A tale of Unrequited love

Perseverance Theatre presents Federico Garcia Lorca's 'Blood Wedding'

Posted: Thursday, September 08, 2005

In that final regard, he's not alone. Lorca's story - the tale of a young bride in a small Spanish town who flees an arranged marriage to be with her unrequited love - is full of poetry and passion. When the woman and her lover escape into a forest, it takes a dramatic turn for the surreal. A woodcutter represents the moon. A beggar woman symbolizes death.

Lorca's language and imagery were inspired by fate, his friendship with Salvador Dali and his own chaotic life as a homosexual in a highly structured society. Paul based his adaptation on several translations of the play in English and Spanish.

"The play gives you very little direction in terms of staging and design, and really all you get is a sense of its potential," Paul said. "There's so many different ways to do this play visually. I tried to keep the images and the richness of the language, but not make it too odd, and not have it feel dated. I wanted the language to convey the images without taking the audience out of it."

"Blood Wedding" opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 8. It plays at the same time Thursdays-Saturdays, Sept. 8-10 and 15-17 on the theater's second stage in its Phoenix Room, directly to the left of the front doors. Admission is pay as you can.

"This is a play I've always loved and always been intrigued by," Paul said. "It became especially interesting to me, moving to Juneau, because it's a small town. It tells a story of extraordinary events in a small town in a small community where everybody knows everyone and everything that's going on. It's about how a community deals with events that aren't part of the structure."

Lorca wrote the play based on a newspaper account of a similar story. He completed "Blood Wedding" in 1932, and it premiered in Madrid in 1933.

Born in 1898 in Gra-nada, Spain, Lorca is considered one of Spain's greatest poets and playwrights despite his untimely death. He was executed by nationalists on Aug. 19, 1936, during the start of the Spanish Civil War.

Lorca rose to fame with his poetry in the mid-1920s. As a dramatist, he's best known for his three folk tragedies: "Blood Wedding," "Yerma" and "The House of Bernarda Alba."

While writing "Blood Wedding," he was the director of a touring company subsidized by the Spanish government to perform the country's classic plays in small towns. It was one of his first experiences with theater, and the company traveled bare-bones in a truck, setting up stages in the center of tiny villages with the audience sitting on cushions.

"It was sort of a minimalist atmosphere, with people being very close to the performers, and that must have been part of his thinking process when he was writing 'Blood Wedding,'" Paul said. "It's a story with a lot of small scenes between two people, and there's a lot of interpersonal communication. I think it's a luxury that we can do it in such a small space. It's a much more intense experience and much more direct."

For the actors, Lorca's combination of poetry and prose proved difficult to translate to the stage.

"I feel much better walking out of rehearsal now, when I feel I've been something rather than just going through the motions," Liz Clement said last Thursday.

"I think it's easy to get lost in the poetry of it, and you have to work really hard to make images very clear," said Chelsea Rohweder, who plays the beggar woman. "I didn't really know what David was going to do with it. I wasn't sure that I loved the play when I read it. I thought it was strange. I didn't understand why certain characters showed up. But I guess I trusted that it was going to come clear. It really is very difficult as an actor to take on something that is so heavy."

"It hit me as a really strange play, but then it has these fairy-tale elements," said Levi Fiehler, who plays the bridegroom.

when: 7:30 p.m. thursdays-saturdays, sept. 8-10 and 15-17.

where: perseverance theatre second stage in the phoenix room, directly to the left of the front doors.

admission: pay as you can at the door.

For his directorial debut at Perseverance Theatre, artistic intern David Paul has chosen Federico Garcia Lorca's "Blood Wedding," a play he's read repeatedly, directed as part of class exercises and wondered how to fully adapt to a stage.

"It's kind of foreboding, but you never imagine that it's going to end up as bad as it does," said Fiehler, a University of Alaska Southeast sophomore who performed in the college's production of "The Landscape of the Body."

Janice Hurley, the artistic director at Juneau Dance Unlimited, has choreographed a series of flamenco-inspired dances for the play. The wedding, for instance, is represented by an extended dance rather than a wedding scene. The soundtrack, Spanish folk songs and classical pieces, is on compact disc.

"The dance represents a memory," Paul said, "but it also represents the struggle that both of the characters have in committing to the wedding and what they're struggling with."

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