FAU Theatre Lab Presents - Cuban Courage
by N. Jacobsen | Monday, Apr 30, 2018
Theatre Lab, the professional resident company of Florida Atlantic University’s Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, will present the musical “Cuban Courage,” a world premiere by Mark Walter Braswell. The story is of a Cuban couple’s difficult decision in 1961 to send their only son, Carlos, alone to Miami to keep him safe and free from communist indoctrination. The play will be presented on Friday, May 11 and Saturday, May 12 at 7:30 p.m. at the Heckscher Stage in Parliament Hall, 777 Glades Road, Boca Raton campus. Tickets are $20 and there is free parking in Garage II, adjacent to Parliament Hall. Tickets can be purchased at www.fauevents.com or by calling 561-297-6124.
Imagine a boy being placed on a plane in Havana, bound for Miami, and his parents staying behind. Imagine that child arriving not knowing anyone in this new country or its language. And imagine this departure taking place as the revolutionaries in Cuba are establishing a communist government and rapidly restricting travel and personal freedom. These events come to life in “Cuban Courage,” which is based on the true story of the child exodus called Operation Pedro Pan. In that secret plan, more than 14,000 children were flown without their parents from Havana to Miami between December 1960 and October 1962.
Braswell first learned of this historical event more than 15 years ago when a friend in Washington, D.C., shared that he was one of thousands of children who fled from Cuba in the Operation Pedro Pan exodus.
“In sharing the story, Lari told me about ‘la pecera,’ the glassed-in area at the Havana airport designed to separate parents from their children waiting to depart,” Braswell said. “I couldn’t imagine the anguish this must have caused those families. That moment of the story had a big impact on me.”
After writing another historically based musical, Braswell decided to learn more about Operation Pedro Pan and soon felt compelled to write a dramatized version of it for the stage. In 2013, Braswell moved to Miami where he conducted research and personal interviews, as well as later showcased songs from the musical.
“I wanted to give an idea through my characters of what they went through,” Braswell said. “As I learned of the sacrifices these families made in order to protect their children, I quickly realized that this story was actually one of courage, Cuban courage.” I
n the musical, although Carlos adjusts to camp life in Florida and then to his foster family in Iowa, the painful memories of his exodus haunt him. He eventually reconnects with his past and embraces his future. “We are honored to present this world premiere that tells an important story in our country’s history,” said Lou Tyrell, Theatre Lab artistic director and Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters. “Part of our mission at Theatre Lab is to bring these stories to light in ways that only live theater can.”