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One of the most outstanding personalities of the Cuban vernacular theater which appeared in Cuba after the Independence War in 1868 was the artist Arquímedes Pous (Cienfuegos, 1891/Mayagüez 1926). Pous was very well known by the several characters he performed - especially the "little black" that along with the "mulato woman" and the "Galician" represented the most popular trilogy at that time. He also worked as author, director, scenographer, choreographer, dancer and businessman.
When he died on April 16th 1926 in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico as the consequence of a peritonitis when he was about to turn 35 he had already achieved such popularity that he was as famous as actor Rodolfo Valentino. "Arquímedes Pous restaure the depuration of the local vignette (...) he revived the prestige of the talent of the platforms of our farce (...)and he create such a repertoire where everything is honest humor, ethic talent that he used to glorify the Cuban mind (...)he was never rude, vile nor impolite.
This valoration about him was expressed by the Cuban poet and playwright Gustavo Sánchez Galárraga during the tribute paid to him at theater Regina, in Havana, during an anniversary of his death. He is a paradigmatic personality from the Cuban theater. He was born on May 18th 1891, in the city of Cienfuegos, but his career has not be deeply studied by the specialists.
He was very versatile while performing different characters like little blacks, Galicians, drunk men, fools. He used his talent to remove vice and vulgarity from the Cuban stages, but without removing double meaning and coquetry that characterized the vernacular genre.
Enrique Arredondo, the last "little black" of the Cuban stages and also remembered by his character of Cheo Malanga on the TV show San Nicolás del Peladero, considered that the actor from Cienfuegos lead this genre to that of light operas. Good scenographies were very typical of him. It could be said that he lives a century in advance.
Apart from his talent as an actor he was also a successful businessman and was able to meet important personalities like Mexican actress Luz Gil, and Cuban actresses like Mimí Cal and Conchita Llauradó. His works were supported by the music of Ernesto Lecuona, Moisés Simons and Jorge Ackerman. He created pieces like the trilogy of Papá Montero, The mulato women from Bambay and Your majesty and summer.
He was successful in Cuba and in the U.S.A, Canada, Mexico, Dominican Republic and Porto Rico where he ended a career that started in 1906, when he was 15 years old at the Actualidades theater located at the corner of streets Santa Cruz and San Luis.
His family was wealthy and expected him to become a doctor, but he left his studies to become an actor and after performing in several provinces he moved to Havana where he premiered him first piece at the Martí theater. In July 1911 he was invited to that same theater to perform his "little black" character and the critics from that time wrote that he received a warm welcome and so many applause as any other actor.
He started to work in another theater in Havana during that same year. He was so successful that the newspaper El teatro alegre organized a survey to choose the best and most likable "little black" character which was won by him. He performed in several Cuban and foreign stages until he died in Porto Rico.His remains, brought to Cuba in 1930 are placed at the Colon cemetery.
Cienfuegos has a debt with the greatest artist of this city. Pous needs a public bust of him to be relocated at the José Martí square on April 16th, 1950 by an idea of journalist Nick Machado. The bust of Pous was removed from the square due to an official who said he did not belong to that place.
So, the bust was taken to the Tomás Terry theater where it was placed to a corner. If he used this same criteria, then the sculpture of Benny Moré would be in danger because it was placed at the Prado avenue, because it was not included in the original design. The same destiny would be given to sculptures like that of John Lennon, Don Quixote and the Paris Gentleman placed in different squares from Havana and others in the rest of the country.
Among all these sculptures is the one located to the side of the Manzanillo bay. In congress and meetings of UNEAC, and declarations by the Historian of Havana in which he defended the idea of rescuing the past and remove the insane tendency to delete our history, monuments and statues.
If during the 24th anniversary of his death there was a public support to pay a tribute to such important personality from the city, now it would be very important to pay a similar tribute to him when we are celebrating the city´s 200 anniversary and place the sculpture at least at UNEAC´s Gardens and remove it from a dark corner in which it is placed today.
(Taken from 5 de Septiembre)
Translated by: Osmany Ortiz González (Azurina)