Ivan Perez, a sound effects operator, a radio announcer, an actor, a writer, is considered the best music producer at the Cuban radio. He has directed radio dramas which have won awards at National Radio Festivals as well as National Awards by the National Union of Cuban Writers and Artists. Besides his merits, Ivan has a great virtue, modesty, through which he has gone unnoticed on many occasions by some people, although the Cuban people consider him as a fully integrated radio worker. He can be located every day at anytime at the Radio Progreso station.
— I was born on April 7, 1944, in Lima village located in the western province of Matanzas,
My mother, Araceli, a housewife, and my father Regino, a farmer, worked on the land, He mainly used to drive a cart with bullocks that carried sugar cane at harvest time. Some 40 days after I was born, I was brought to the capital to live in an apartment building in Old Havana, also I lived on Teniente Rey street No. 8, the latter I remember the most.
You’re an only child.
—I was at that time, but two years later, my brother Hector was born. I grew up there. I went to a school on Mercaderes street and my teacher was named Dorita. I already knew how to read when I started school, since I had a grandmother, Sarah Martinez, who was a teacher and also because my aunts Lydia, Hilda and Elsa- my mother’s sisters- used to buy me books and magazines. So, I learned how to read and write when I was just a child.
Tell me about your first visit to a radio station.
— In l948, I visited a radio station for first time: Cuban Radio Havana located at 53 Prado Street. In front of the radio station, I listened by loudspeakers to a chapter of the radio novel “Tamakún, el vengador errante” ( Tamakun, the wandering avenger) at 8:00 pm and then “ Lo que pasa en el mundo (What is happening in the world) program at 8.25 pm. I asked my parents if we could go in to attend the shows. We entered a studio covered with red curtains where I watched a comedy show in which actors Luis Echegoyen and Mario Gali put their make up on and dressed themselves to play the role of characters Mamacusa and Tachuela respectively. On another occasion, I also entered a studio where there were many orchestra seats and the “Rincon Criollo” show was broadcast live. It was a widely listened to show in which actors Pinelli and Emilio Medrano played the main roles.
And how did your brother and you get on in school. Tell me about this important activity.
— We went to several schools, but I remember most the “Academia Marti” school, which was located on Obrapia Street and then moved to Aguiar street. I was the school principal Miss Aida’s favorite pupil; she hoped I would become a teacher. —
I guess that when the television era came in 1950, your dreams of seeing your favorite artists –already known on the radio- came true.
Not at all! Dad was not interested in having a refrigerator or a television set, despite having gotten a job as a mechanic for the Otis Elevator Company with a good salary; he always thought of returning Lima and worked along with his brothers who owned a farm and lived in the village.
That’s why my brother Hector and I were regular radio listeners, especially of those adventures that were broadcast at that time: “ Los Tres Villalobos” (The Villalobos´s Brothers) at 12:00 am on the radio station called CMQ, “Taguary” at 12: 25 am on the CNC station and “Leonardo Moncada” at 7:00 pm on the CM station, that we used to listen to after we did our homework.
When and how did you started to work at radio?
— In 1957, Dad bought a modest house in Juanelo neighborhood and we moved there. There was a show –some years ago- called “Noticias a monton y chismes a granel” (A lot of news and gossip in bulk) on a station called ” La Voz del Aire “. Hector and I used to listened that show and once we decided to collaborate on it. The listeners who used to write for the show had to use a pseudonym. So Hector signed as “The collaborating Prince” and I as “The Young Man”.
Tell me about that first experience.
— The were many collaborators for the same show and only an old actor named Rogelio del Castillo; that’s why, a decision of perform sketches and short stories on Saturdays was taken due to the initiative of some of those collaborators. That way, Hector –at the age of 11 – and I –at 13 – made our acting debut on June 15 .
A writer named Humberto Alvarez del Castillo, invited us to participate in the same show on Wednesdays, on short stories based on Marti’s thoughts .—
And how long did you perform those short stories?
— From 1958, “La Voz del Aire Radio” show was called “Radio Voz”, with a style of work similar to the Radio Reloj station, and that is why the “A lot of news and gossip in bulk” show began to be broadcast on Artalejo Capital Radio on Saturdays station from Mondays; the owner was Arthur Artalejo, an announcer with great experience on the radio and later in television. Humberto began to enrich his stories and Artalejo suggested to change the schedule of the show: On Saturdays at 5:00 pm, this time under the title: “Templo Martiano” Marti’s Temple.—
I understand that Artalejo Radio station stopped broadcasting after 1959.
—Certainly, after the triumph of the revolution they took over the running of all stations; Radio Capital Artalejo station stopped broadcasting and “Templo Martiano” began to be broadcast on Cadena Oriental de radio, on Sundays at 7:00 pm. Up to that moment we were amateur actors, and we were asked to pass an exam announced by the Cuban Association of Theater Artists so we could work as professional actors. We did the exam and we passed it; however I did not pass the exam to become a teacher announced by “Normal de La Habana” School.—-
And when did you start to work as a radio professiona¬l?
— After broadcastings on Radio Cadena Oriental station went over and having become a professional actor I began to work on the Radio Rebelde station, in 1961. I worked on the “Jardin Infantil” show, in which I also produced some manual studio effects – something I did intuitively- since Ubaldo Lluch, the producer of effects, had the day off.
As in l963, Radio Rebelde station directed by Violeta Casal had increased its programming; I did a test for working as an operator of effects and passed it. From that moment I had two jobs; one of them as an actor for shows like “Las aventuras de Tom Sawyer” (The Adventures of Tom Sawyer) directed by Manuel Estanillo, “Una vela Blanca” (A white sail on the horizon) directed by Gerardo Santos, and the other one as a producer of sounds on shows like “La novella de las 8:00 pm.” The radio novel at 8:00 pm” and “Vivimos en campo alegre” (We live in Campo Alegre village “.—
I guess you had not much time for rest.
— I was so bold that I worked as an actor and as a producer of sounds on all radio drama on Radio Rebelde station from 1963 to 1966. I also worked as an announcer on shows like “El Cuento Cubano” (El Cuban storie), “Al mismo tiempo en la historia” (At the same time at the History) “Hombres de mar”(Men of sea), “El cine” (The Cinema) among others; and I directed the show “El cine del domingo” (Movie on Sundays).
I figure it out that you could not carry out artistic work in the neighborhood due to your other responsibilities.
— I always dedicated some time to that kind of work. In August l964, I created a theater environment in the patio of my house, in Juanelo. My father cemented a part of the land and turned it into a stage; he also managed the electric installation. My mother sewed the curtains, my brother Hector painted the sets, I was the director. We rented the chairs. Until 1967, we offered different theater shows (comedies, dramas and dubbing) for the neighbors around every two or three months. Would Hector and I be the community theater precursors? —
We have already talked about your professional development as an actor, a director, and a sound effects producer. What about music production on which you became a master.
— In 1966, I made my music producing debut, following the professional steps of masters Eduardo Paredes and José Luis Lobo. I was part of several radio dramas especially of “El verso y tu” (Poems and You); a show on poems, which I created and contributed to my professional development as a music producer. —
Up to that period of time, you worked on several local and national stations, although you made a great career on Radio Progreso station. When did you start there?
— In 1967, I was also part of Radio Progreso programming as an actor on “La gran aventura de la humanidad” (the great adventure of the mankind) and “Asi se forjo la patria” (That way, the nation was created). As a music producer, I worked on radio novels such as “La vida siempre empieza” (Life always starts over) by writer Iris Davila, who shattered preconceptions established up to that moment like the music of the radio show, which included modern music and ye-ye music. I was also part of other shows on the station under direction of directors like Julio Batista, from whom I learned a lot about the radio from, Gilberto Enriquez and Juan Carlos Romero .—
I think, I have seen your name on the list of credits of the shows on Radio Liberacion station.
—You are right. I had a great experience when I was called to work on “Diario de Campaña” show by the writer and director Gerardo Fernandez, in which the actor Alejandro Lugo played the role of Valeriano Weyler; but he had to travel abroad to perform on the film Prelude 11 and I was given the opportunity to replace him on the show. It was a great excitement for me when I opened the studio-four door on 23rd and M streets, and met outstanding Cuban actors such us José Corrales playing the role of Count Balmaceda, Antonio Miguel Suarez in the role of National Hero José Martí and Marcial Avellaneda as the independence leader Máximo Gómez., and Mario Blanco López was in charge of narration. —
What about the seventies for you?
— I had my first test as a music producer in year 1970, and I obtained category A.
From 1971 to 1979 I presented the show: “El mundo, nosotros y usted (The world, us and you) along with some actresses such as Carmen Pujol, her sister Yolanda Pujol, Elvira Cruz and Gina Cabrera; it was written and directed by Jackie de la Nuez.
In 1973, I replaced the actor Luis Alberto Ramírez to perform in one of the most listened to adventures on the radio at that time: “El vengador” (The Avenger) —
And when did you set up permanently at your work place, Radio Progreso station?
— After the reorganization of Radio Rebelde station programming in 1981 I came back to work on Radio Progreso station, where I have kept working until today. On this station I have lived most of my experiences as a music producer. Along with the sound effects producer Orlando Hernández Rivero and the recording artist Reinaldo Suarez we made a work team to produce new sounds for shows on Radio Progreso. Along with them, I was part of the first radio serial recorded at stereo sound for the program with over one hundred chapters: ” Gomez, America, un solo Corazon” (Gomez and America, only one heart). “Asi se forjo la patria” (The homeland creation) written and directed by Gilberto Enriquez, and “El 89” (The number 89). —
We have not talked yet about your work as a teacher, in which you also have left a great imprint.
— In 1987, as a response to a request by the ICRT Training Department, I planned the first course on radio music production, which was later applied at the television and I still teach all over the country. I think that almost all music producers at the radio and television in Cuba have been my students.–
And what about your work as a writer; I’ve heard of some works from your authorship.
— Well, I had the opportunity to write, something I used to fear. By the end of 1993, I wrote my first radio novel “Amor, Amor” (Love, love) for “La novela de las dos” program. I immediately wrote the second one: “Surge Belize” (Belize appearance). Then there I wrote a lot of them including novel versions such us “Gone with the Wind”. I also wrote the final of a radio novel unpublished by the Cuban author Dora Alonso entitled “Un grito en la montaña” A scream in the mountains.”
How has writing influenced you?
— It has given me a great satisfaction, mainly those kinds of works I have written – based on real facts or fiction- about my beloved and unforgettable village of San Antonio de Cabezas: the plays for radio: “En las sombras del batey’ (In the shadows of a hamlet) ” La fiestas del santo patron” (The patron saint’s ceremonies) and “Enmascarados” (Masked people) as well as the series: “Memorias de mi pueblo” (Memories of my people), among others. I expect to continue writing. Since April 3rd, 1999, I opened a club named “La peña de Pura Barquín”- a local pianist- at the Regino Pedroso cultural center in my hometown aimed at presenting radio and television colleagues for they to interchange with amateur artists. —
You have talked about the radio, but you have also made incursion – at a lower level- in television and the movies.
— As regards my works for the television I can mention “Un recital” (A concert) along with actress Gina Cabrera and on works by poet, dramatist and theater director García Lorca, which we later performed at the Terry Theatre in Cienfuegos province. As for my recent performances I played the role of a music production professor in the television series: “Polvo en el viento” (Dust in the Wind) and of an instructor on drugs in the crime television “Tras la huella” (Following tracks). —
I made my debut in the movies with the film: “El Benny” (The Benny) playing the role of a repressive and well dressed man. —
Would you, please tell me about all the prizes you have been given. Just tell me the most important.
— I have received many Awards like Caracol Awards from the UNEAC and those given at National Radio Festivals.
Some Caracol Awards I remember with pride and satisfaction include: The first one, that was awarded in year 1984 as a music producer on the novel: “Luis y John en Morazan” (Luis and John in Morazán) ; others for novels “Gomez, America un solo Corazon” (Gomez, America, and only one heart), ” El talisman” (The Talisman) , “Donde anidan las gaviotas” (Where the gulls nest”, among other.
Some awards from the National Radio Festivals include: “Corazon de gigante” (Heart of a Giant), “Las cronicas de Mixtle” (The Chronicles of Mixtle) among others.
Some CARICATO Awards by UNEAC include: as a leading actor in “Como sol de primavera” ( A sun in spring summer ) “Dia de cumpleaños” (Birthday) and “el fantasma de la opera” (The Phantom of the Opera), which I consider one of my most successful performances.
This man, who has devoted himself to the art, has also received important awards. Some of them include:
1986: Medal “Raúl Gómez García.” Distinction
1993: Medal “For National Culture.” Distinction
2002: Hallmark “80th Anniversary of the Cuban Radio”
2003: Hallmark “45th Anniversary of Radio Rebelde station”
2004: JULIO LOT Diploma from UNEAC “for his significant contributions to the Cuban Radio and the National Culture.
June 15th, 2007: Distinction for his 50 years of artistic life.
2009: Artist of merit of the Cuban radio and television Award
NOTE: Ivan Perez Ramirez. Matanzas province April 7th, 1944
A translation by: Silke Paez Carr