Chibeau

Edmond Chibeau looks at performance and theatre from the avant-garde communication perspective

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Location: Mansfield, Connecticut, United States

Friday, October 10, 2014

Michael Bradford Writes Lorca




Olives and Blood
By Michael Bradford
Directed by Gary M. English
Lighting Michael Chybowski
Costume Design Thamiris Esteves
Sound Design Lexi Macchiaroli
Nafe Katter Theatre
Oct. 2 – 12 2014

When a poet writes about another poet it can be a dangerous thing.  We love our sisters and brothers and want to support them; sometimes that sweeps us up into an elegiac frenzy and interferes with the telling of the story.  On the other hand we sometimes over-correct and become so rigorous in our critique or analysis of another poet that find only fault where there is much good to be seen.
In writing about Federico Garcia Lorca, Michael Bradford manages to navigate the Scylla and Charybdis of uncritical applause on the one hand and ungenerous fault finding on the other.  His script for Olives and Blood reflects one poet/playwright’s appreciation for the soul and work of another.

In another context, referring to his poetry, I said that
Michael Bradford is a writer who has found and is comfortable with his own voice.  We see in this script that he is comfortable as a playwright as well as a poet. 

Along with Ruben Dario, Juan Ramón Jiménez and Pablo Neruda, Lorca brought modernism to Spanish language poetry and drama, but he didn’t lose the sense of tremendum.

Duende is a spirit who takes over the performer, a magic spell that sometimes happens when everything is just right.  The word is a foreshortening of the Spanish, “duende de la casa,” when flamenco dancers say the master of the house has entered and the music is taken over by spirit.  Lorca made much of it in his lectures in Buenos Aires in 1933.

The most compelling scene of the evening, the scene where everything comes together, starts with Lorca directing The Actress.  He wants her to create the moment of duende.  She cannot find the truth of the scene and overplays her part.  The Actor joins them and they rerun the scene from Lorca’s play Yerma.   As they continue The Actor breaks character and starts to argue about her bringing their off-stage relationship into her acting of Lorca’s play.  This time everything has meaning, Lorca is mesmerized by their performance, and duende becomes manifest.

The scene at the Nafe Kater theatre works like a charm.  Bradford has written an important and magical scene but it is a difficult scene to make happen.  Gary English does a great job directing, and the three actors are pitch perfect, but the secret ingredient is the lighting.  Michael Chybowski changes the mood as he imperceptibly softens the lighting while the actress is talking.  I am sure the majority of audience members didn’t notice the lights change but they felt the change in their body.  The lighting was not merely illumination but was integral to the meaning of the scene.
Somatic lighting creates duende in response to the requirements of the script.  Wow!
The playwright should be highly satisfied.
Michael Bradford got an intelligent and sensitive production of his play from the team at UConn’s Nafe Kater Theatre.

Outstanding in the cast are Anita Petry as Actress/Margarite, Martin Solá as Trescante, Nicholas Urda as Lorca, and Gabriel Aprea as Antonio.

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