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Gerald Carpenter: Westmont Theater Stages ‘Blood Wedding’

The next two weekends, the Westmont College Festival Theatre will present a new production of Blood Wedding (1932), by the Spanish poet and playwright, Federico García Lorca (1898-1936). Blood Wedding plays at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24-25 and March 2-4, in Westmont’s Porter Theatre.

Professor Mitchell Thomas will direct, with 15 student actors, including Anna Telfer, Karly Kuntz and Troy Chimuma.

"Blood Wedding is Lorca’s surrealist exploration into forbidden passion, identity, and societal structures that both support and cage its people — themes that Lorca knew very well," said Thomas.

"I hope that audiences make connections to their individual and communal lives with these universal themes, and that audiences resonate with the dark creative currents that flow in his play — what Lorca describes as ‘poetry that rises from the page ... and becomes human.' "

Lorca was the rage in my youth. I don't know how many of us actually read him, but we all knew who he was. We had seen his name on the two New Directions paperbacks of his works; some of us owned one or both.

One of my friends, given to gnomic utterances, liked to quote this exchange from Blood Wedding:

Neighbor: How are you?

Mother: As you see.

The fact that Lorca was young and handsome, that he was murdered (presumably) by Franco's goons as the Spanish Civil War broke out, and that his body was never found, has imbued him with considerable romantic glory, even for those who have never read a word of his poetry or drama.

Once you have read him, or seen one of his plays, his life itself seems the starkest tragedy and his loss all but unbearable.

Blood Wedding is an altogether strange and wondrous play. The fact that Lorca was also great poet might lead you to brace for long monologues in blank verse.

Have no fear: Lorca, whose third skill was theatrical directing, is a consummate man of the theater. Even when nothing much seems to be happening, the emotional undercurrents compel the play forward with the momentum of a charging bull.

The characters are peasants, to be sure, but they are Spanish peasants, after all.

Nevertheless, except for their invincible dignity, they are no more able to escape their fatality than the rootless drifters and petty gold-diggers of James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice or Double Indemnity. The end leaves you aghast and somehow exalted at the same time.

Lorca's dialogue is compelling, unexpected, starting one place and arriving, suddenly, somewhere completely different than we thought it was heading. As in:

"My son is handsome," says the Mother of the Groom. "He has never known a woman. His honor is brighter than a white sheet in the sun."

"What can I say of my girl?" replies the Bride's father. "She is up at three with the morning star to make breakfast. Never speaks out; is as soft and gentle as wool; she embroiders all sorts of embroidery, and can cut a rope with her teeth."

General admission to Blood Wedding is $12; $7 for students, children and seniors. Tickets may be purchased at the door, or online at westmont.edu/boxoffice.

— Gerald Carpenter covers the arts as a Noozhawk contributing writer. He can be reached at [email protected]. The opinions expressed are his own.

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