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U.S. premiere of 'Hierro' offers a glimpse of Cuban hero José Martí's private life

Daniel Romero as Hombre (left) and Caleb Casas as José Martí in 'Hierro' by Cuban playwright Carlos Celdrán
Sonia Almaguer
Daniel Romero as Hombre (left) and Caleb Casas as José Martí in 'Hierro' by Cuban playwright Carlos Celdrán

"I forgive you," says José Martí in Carlos Celdran's drama Hierro ('Iron'.)

The words are addressed to his would-be assassin. When the man balks at Marti's attempt at restorative justice, the latter replies, "I want to heal from what you did to me. Not from the poison wound but from the other one that you opened here."

Marti then takes the young man's hand and forcefully puts it against his own heart.

The scene is Alexa Kuve's favorite part of the whole play.

"It brings an impressive message — that is, forgiveness," she says. "And how we need to forgive in order to heal. As countries and as individuals."

Kuve is the executive and artistic director of Arca Images, which is bringing Celdran's play to Miami for its U.S. premiere. The play had previously only been performed in Cuba, Celdran's home country. The playwright, who now lives in Spain, also directs this production of Hierro.

Marti was a 19th century Cuban poet, essayist and journalist who became a symbol of Cuba’s struggle for independence from Spain.

Kuve says Hierro offers a glimpse into Marti's life that few people may be aware of. It examines the time he spent in exile in New York City. It also probes into subjects that his most ardent admirers might struggle with, including his infidelity to his wife.

"He was a man who suffered a lot with his health. He had a lot of health issues that he had to battle with," says Kuve.

Hierro is performed entirely in Spanish but with a simultaneous English translation. Offstage voice performers translate the stage dialogue in real time — and audience members listen through wireless headphones.

If you go:

Carlos Celdrán Hierro.

July 27 - Aug. 6.

Performances Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:30 p.m.; Sunday at 5 p.m.

Miami Dade County Auditorium
2901 W. Flagler St., Miami, FL

For more information: arcaimages.org

Christine DiMattei is WLRN's Morning Edition anchor and also reports on Arts & Culture.
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