from the Footlights

 

APRIL 2008                                                          “Life shouldn’t be all work and no plays.”

 

 

APRIL 7: DISCUSSION OF LORCA’S BLOOD WEDDING

 

“Remember I’m an Andalusian,” Federico Garcia Lorca said of his ties to pagan and gypsy folklore and his 1933 theatrical hit, BLOOD WEDDING (Bodas de Sangre), touring in Argentina and Uruguay. This first of Lorca’s trilogy of great tragedies premiered in Madrid, Spain and overnight turned him into a literary star, as besieged as a present-day rock singer. One of his actress friends had to rent him a hideaway in Montevideo so he could escape the journalists to write. Although Lorca basked in the celebrity, he longed for his roots—the solitude of southern Spain, the source for his artistic vision of the close relationship between death, life and art.

As a child, the poet-playwright watched a plow turn up pagan and Roman tiles in the lush river soil in his home town near Granada. This was an area where Greek-Iberian, Roman, and Arab influences formed the foundation for the al-Andalus kingdom, or Andalusia, that tolerated a flourishing of Jewish, Christian and Muslim cultures. Awareness of this background helps explain the mysterious Moon who speaks in BLOOD WEDDING. The talking Moon is still troubling for critics, but, according to Lorca’s biographer Ian Gibson, originates from the pre-Roman Andalusian, and Celtiberian moon myths that honor the moon with bonfires, dances and hymns.

Just what is the blood in BLOOD WEDDING? Is it a prophesy of the Spanish Civil War to come? Or is the blood about spiritual union? Why does the bride abandon her bridegroom for a lover, already married and with a child? What is Lorca telling us? I’m sure we can find many touchstones to discuss in this play, that prompted a theater critic from Heraldo de Madrid in the 1930s to exalt BLOOD WEDDING as a “great work” for everyone “for (both) intellectuals and the ordinary theater-going public.”

In 1934, two years before his assassination, Lorca took a stand for art as opposed to the commercial, made-for-money theater: “(Theater)…is a great art, an art born with man, one that he carries in the noblest part of his soul. When man wants to express what is most profound about his history and his being, he does so through performance, through the repetition of physical attitudes.”

 

Art is one with nature and real life for Lorca. Confrontation with the duende, a restless demon or burning-within an artist, made manifest in the flamenco or in bullfighting, can best be described as the confrontation with mortality. Everywhere death is possible and the real world is a drama or game. The point of departure for BLOOD WEDDING was based on a real-life incident of a runaway bride. But is this a realistic human situation based on jealousy and revenge or a poetic allegory about love? (Francisco Garcia Lorca, who wrote the prologue to the edition we are reading, says his brother Federico is “the poet who most signally opened the theatre’s doors to poets.”)

Our guest artists and speakers to discuss the GALA Theatre’s production will be internationally known producing/artistic director Hugo Medrano and producer Abel Lopez, well-known leader for the arts in Washington D.C., who is also president of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture board of directors and a string of other impressive boards for the performing arts. Medrano, who feels “a special affinity to Lorca,” is using a flamenco choreographer, based on Lorca’s fusion of dance, ritualistic chant and music. Rosalind Lacy MacLennan will moderate.

 

The Footlights dinner discussion is scheduled for Monday, April 7, at Alfio’s, in the Willoughby Apartments, 4515 Willard Ave., Chevy Chase, MD 20815. Please arrive by 6:15 p.m. Contact Mark Gruenberg to reserve for dinner, 202-898-4825 or press_associates@yahoo.com. If you find you must cancel your dinner reservation, please let Mark know by noon on Monday, April 7. You may come just for the discussion, if you wish. We would appreciate a $5 contribution to Footlights to help cover our expenses. Your voluntary contribution to Footlights is tax deductible.

 

READING & SEEING BLOOD WEDDING

 

Copies of BLOOD WEDDING in the Three Tragedies anthology, translated by James Graham-Lujan and Richard L. O’Connell, (New Directions) can be ordered via Barnes & Noble. You can also check with your library.

 

We will see Lorca’s BLOOD WEDDING at the GALA Theatre at Tivoli Square, 3333 14th Street, NW, DC. on Sunday, April 13, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20 and include a post-show discussion. Send your check, payable to Footlights, to Robin Larkin, 5800 Nicholson Lane, #L07, Rockville, MD 20852. The performance will be in Spanish with English surtitles. For information and to let her know your check is on the way - robinlarkin@comcast.net or 240-669-6300.

 

MAY 7: THE VISIT BY DURRENMATT

 

On Wednesday, May 7 at 6:30 p.m., Footlights will meet at Alfio’s with the Ushers theatre group to discuss THE VISIT, a tragi-comedy by the Swiss writer, Friedrich Durrenmatt. Michael Baron, Associate Director of Signature Theatre, will lead our discussion. Baron has directed over 40 productions at theatres across the country and has taught theatre and arts education at Brown University, Holy Cross

College, Rhode Island College, and Unidade Universitaria in Brazil.

 

During the years of the cold war, arguably only Beckett, Camus, Sartre, and Brecht rivaled Durrenmatt as a presence in European letters. In THE VISIT, an old lady who becomes the wealthiest person in the world returns to the village that cast her out as a young

woman. She offers riches to the town in exchange for the life of the man, now the mayor, who once disgraced her.

 

READING & SEEING THE VISIT

 

You may order your copy of THE VISIT from Backstage Books (202-544-5744) or any other bookstore. THE SIGNATURE THEATRE

PRODUCTION OF "THE VISIT" IS A MUSICAL VERSION OF THE PLAY FOOTLIGHTS WILL READ AND DISCUSS ON MAY 7. This drama of revenge and guilt has been set to music by John Kander and the late Fred Ebb with the book by Terrence McNally. We will join the Ushers theatre group at Signature Theatre on Sunday, May 18 at 2 p.m. to see Signature’s production starring Chita Rivera and George Hearn. Tickets for this performance are now sold out.

 

Calendar

April 7 (Monday) - - Please arrive by 6:15 p.m. for dinner discussion of Blood Wedding, by Federico Garcia Lorca at Alfio’s, in the Willoughby Apartments, 4515 Willard Ave., Chevy Chase, MD 20815.

 

April 13 (Sunday) at 3 p.m. Performance of Blood Wedding at GALA Theatre, Tivoli Square, 3333 14th Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20010. Tickets are $20; includes post show discussion. Make your check payable to Footlights, and send to Robin Larkin, 5800 Nicholson Lane, #L07, Rockville, MD 20852.

 

May 7 (Wednesday) -- Please arrive by 6:15 p.m. for dinner discussion of Friedrich Durrenmatt’s The Visit at Alfio’s, in the Willoughby Apartments, 4515 Willard Ave., Chevy Chase, MD 20815.

 

May 18 (Sunday) at 2 p.m. - Performance of The Visit at Signature Theatre. Sold out.

 

Dinner-discussion reservations: Reserve with Mark Gruenberg, 202-898-4825 or press_associates@yahoo.com.

 

Theater tickets: Robin Larkin, 240-669-6300 or robinlarkin@comcast.net. Make check payable to Footlights. Send to Robin Larkin at: 5800 Nicholson Lane, Apt. L07, Rockville, MD 20852.