Theater department presents “Blood Wedding

Kirsten Rusinak

It goes without saying that Lawrence is an unconventional place. Experimental literature and theatrical productions are just one way that the campus embodies the word “unconventional.”
The theater department continues in that tradition this weekend, performing Spanish playwright Federico Garcia Lorca’s “Blood Wedding.”
As Lawrence theater fellow and “Blood Wedding” director Annette Thornton said, this performance “may not be the ‘Blood Wedding’ you read in literature class,” with its “blend of poetry and realistic dialogue, surrealism and traditional narrative and imagery.”
The production is a translation by Caridad Svich, which Thornton said “blends Lorca’s poetic text with a deep theatrical sensibility.” The play, Thornton explained, “is seen through two filters: that of the translator and that of the director.”
Thornton described the rural Andalusian setting of the story as an “unforgiving land during a time of poverty and vigilante lawlessness.”
Scenes unfold during the common hours of post-work relaxation.
“After working in the fields all day, the young people of the village relax, play cards and sing music,” Thornton explained. “Into this scene arrive four widowed gypsy women who are traveling storytellers. One begins a story, which becomes ‘Blood Wedding,’ and one by one the young people are drawn in and become storytellers themselves.”
All but one of the characters are nameless, which Thornton explained signifies “their archetypal role in the unfolding tale.” Archetypes, she said, “run deep and are universal; they transcend language and time,” making archetypes the reason for telling a story of hope and despair from the retelling of death.
Leads Brune Macary and Alex Bunke, playing the bride and groom, are both archetypes.
Bunke described his character as “every groom in the world — expectant, devoted to his bride, patient, willing. Obviously, some grooms are not so clear-cut, but this production [and] text demand a certain clarity of choice. Plus, you’ve got to feel bad for this guy when the end of the play comes around.”
As a bride, Macary said, “She is facing a life choice between a peaceful and stable life with her husband or a passionate and consuming love for her first fianc***accent e*** Leonardo.”
“Blood Wedding” is part of the 2007-2008 season of the “Celebration of Great Spanish Playwrights.” The season’s interdisciplinary collaboration has extended to students both in and out of the play.
Thornton involved cast members by warning them, “I am steering the ship but not doing all of the work,” adding, “I conveyed that my role is to make sure that we are telling the right story.”
Bunke explained that among the actors, “We all have had say in the creative process — literally every person has had to make some of their own choices. These choices have had an impact on what we’ve created, and the audience can respect that.”
Collaborations involved Nikko Benson, who wrote a song for the play; Gwen Kelly-Masterton and Kristin Hammargren, who found music and used it for inspiration and Conner Lewis, who led the group in using music to establish environment.
Conservatory student Reed Flygt taught the cast flamenco rhythms for a large jam scene in the play. His teaching process drew on the music of Maria Schneider, in which, Flygt explained, “she has a few percussionists play with her normal drummer, and in order to recreate some stuff we copied what they did. Some rhythms were written out but it was easy to look at things on YouTube as well.”
Bunke emphasized the untraditional nature of the play. He explained, “[The play is] an interpretation and not a representation. It’s abstract, and the audience will be able to find their own meaning within what we show them.”
He continued by acknowledging, “It’s true that we’re incorporating dance, music and poetry, but it all makes sense within the world we’ve created. It is a world of artistry and storytelling, but it’s unbelievably fluid and dangerously passionate.”
Macary said, “[My favorite thing] is that the actors are not only actors, but also spectators. The theatricality is totally taken on, through a simple and symbolic set and mise-en-scenŠ.”
Admission is free for faculty and students, $10 for general admission, and $5 for non-Lawrence students and senior citizens. The play will be performed February 21-23 at 8 p.m. and February 24 at 3 p.m. in Cloak Theatre.