Photo Flash: Meet the Cast of CELIA AND FIDEL at Arena Stage

By: Jan. 28, 2020

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater presents the world premiere of Eduardo Machado's (Havana Is Waiting, The Cook) Celia and Fidel. 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. Directed by Molly Smith, Celia and Fidel runs February 28 through April 12, 2020 in the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle.

Machado, a Cuban native, has penned dozens of plays about his home country, but this will be his first time bringing Fidel Castro to the stage. He chose to set this play during a critical moment in Cuban history to show what can happen when a nation and its people have their fate decided by one man.

"Even though Fidel Castro has had an unseen presence in many of my plays, I avoided bringing him on stage until now," explains Machado. "Representing an icon like Castro is problematic as his likeness and mythology are so familiar that many have already made up their mind about him whether they realize it or not. I wouldn't have taken on Fidel unless I saw an opportunity to use the glow of his persona to illuminate a lesser-known female leader of the Revolution, Celia Sánchez."

"Celia was the first female soldier in the rebel army and was Fidel's right hand for the first 20 years of the Revolution," Machado continues. "I hope that Celia and Fidel and the relationship we are putting onstage will help to elevate Celia to what I see as her rightful place, even as it aims to humanize Fidel and the Revolution."

Making his Arena Stage debut and stepping into the role of Fidel Castro is Robert M. Jimenez (Broadway's Take Me Out). Returning to Arena Stage is Marian Licha (Arena's Anna in the Tropics, Destiny of Desire) as Celia Sánchez. Also making their Arena debuts are Liam Torres (INTAR's Locusts Have No King) as Manolo Ruiz and Heather Velazquez (Lincoln Center's Pipeline) as Consuelo.

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Page 2- Cast and creative team announced for Celia and Fidel

"Castro and Cuba stand large in America's collective imagination making this an ideal Power Play. There are very few plays about Castro and his compatriots - usually we see him only in documentaries. Our Power Play Cycle is the perfect time to dive into these controversial subjects," shares Artistic Director Molly Smith. "Eduardo Machado is an important voice in the American theater. This is a dynamic play delving into the complexity of the brain and heart of Fidel Castro and his trusted advisor Celia Sánchez. Celia was one of the great thinkers of the revolution, yet she was hidden in plain sight from most of the world. In Cuba, she was considered the Mother of the Revolution. This premiere takes us to Cuba in 1980 during the drama of the Mariel Boatlift."

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.

In addition to Smith, the creative team includes Set Designer Riccardo Hernández, Costume Designer Alejo Vietti, Lighting Designer Nicole Pearce, Sound Designer Roc Lee, Dialect and Vocal Coach Lisa Nathans, Casting Director Victor Vazquez, CSA, Stage Manager Susan R. White and Assistant Stage Manager Allie Roy.

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