The Saint Sebastian Players (SSP) open the company’s 37th season with an alternative and eccentric approach of the intense drama written by Federico Garcia Lorca: The House of Bernarda Alba.
Action starts from different angles of the theatre, at the same time loud music plays in the background. Three dialogues occur on the stage and there is a certain sense of chaos that shrouds the theatre. While pungent punk music keeps roaring, the actresses gather on the stage and start a flamenco inspired choreography, linking this way the original setup of the play to a modern, contemporary feeling.
The House of Bernarda Alba is a show about oppression, about the compulsive need of a mother to protect her daughters, in spite of the consequences triggered by this despotic behavior. Bernarda is obsessed with family honor and after her husband’s death, she decides to lock herself and her five daughters in a traditional eight-year period of mourning.
To be born a woman is our worse punishment
The House of Bernarda Alba is a play that reflects conflicts between tradition and freedom. It is also about the dynamics that occur between strong women in a suffocating environment, under extraordinary circumstances and social pressure.
Cloistered from the world, the daughters soon start to feel the weight of the severity that marks their destinies. They all long for love and freedom, but it is the youngest of all the one who gets herself in trouble. She is the most vulnerable and starts to compete with her eldest sister for her suitor’s attention and love.
Veiled conflicts in The House of Bernarda Alba
But this is not the only conflict in this family. Envy and money are related themes that become obvious when Joan Nahid (Angustias) inherits the fortune of her late father, Bernarda’s first husband. When on top of that or even worse, because of that, she becomes desirable for the most handsome man in the village, hatred starts to make its way into the sister’s hearts.
Bernarda is so concerned with keeping her house together that she refuses to acknowledge what is happening under her roof and is infuriated when her maid and long-time friend Poncia tries to open her eyes. In this viewer´s opinion, the performance of Melissa Reeves (Poncia) is exceptional. Due to her witty and funny interpretation, she manages to embody her character in a very fresh manner.
Saint Sebastian Players Gives Modern Interpretation of Classic
From this writer’s point of view, it is possible that this modern interpretation of a classic play might not appeal to all, but could be interesting to an audience who values the culture of Riot Girrrl, punk music and an alternative approach of Lorca´s work. For those, like this writer, who have a deep appreciation for the classic as originally written, this very modern twist is not especially an improvement.
All photos by Eryn Walanka
Now to November 12, 2017
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Sundays at 2 p.m.
* There will be post-show discussions with members of the cast and production team following the Sunday matinees October 29 and November 5
St. Bonaventure, 1625 W. Diversey
(enter on Marshfield)
Full-priced tickets: $20
Tickets for seniors, students with valid IDs at the door and children younger than 12: $12.
Group rates also are available.
About the Author
Laura Buciuman is currently a Marketing Assistant at the Tourist Office of Spain in Chicago. Open-minded and curious, with a major in journalism and philosophy (North University, Romania) and two Master Degrees, one in English and Spanish for specific and business purposes (Alicante University, Spain) and another in International Tourism (EOI Business School, Spain), Laura is passionate about writing, storytelling, traveling, arts and culture. She has already lived in four different countries and visited many others and enjoys discovering different cultures. Reading, gastronomy, latin dances and yoga are some of her hobbies.
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