Fidel Castro’s life and the revolutionary struggle he led is to be turned into a song and dance extravaganza which could be performed at next year’s Edinburgh Festival.
Fidel The Musical includes songs written by pupils at schools around Britain and is split into two shows, one covering the period between 1952 and the successful Cuban revolution in 1959 and a second show dealing with Castro’s time in power.
It is the brainchild of Dr Denise Baden, an associate professor at the University of Southampton Business School, who said she wanted to counteract the “bias” in coverage of Cuba shown from “the US point of view”.
She is hoping that schools taking part in the project, which is online at fidelthemusical.org, will perform the musical free of charge.
And she is to launch a crowdfunding campaign to take a condensed 90-minute version of the show to the Scottish capital during the festival next August.
The academic told the Press Association the current debate on Cuba “bears very little relation to how the Cubans view it”.
She said: “The picture that is painted is not accurate.
“I don’t have a view on whether free market capitalism or socialism is best going to meet the needs of the people but we are not going to find out when one side is not allowed to tell its story.
“It’s a distortion of the truth. That’s why I wanted to do the story of the Cuban revolution.”
Dr Baden added that she was not writing a “hagiography” as Castro was “not a saint”, but added: “It’s probably a more sympathetic portrayal than he would get from Hollywood.”
As an academic she had researched the leadership styles of Fidel and his brother Raul, the current Cuban leader, but said “it’s hard to publish anything about Cuba which isn’t biased against them”.
She said that Castro was worshipped as a “father figure” by many older Cubans, although the younger generation are more “conflicted” over whether he or US sanctions are responsible for shortages in the Caribbean country.
Asked whether her decision to get schools involved in the show had attracted criticism, she said: “I kept waiting for someone to say ‘what’s all this?’ but they all said ‘what a great idea, we do Cuba on the syllabus’.
“They are interested in a different perspective.”