Alina Cenal, writer/performer of “Cuba: My Return” on connection, disconnection, and what inspired her to create her piece

“When you tell stories in the theatre, you go back into memory. You revisit your memories, not to live in the past but to keep memories alive. It gives the audience a heart-to-heart experience.

“We’ve all got stories. We’ve got to voice them and keep telling them. Especially for the next generation. Know your roots. 

“I was raised here but born in Cuba. For my entire life, I was not allowed back. But my Cuban root was pulling me and I yearned to visit my motherland. Finally, in 2015 because of Obama, I was able to go. 

“I found my people, my house, my nanny, and my motherland. I met the people of my country who’d never been to the US and saw how much we still have in common.

“Now I also teach children’s theater, and I see disconnection showing up with the kids who are stuck on their phones. I have one grandson who’s gone down a bad route on the internet. It’s disturbing. Some of the damage is out of control. 

“We’ve got to find a way to save our children from these gadgets. With a phone, you’re not connecting with what’s in front of you, you’re connecting with this little box and not seeing the bird that just landed on the tree, looking at the other bird. That’s life, you’re missing life. 

“To the youth, I’d say follow your passion and your dream. It takes hard work, but if you pursue what you really want to do, you make it happen. Stay away from the electronics; we’re losing the eye-to-eye connection. 

On being a woman —

“With three sisters, I’ve always been surrounded by strong women. As we go forward, we have to get even stronger and louder and voice who we are because it’s being taken away. Rights are constantly being threatened. I want to reunite all of us to keep going forward.”

To read more about Alina click here.