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Corina Mestre: “Art makes us change”

The outstanding Cuban actress and pedagogue received the National Artistic Teaching Award 2015

22 de diciembre de 2016 - By Jaime Masó

Cuban actress and pedagogue Co­rina Mestre Vilaboy has just received the National Artistic Teaching Award, convened by the Higher Art Institute, which will be granted to her this December 22 during a ceremony, on occasion of celebrating Teachers' Day in Cuba and the 55th anniversary of the Literacy Campaign, after which the Caribbean Archipelago was declared free territory of illiteracy in America.

Corina Mestre surprises all us when seeing her acting on television or cinema, and even when we hear her voice on the radio. Educator and faithful to her principles, Corina hates any kind of artificial pose; she is like any ordinary Cuban woman, even though everyone around her admires her natural talent.

If there is some quality that distinguishes her is, precisely, her rebelliousness, which makes us say: this woman is someone to be afraid of…

Must be in the genes. The women of my family have a very strong personality; I think I am the least strong of all (she laughs). My mother has a superhuman strength. Besides my rebellious nature, I have a very wide sense of justice. I can't bear a slap on anyone's face. It might be a pose, but it is not. I tell you again: I can't bear injustices, this gets me all worked up and puts me into a very strong state of mind, because I can't take it at all. In fact, at times I get into other people's business. All of the sudden something is happening to someone and I get my nose into the matter, though it is not my problem, but, yes, it is my problem.

Was it a purpose from the very start to bring all that to the screen, or have someone had the good sense of seeing that quality?

Honestly, I don't know. Deep down, I am rather an artist than an actress, that's why I'm here. Anyhow, if I realized all I want to do is in another area, I'd probably leave that for this.

Like the old saying: Being a little girl, you wanted to become an actress…

No, none of that. That story I desguised is false. Being a girl I recited poetry, I was part of the New Trova Movement, in other words, I lived. My home was next to Teatro Estudio, my mum served protecting the place with Raquel Revuelta.

Sometimes, I was allowed to accompany them, look for the thieves. At that time, I did many things. Afterwards, I showed up at the Higher Art Institute, and registered at the degree courses for workers.
Once I learned I was accepted, I applied to quit at the Minint -Ministry of Interior-, which I definitely did in December, 1980. I tell you again, I was in Teatro Estudio, I was like the little pet, watching the rehearsals…

Was that decision totally accepted by all at home?

I remember once my mother asked Raquel Revuelta to see one of the works I acted, to tell her I was very bad to become an actress.
That day Berta Martínez, Vicente and Raquel Revuelta went to see the play. I wanted to die, was afraid to go out the dressing room. But, well, at the end, I acted; once it was over, I went to the dressing room until they  went away. When I went down, all were there, and Raquel Revuelta told me: “you will become an actress”. Then, Vicente and Berta congratulated me and when I got home, my mother told me a lot of things; she even fought with Raquel, until she forgot everything. I left Minint where I earned around 300 Cuban pesos, and started working at Teatro Estudio where I was paid some one-hundred and something pesos; my mother was very upset for this, as she said that being an actress was the worst thing in the world.

Did she overcome all that?

Yes. My mother is brilliant, she is very open minded. I admire her a lot, and you may see how my eyes light up whenever I speak of her.

Nobody tried to persuade you to leave Cuba?

It's not just that. I've had work offers to be outside Cuba. But I am very clear about what Homeland, Identity and Revolution mean. There is a stage play named Puerto de coral -Coral Harbour-, by Maikel Chávez, which gave me the possibility of saying what I think as regards to generations. I am here because this is the only place where I want to die.

fter so many years of receiving awards and recognitions for your work… Have you ever thought of quitting acting and teaching?

No. Never. Not even at the most difficult times.

Is it possible to solve some problems of the current Cuban society, such as loss of values, etc., by means of acting?

It is very hard from acting, and better from art. I've always thought this: politics divides us, as well as religion and languages... However, when we are in front of a masterpiece, we start to feel certain things that lead us to emotions. When you feel and get excited, you are able to change.

It is not only what I do, what all art can be done as to changing the individual, touching the most sensitive areas to make him/her reflect. If there is a loss of values, is due, among other things, to the fact that people have taken art out of their lives.