Campus News

‘Bernarda Alba’ issues plea for change

University Theatre will present The House of Bernarda Alba March 25-28 at 8 p.m. and March 29 at 2:30 p.m. in the Chapel.

Tickets, which are $10 or $7 for students with a valid ID, are available at the University Theatre box office in the Fine Arts Building or at the theatre door one hour prior to show time.

The play, written by Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca in 1936, opens soon after the death of Bernarda’s husband. Bernarda shuts herself and her grown daughters into the house for eight years of mourning and confinement, but the girls’ smoldering rebellion against this oppression soon breaks out, with disastrous-and even fatal-consequences.

“They’re women without men, that’s all. When it comes to that, even blood counts for nothing,” said Poncia, a servant in The House of Bernarda Alba.

Kristin Kundert-Gibbs, an assistant professor in the department of theatre and film studies, and director of the production, believes fervently in the ongoing relevance of Lorca’s powerful portrait of repression and its consequences.

“Sexual, religious, class and gender persecution force the characters in the play to hide from each other and even themselves, to a destructive end,” said Kundert-Gibbs. “These forces are still felt here in Georgia. It is important that we keep learning and discussing in order to transcend ignorance, hate and fear, else we may come to the same violent ending as those in the play.”

The all-female cast will include Shana Youngblood, a master of fine arts degree candidate in performance, who will portray Bernarda Alba for her thesis project.

Despite the heavy and all-too-relevant themes of the show, however, Kundert-Gibbs said the audience should not expect “all wailing and gnashing of teeth. Bernarda’s daughters have developed a sense of irony about their situation, and there are some funny moments.”

The play also includes all original music by local singer/songwriter Marisa Solky.

According to Lorca, the play is a “photographic documentary,” providing a glimpse into the lives of Spanish women in the early 20th century.

However, the circumstances under which he wrote it resonate through the text, layering it universal implications. The Spanish Civil War began in 1936, and Lorca himself was arrested and assassinated by fascists only a month after writing the play.

Rona Munro, a Scottish playwright commissioned by the Shared Experience Theatre to do a new translation of Bernarda Alba in 1999, sees the play as “a passionate appeal against repression” and “a testament of the power of fear to weaken people to the effects of tyranny.”

Polly Teale, artistic director of Shared Experience agreed.

“Those who have been oppressed often in turn become the worst oppressors,” she said. “They repeat the pattern of their own abuse, only feeling safe when they have power over others. The play is above all a passionate plea for change.”