Theater Opening: CELIA AND FIDEL (Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater in Washington, D.C.)

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by Tony Frankel on September 28, 2021

in Theater-Regional

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater is opening Eduardo Machado’s Celia and Fidel on October 8, 2021. It’s 1980 and Cuba is dealing with a failing economy. As Fidel Castro ponders on how to move his country forward, his political partner, Celia Sánchez, is never far from his side. Imbued with magical realism, Celia and Fidel is the dynamic story of radical change in Cuba featuring the country’s most notorious political figure and Cuba’s most influential female revolutionary.

Before suspending performances for the remainder of the 2019/20 season, Celia and Fidel premiered for 11 previews and its opening night but was forced to cancel performances due to the pandemic. Directed by Molly Smith, Celia and Fidel runs through November 21, 2021, in the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle.

“When we opened and closed on March 13, 2020, I could not imagine that a year and a half later we would be back in rehearsal,” shares Machado. “In that year and a half, I was able to think about the play; I have been able to fine tune the play. I am now confident that the play is expressing exactly what I intended to say.”

The cast of Celia and Fidel includes Marian Licha (Arena’s Anna in the Tropics, Destiny of Desire) as Celia Sánchez, Andhy Mendez (Folger’s Davenant’s Macbeth, Timon of Athens) as Fidel Castro, Liam Torres (INTAR’s Locusts Have No King) as Manolo Ruiz and Heather Velazquez (Lincoln Center’s Pipeline) as Consuelo.

“The story of Cuba is a story of power, and recently the Cuban people have again taken to the streets to protect their freedoms. Eduardo Machado’s passionate Celia and Fidel is a story of influence and passion,” explains Artistic Director Molly Smith. “As America saw a shift in power earlier this year, this is a fascinating time to observe dictators and reflect on their impact on modern society, particularly from a Cuban perspective. Celia Sánchez was the Mother of the Revolution. This play speaks to the current moment now as Cuba wrestles with freedom and authoritarianism, possibly loosening the grip that the Castro family and others have held with the Cuban people.”

Celia and Fidel is the seventh commissioned production to debut as part of Arena Stage’s Power Plays, an ambitious initiative commissioning and developing 25 new plays and musicals from 25 writers over the course of 10 years. With Power Plays, Arena Stage focuses Washington, D.C.’s unique theatrical voice on politics, power and ideas of America, amplifying the theater’s role as a national center dedicated to American voices and artists, located in the heart of the nation’s capital. The massive undertaking features one story per decade, beginning with 1776 through present day, and builds on the tremendous success of previous Arena Stage commissions and Power Plays, including Aaron Posner’s JQA, Lawrence Wright’s Camp David, John Strand’s The Originalist and Mary Kathryn Nagle’s Sovereignty.

photos by Margot Schulman

Celia and Fidel — a fictional play inspired by historic events
Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, 1101 Sixth Street SW in D.C.
Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle
plays October 8 – November 21, 2021
for tickets ($40-95) and schedule, call 202.488.3300, or visit Arena Stage


Karen Sugihara October 5, 2021 at 8:44 am

How do I get tickets?

Tony Frankel October 7, 2021 at 4:30 pm

For tickets, Karen, call 202.488.3300, or visit Arena Stage.

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