This October, several cities in the United States will play host to La Colmenita, a renowned children’s theater group from Cuba. La Colmenita, which means The Little Beehive, will be performing “Abracadabra” in Washington, D.C., New York and San Francisco. The traveling theater group will be here as part of a goodwill mission.
The History of La Colmenita
La Colmenita was founded by Carlos Alberto Cremata to pay homage to his father, who was killed in a 1976 terrorist attack on Cuban Airlines flight 455. Cremata’s father was very involved in the community and loved theater and music. La Colmenita began in Havana as a small community theater and relied on volunteer help from children, parents and grandparents to succeed. By 1990, fourteen years after its inception, La Colmenita became a fully functioning children’s theater.
La Colmenita’s Mission
La Colmenita was developed with the specific purpose of conveying a message of peace, humanity and forgiveness. As official UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors, the children of La Colmenita are required to demonstrate these values not only in their performances but in their daily lives. Cremata believes that children are born without fear or prejudice, and he hopes the message conveyed by La Colmenita’s performances will kindle the same feelings of acceptance in its audiences.
The Participants in La Colmenita
What began as a small community theater in Havana has expanded to encompass 21 new colmenitas across Cuba, as well as chapters in Spain, Colombia, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic. The current touring company of La Colmenita is comprised of 22 children ranging in age from six to fifteen. They perform in Spanish with translations appearing above the stage. For this reason, they are best seen by audiences who are either fluent in Spanish or can read the English text.
The Current Production
La Colmenita’s current production, Abracadabra, was written by the children themselves. It is based on the true story of five Cubans who were convicted in 2001 and are being held in the United States on charges of espionage and conspiracy. In the play, the children transform into famous characters from children’s literature and work together to free the prisoners. Using magic, Peter Pan, Tom Sawyer, the Little Prince, Mafalda and Pippi Longstocking join forces to fight for the prisoners’ freedom while promoting a message of love and understanding between the United States and Cuba.
Abracadabra is a high-energy musical that combines rock and roll, fairy tales and messages of peace and justice. With bright costumes and loads of enthusiasm, the children of La Colmenita hope to honor the prisoners, who are hailed as national heroes in Cuba, as well as reach out to Americans in peace and goodwill.
La Colmenita last visited the United States in 2003. Nearly ten years later, they are again gracing this country with their enthusiasm and creativity. They hope that all who see their show will leave with a greater understanding of Cuban people and a better appreciation for the creative ties that bind all humanity.