in plain view producer-writer-director

   

Orestes escaped from Cuba on an airplane to Mexico before immigrating legally to the United States and becoming an American Citizen without a single penny in his pocket, literally, and knowing no one in Mexico.

After living in Mexico illegally for exactly ninety days, Orestes arrived in the United States, October 30, 1964, literally without a cent in his pocket and without speaking the English language. He settled in Titusville, Florida and worked nine hours a day, six days a week washing dishes at a restaurant called the “Ranch House” at a weekly pay of thirty dollars.

Soon after, Orestes became a short order cook and worked on Cocoa Beach before moving to Miami. In Miami he worked as a cook, a clothing salesman and a car salesman. The first month as a car salesman he lived sparsely, eating only one apple and half a slice of white toast every three days until he finally sold his first car one month later. That special day he had a feast.

Orestes Matacena
 
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A dreamer at heart with an entrepreneurial mindset, Orestes decided it was time to start up a playhouse. His first theater was in the living room of his Miami apartment that he shared with his girlfriend Phyllis Baldwin, a North Carolina bombshell. Then, he rented an office space and founded “Theater 66” with Cuban actor/director, Miguel Ponce. They produced ten plays together at that theater.

Two years later, 1968, Orestes moved to New York. With only a few dollars in his pocket and knowing no one, he had no other choice but to sleep at the Port Authority bus station for a few days. By the fourth month of his arrival, he raised $25,000 and was producing and acting in his first Off-Broadway play called “The Grab Bag.”
 


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In 1969, Orestes and Miguel founded "The New York Theater of the Americas," where they produced more than thirty original plays. Orestes acted in many of the productions, playing a variety of roles ranging from a scruffy dog to an Italian Count, and directed his first play. Miguel’s role was primarily as a director.

Not only did Orestes work in his own playhouse, but he was hired as an actor in many prestigious New York theater companies such as "Cafe La Mamma," "Stage 73," "Dume," "The Henry Street Playhouse," “INTAR” and "The Astor Place Theater."

   
Years later, in 1975, Orestes founded “The New York Cuban Cultural Center” along with Ruben Rabasa, Ivan Acosta and Clara Hernandez, where they produced twelve plays, recitals, poetry nights, art exhibitions and political debates about the Cuban Communist tyrannical situation oppressing the people living in that beautiful island. Thanks to Ivan, the Center is still part of the New York scene.
   
 
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