‘Blood Wedding’ at Westmont

Garcia Lorca’s Modern Tragedy

Brad Elliott

It’s been almost a century since the great Spanish poet and playwright Federico García Lorca encountered his destiny in Madrid, where the then-19-year-old son of a great Andalusian landowner met the pair who would become his main amigos at the University of Madrid: Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí. Under their influence, he wrote and produced his first play, a tragic love story about the impossible desire of a butterfly for a cucaracha.

García Lorca’s youthful infatuation with surrealism was relatively brief, yet the movement’s premise, that art should reflect the subconscious mind, remained an essential aspect of his aesthetic until his untimely death in 1936, when it appears that he was assassinated by Spanish nationalists.

On February 24, the Westmont College Festival Theatre will open a two-weekend run of one of García Lorca’s three most important works, Blood Wedding. I say one of three because the play is part of a famous trilogy along with The House of Bernarda Alba and Yerma. Taken together, García Lorca’s three tragedies are among the only 20th-century works that can stand up in direct comparison with the tragic trilogies of Ancient Greece.

Westmont’s Mitchell Thomas is directing a cast that includes the splendid Anna Telfer as Bride, Karly Kuntz as Mother, and Troy Chimuma as Leonardo. It’s a great choice for this moment in history. García Lorca lost his life to a dictatorship that could not tolerate this outspoken gay artist and his socialism, and thus had him murdered. His art reflects the turmoil of his times with grace and urgency, offering a humane vision of what it means to be trapped in a society that cannot, or will not, meet your most basic needs. In a bold reimagining of the work for this new century, Thomas has set it in rural America, rather than in southern Spain, and collaborated with his actors and his creative team on a version in which the movement “lives on a subconscious level,” according to the director. Eric Ederer has supplied the score, and students onstage will play the banjo, fiddle, and guitar.

4·1·1 Blood Wedding is at Westmont’s Porter Theatre (955 La Paz Rd.) Friday-Saturday, February 24-25, and Thursday-Saturday, March 2-4, at 7:30 p.m. For tickets and information, go to westmont.edu/boxoffice.

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