Magician Manuel Romero Gascó

He takes a paper boat in his hands and the transport becomes another figure, and another, and another... The magician Manuel Romero Gascó visited Las Tunas during the last Ánfora festival and I still seem to see him perform at the José Martí provincial library because good performances are not forgotten and, although one does not know for sure where the trick was and, although perhaps the little ones do not remember his name, surely - like me - they remember how he made them feel. That is why, mounted on an imaginary paper boat, I go back to look for it. Magic can do anything.

And I bring him back. The performance ends and he sits down to talk to me, puppet in hand, in one of the many chairs in the institution of knowledge named after the Apostle. Let's see, where do I start, he is capable of pulling questions out of his hat and turning me from interviewer to interviewee. But no. Gascó is a cool person, who tells me with complete frankness that he was surprised when he was awarded the National Circus Prize in 2022 and treats me as if he has known me all his life. So, the dialogue doesn't take long...

- Tell me about that moment, how did you feel?

It was a real surprise. There are many artists of a high level. Besides, the circus encompasses many manifestations, magic is just a drop in the bucket of this beautiful monster. When they gave me the award, I didn't think that they were awarding it to me, but to magic and, with it, to so many others who deserve this award, and it was the first time that magic was awarded in this way, instituted in 2020. It was a great thing.

- How much magic is there in this symbiosis of yours between Prestidigitation and Literature? How did the letters come to express your magical heartbeat?

It's simply my desire to cover a lot. I have been a magician since I was 12 years old, when I learned with my teacher Alberto Puyal, at the School of Magic in Santiago de Cuba. But literature (poetry at first and then narrative) has accompanied me to the point that I studied literature professionally. I graduated with a degree in that specialty and I have to do both things at the same time. I even write the scripts for the shows I present, not only for myself but also for the company Variedades Santiago, which I directed for many years, from a general and artistic point of view.

Today I am proud to have published, in addition to Por el mar de las Antillas, Tornados de Piedralisa. Both books were published by the Spanish publisher Ledoria and were presented in May 2023 at the Toledo Book Fair.

- The José Martí provincial library in Las Tunas already has a copy of Por el mar de las Antillas, donated by you. It is interesting how working for a children's audience has marked a large part of your life and work.

I am inspired by my love for children, I work for them, I create for them, and I dream for them. This particular text is not magic in the full sense of the word, as it covers a little more. I want them to go to poetry, which is why I dedicate the book to Nicolás Guillén, as the title suggests. I want children to learn about origami, that is, to make figures by simply folding paper. An interesting mixture is summed up in papiromagic.

- If you could hypothetically travel back in time and say something to the 12-year-old Gascó, what would you tell him?

He should be interested in art in general, that he should study, read a lot, learn as much as possible about the different manifestations..., to become an integral artist. The more levels we have, the better our magic will be. That's what all magicians should do.

- What does Las Tunas mean to you in the magic context and, in particular, the national magic festival Ánfora?

I have been visiting this city for many years and participating in the Ánfora, an event where you gain experience, you learn from other colleagues and for that reason, I feel that I owe part of what I am to it. My tie routine - which characterizes me internationally - was born in this city, watching an amateur magician perform the infinitely lengthening tie act. When I saw it I knew it was what I wanted to do, and then I spent a decade perfecting it, but today it is one of my greatest prides. I have been applauded considerably here. That's why I feel that Amphora must never die.
Gascó has been in the service of magic for more than four decades, a time in which he has not only given exquisite numbers such as the Tie Routine and the Pleated Paper but has also been concerned with the training of other talents and the socialization of knowledge in national and international tours, as a juror in magic events or as a member of the National Commission of Artistic Evaluation.

Our dialogue was brief in comparison with his work, backed by multiple awards and recognitions. But the words of the National Theatre Award 2022 Corina Mestre suffice to illustrate when she expressed (paraphrased) that in this integral artist, Marti's maxim of "the usefulness of virtue" is fulfilled.