Bulletin of Hispanic Studies

Ikú, Cumachela and the Figure of Death in María Antonia by Eugenio Hernández Espinosa

Bulletin of Hispanic Studies (2019), 96, (9), 969–983.

Abstract

This article examines the figure of death in Eugenio Hernández Espinosa’s play María Antonia (1967) and Sergio Giral’s cinematic adaptation (María Antonia, 1990), focusing on the gendered performance of death through the character of Cumachela and her relationship with the work’s eponymous protagonist. First considering the depiction in the play of death (Ikú) as a figure with whom the living can interact within the framework of the Cuban Santería/Regla de Ocha religion, I then explore the presentation of Ikú as an omnipresent agent within the play and the manner in which this female iteration of death both reinforces and challenges patriarchal social and religious frameworks examined therein. Further, I draw on work by scholars of urban decay in Havana to analyse the inscription of death into the fabric of the city and the ways in which Cumachela/ Ikú’s performance renders her part of the palimpsest of the Cuban capital through her physical and conceptual association with its ruins.

En este artículo se propone examinar la figura de la muerte en la obra teatral María Antonia de Eugenio Hernández Espinosa (1967) y su adaptación cinematográfica (María Antonia, 1990) de Sergio Giral, centrándose en la representación generizada de la muerte, encarnada en el personaje de Cumachela, y en la relación entre ésta y la protagonista epónima de la obra. Primero, se considera la manera en que la obra representa a la muerte (Ikú) como una figura dentro del marco religioso cubano de la Santería/ Regla de Ocha con que los individuos pueden interactuar; desde allí se explora la omnipresencia de este personaje en María Antonia, tanto como la manera en que esta versión femenina de la muerte reafirma y cuestiona simultáneamente las estructuras sociales y religiosas del patriarcado examinadas en la obra. Es más, recurre a los estudios del declive urbano en La Habana para analizar la inscripción de la muerte en el entramado de la ciudad y el proceso por el cual Cumachela/ Ikú se convierte en una parte del palimpsesto de la capital cubana por medio de la asociación física y conceptual que surge entre ella y las ruinas urbanas.

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Filmography

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Details

Author details

Humphrey, Paul