“Las Meninas” premieres

Joy Manweiler

The Theatre Arts Department presents Antonio Buero Vallejo’s “Las Meninas; A Fantasia in Two Parts” this weekend. The play is Vallejo’s reaction to the famous Diego Velazquez painting of the same name. It is directed by Kathy Privatt and features an all-star cast of faces both familiar and new to the Lawrence stage.Lawrence alumni Emily Rohm-Gilmore and Aaron Sherkow, who both worked with Privatt on her production of “Smash” last winter term, are back at LU for this production, as costume designer and lighting designer, respectively.

Julia Robinson, who is completing her senior project with this production, is the set designer. The play will be presented in Stansbury Theatre.

“Las Meninas” was written in 1960, and confronts the issue of censorship in art through the life of Diego Velázquez and his struggles with authorities on the matter.

In the 17th century, Velázquez was the Spanish court painter, but he, along with all artists in Spain at the time, could not paint anything without permission.

He was put to trial for painting a nude portrait of Venus. Vallejo uses Velázquez’s situation to question when one should stand up for what is right and when one should back down to maintain a position in society, and in that way also maintain influence.

This translation, by Marion Peter Holt, has only been performed twice in the U.S.; the Lawrence production marks the third.

Privatt has been lucky enough to be in contact with Holt throughout her work with the script, and shared some of his insight into the “Fantasia” part of the title, which has two meanings.

One meaning is “fantasy”; the work is not nor is it meant to be an accurate history of events in Velazquez’s life. The second is fantasia as a musical piece, as a theme and variations.
Privatt and the rest of the cast and crew have been working with these two definitions, especially the latter one, to create what will be performed this weekend.

“Las Meninas” is the first of three plays from Spanish playwrights that the Lawrence Theatre Department will be performing this year in their series titled “A Celebration of Great Spanish Playwrights.”

The series came about as a result of a discussion between the three directors of the plays, who wanted to engage another department with the theater this year.

Timothy X. Troy, who will direct the spring term play “The Knight from Olmedo,” spoke with the Spanish Department, which was more than willing to collaborate.

Annette Thornton is the third director involved; she will be working with Federico Garcia Lorca’s “Blood Wedding” during winter term of this year.

Performances will be Thursday, Nov. 15 through Saturday, Nov. 17 at 8 p.m., with a matinee on Sunday, Nov. 18 at 3 p.m. Tickets are free for Lawrence students, and may be obtained at the Box Office located next to Stansbury Theatre.