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.