A plays Wedding of languages

Drama, love, loss, surrealism and even the supernatural all factor into “Blood Wedding/Bodas de Sangre,” a play by Spanish writer Federico Garca Lorca that will be performed in two languages this week.

“Blood Wedding” has performances in English on Thursday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m., and in Spanish – “Bodas de Sangre” – on Wednesday and Friday at 8 p.m.

The tragedy centers on mostly nameless characters such as the Bride and Bridegroom, as an impending wedding is complicated by the arrival of a past lover, Leonardo.

The director and faculty member Dora Arreola said she has long admired Lorca and had been interested in staging the play.

“I am from Mexico, so I grew up looking at classic writers from Spain,” Arreola said. “So Garca Lorca is one of my classics and one of my favorite writers, so I was waiting for the opportunity to direct this.”

Arreola said the language of the Spanish version is poetic and she wanted to keep the integrity of Lorca’s writing, so she decided to stage the play in both languages after realizing some students were bilingual.

“All the students are from the Department of Theatre,” she said. “The process of working with them and trying to find ways to understand the language of the play has been a great process.”

Arreola had Benigno Sanchez, a professor from the University of Amherst in Massachusetts, hold workshops with both the English and Spanish casts.

The English cast members learned basics of the Spanish language and the text’s meaning, while the Spanish cast members learned to express feelings and emotions in Spanish.

Students have been working on the play since January, attending workshops over the weekend and rehearsing during the week. One workshop involved flamenco dancing, which is an integral part of the production.

Lydia Ferry, a junior majoring in theater production, said many of the workshops focused on the production’s physicality.

“We’ve had a lot of workshops to get a lot of the physical, stylistic stuff,” she said. “We’ve had a workshop in a type of theater called Suzuki, which is very intense physically.”

Ferry plays the Mother of the Bridegroom in the English version. She’s juxtaposed against the Bride as a voice of reason.

Ferry said getting into character was a hard process because the Mother is much older than she is.

“She has been through the kind of loss most people can’t even imagine,” Ferry said. “It took a lot of imagination, and just from having loss in my own life with my own family, that’s the only way you can even begin to compare what she has lost in her husband and son being killed.”

The production deals with issues of gender and the individual versus society. Ferry said the Bride resists tradition and there are serious consequences to her actions, which end in tragedy.

“The Bride is a controversial character, and you kind of feel for her,” Ferry said. “But you also see that when we break the standards of society, it gets crazy.”

The production also incorporates supernatural characters such as the Moon and Death. Arreola said that a lot of the play’s surrealism comes directly from Salvador Dali’s influence on Lorca’s work and the surrealist art movement.

“It was very important for me to connect Garca Lorca’s grace with this artistic movement,” Arreola said. “I think we ended having a very surreal visual aspect of the play.”

A symposium that discusses Lorca’s life and his relationship with Dal and Spanish surrealists will be held from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. before Wednesday’s Spanish performance and Thursday’s English performance.

Ferry said her favorite parts of the production involve surreal characters like the stilt-walking Woodcutters, but the play still sheds light on real-life concerns.

“There is a lot of stuff that is unrealistic, (but) when it comes down to it, the plotline about love and following your heart and dealing with loss is something a lot of people can relate to,” Ferry said. “It’s just heightened and theatrical – it’s obviously not real life, but it just adds fun elements and brings some of the power of real-life situations.”

“Blood Wedding/ Bodas de Sangre” runs through Saturday in USF Theatre 2. Advance tickets are $8 for students and seniors and $12 for general admission. On the day of the show, tickets cost $10 for students and seniors and $15 for general admission.