From the Director of Bernarda Alba

There are so many reasons I wanted to direct The House of Bernarda Alba.

First, it’s a classic play that still resonates today with modern relevance.

Second, Lorca scares me. His work is so fiercely passionate, it’s physically and emotionally exhausting for the actor and by proxy, the director. Taking actors to the depth of that emotion is a challenge as well as a responsibility. I cannot ask my actors to “go anywhere” I’m not willing and able to go with them.

Third, on a more personal level, I met Roy when I first came to Seattle as he was my stage manager for the second show I directed here. He always had the love, talent, and passion for the theatre, but he had yet to commit his devotion. Arouet is a company that evolved through his evolution. I beam with pride at his accomplishments and am honored he entrusts me for this important project.

Why You Should Support The House Of Bernarda Alba

Hey! It’s John. I don’t normally post on the Arouet website, and this is the first time I’ve posted here without letting Roy know about it first. Sorry, Roy. It’s a sneak attack of loving support from someone with admin rights!

To anybody that knows Roy, it is no surprise that he is dedicated to theatre. His commitment to bringing The House Of Bernarda Alba to Seattle is unparalleled. Right now, right this second, Roy is working like crazy on Kickstarter to raise funds for The House Of Bernarda Alba.

The problem I have with this process is that to you, this just like another polished pitch. Even Roy’s closest friends and supporters don’t get to see the “behind the scenes” passion that Roy carries with him day and night.

It wasn’t until we were finishing up the second video where I clearly saw his determination to get things as close to perfect as possible. Even though I am a complete hack at making little iMovies, Roy’s eye for detail is sharp and he will only accept the best. Until he is 100% satisfied, he isn’t done.

And I started thinking, isn’t that exactly why you should help fund this show?

Go to Arouet’s Kickstarter page and contribute! The House Of Bernarda Alba will be in the best of hands.

[box]J.S. Epperson is the sound designer for The Gene Pool and Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune. He has previously created sound and voice over work for Arouet, Arts West, Redwood Theatre and Theatre 9/12. You can read a clever paragraph or two about Epperson over on his website. Read some fabulously nerdy blog posts at Arouet.[/box]

Why Bernarda Alba? Why now?

Once La Segua was put on hold, there was no doubt in my mind that the next play on the list would be The House of Bernarda Alba. Ever since the ninth grade, when we were required to stage it for Spanish class – yes, I was IN it, don’t ask! – the play has remained close to my heart.

The very first production I saw was at a small theatre next to the bus stop in San José, Costa Rica, in a space quite similar to The Ballard Underground in Seattle. One of the first plays I saw live, it was haunting and exciting and brilliant, and solidified my love affair with the performing arts. I have now seen the play twice, twice as a dance performance, and once on film. I feel the time is right for me to produce it, and even though I am not directing, I am thrilled to be the assistant to director Charles Waxberg, my friend and mentor.

The story is about the stern, tyrannical, mother who calls for an eight-year mourning period for the death of her second husband, cutting off her five single daughters from the rest of the world, depriving them of human contact. Even under her watchful eye and dictatorial power over the home, the daughters rebel. In as much as Bernarda Alba is a play about repressed sexuality, it is a play about oppression and censorship. García Lorca wrote it during the Franco years and was killed for his political views shortly after the play was finished. They tried to silence him, yet his work continues to be presented around the world. We see this today in the Middle East, where after years of oppression, people are fighting for freedom. As a gay man, I see it in the U.S. as we fight for equal rights. The themes of the play remain relevant, and will as long as people’s basic freedoms continue to be threatened.

The House of Bernarda Alba has not been seen on the Seattle stage for a long time – I can’t tell you since when because all my searches have come up empty handed thus far. I would like to change that.

To Kickstarter!

2011 was a banner year. I launched Arouet, and with the support of friends produced two plays that I longed to direct. I got to work with fantastic people, received good notices, and am as inspired as ever to move forward with the company, this time producing the Spanish masterpiece The House of Bernarda Alba by Federico García Lorca.

Unfortunately, the cash that remained after The Gene Pool does not cover the expenses to produce another play, and I had to figure out a way to raise the remaining balance. With the broader appeal of the show and following in the footsteps of other recent productions, I thought it would be great to invite you to be a backer, with contributions starting at $1 anyone can be a producer! I heard about Kickstarter from other companies that had just run successful campaigns, and after doing some research, it truly is the most appealing way to raise funds. People can contribute any amount, it makes it very easy to communicate with the backers, and the finances are quite easy to manage on our end. Plus we tie some fun rewards to your contributions.

Creating the campaign was interesting and fun. It’s a completely different fundraising model, very different from anything I had done before. The one thing they strongly recommend is creating a video, which was by far the most challenging part of the process, and by far the most fun. I am very self-conscious and not particularly clever, so I recruited my partner (in life and in crime) to help me come up with something fun. After spending an entire evening working on the first version, I was suddenly inspired and went on a totally different direction. There are still a couple of things I would like to fix, but overall I am quite happy with it. Make sure to check it out.

How it works: we set a funding goal of $3,250 and a deadline of December 23, 2011. You can pledge any amount, staring with $1. There are rewards attached to the incremental value of your pledge, from a thank you email to having your name above the title as a producer. If we meet or surpass the goal by the deadline, you get charged, we get the money, and we move forward with the production. If we don’t meet the goal, you don’t get charged. It’s an all or nothing deal.

So click on over to Kickstarter, take a look, and become a backer. Bernarda Alba and her daughters have been absent from the Seattle stage for too long.