantino Festival, the Sitges Festival and the Moscow Theatre Festival, among others, and has performed in Venezuela, Mexico, Portugal, Nicaragua, Angola, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and the United States.
“I believe that postmodernity is no more than revisiting the classics with a satirical or other view, that is what I think postmodernity is, speaking in a very tight synthesis… I believe in the indispensable necessity of the classics as a reference for the formation of new generations but I think that it is fundamental that people speak to their contemporaries.” Corina Mestre
Watch this interview with Corina Mestre from October 2020, no English subtitles but you can set subtitles to auto-translate into English.