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2 sister--plays and a Cubano.

WHAT PROPELS PRESTON, A HANDSOME GRINGO from Portland who now heads Havana's tourist commission, to ask Belen, a young Cuban actress, to engage in fantasy role-playing games? In The Color of Desire, Nilo Cruz's suggestive and erotic play at Actors' Playhouse in Coral Gables, Fla., Preston wants the impressionable Belen to dress up as his old lover, Emilia. "Are you confusing me with a call girl?" Belen wonders.


Perhaps Preston seeks to see revenge enacted. Belen just auditioned for (but lost) a role in a Havana production of Calderon's Life Is a Dream, in which the character Rosaura disguises herself as a man to seek vengeance against Astolfo, who had wronged her. Or maybe, as the play slyly suggests, Preston's sex games might be an expression of a colonial mentality. "I've never written about Americans in Cuba," says Cruz, the first Latino dramatist to win the Pulitzer Prize (for Anna in the Tropics). "I wanted to write a play about how we project a past relationship onto a new lover." The Color of Desire takes place at the height of Fidel Castro's 1960s revolution, when businesses were being nationalized. "A lot of the mind games Preston has with this woman could be happening because she is the only one he feels he has control over," Cruz says.

The Color of Desire, which has been developed at the Eugene O'Neill Theatre Center in Waterford, Conn., and Cape Cod Theatre Project of Falmouth, Mass., runs through Nov. 7 at Actors' Playhouse. It is part of Florida's informal Cruz play festival, which includes Ringling International Arts Festival's commissioned premiere of Cruz's Hurricane, Oct. 13-17, at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota. "Hurricane is a parable," the writer says, "about the aftereffects of a catastrophe. It touches very much on how spirituality manifests itself into action--into generosity." About 40 minutes long, Hurricane happens in a vague South Pacific setting that could also be Puerto Rico or Haiti. "I think these plays are less poetic than my earlier work--they are a departure for me," ventures Cruz, whose deeply moving dreamscapes are, regardless of provenance, disarming journeys into romance, fantasy and beguiling invention.

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Title Annotation:CORAL GABLES AND SARASOTA, FLA.; The Color of Desire
Author:Gener, Randy
Publication:American Theatre
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2010
Previous Article:Slings and arrows galore.
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