Yehuda Yannay’s ‘Insomnia in Havana’ is a new theater piece for a percussionist/actor, video projections, and electronic DJ. It takes off from a one-page story from 1946 by Virgilio Piñera, one Cuba’s most important 20th century playwrights. The story line is realized in sound, visuals and actions. The work is constructed in such a way as to allow some freedom of improvisatory interplay between the heard and seen. As the sleepless night evolves, Virgilio, the somnambulistic insomniac founds himself enmeshed in three visions of anectodical tales from the Buddhist and Taoist traditions. The percussionist and actor is Steven Butters.
This is the story
The man goes to bed early. He cannot go to sleep. He turns over in his bed, logically
enough. He twists the sheets. He lights a cigar. He reads a bit. He puts out the light
again. But he cannot induce sleep. At three in the morning he gets up. He awakens
his friend next door and confides in him; he cannot sleep. He asks for advice. The
friend advises him to take a walk and perhaps tire himself out; and then to drink a
cup of linden-tea and turn off the light. He does all these things but he does not
manage to sleep. Again he gets up. This time he goes to see the doctor. As always
happens the doctor talks a good deal, but the man still does not go to sleep. At six in
the morning he loads a revolver and blows out his brains. The man is dead but he
has not been able to get any sleep. Insomnia is a very persistent thing.