Preview: Blood Wedding (Bodas De Sangre)

BLOOD WEDDING (BODAS DE SANGRE) by Federico Garcia Lorca, translated by Langston Hughes, directed by Soheil Parsa, with Beatriz Pizano,.


BLOOD WEDDING (BODAS DE SANGRE) by Federico Garcia Lorca, translated by Langston Hughes, directed by Soheil Parsa, with Beatriz Pizano, Derek Kwan, Bahareh Yaraghi, Carlos Gonzalez-Vio and Sochi Fried. Presented by Aluna Theatre and Modern Times at Buddies in Bad Times (12 Alexander). Previews Thursday (March 12), opens Friday (March 13) and runs to March 29, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinees Wednesday and Sunday 2 pm. Pwyc-$25. 416-975-8555, buddiesinbadtimes.com.

Marriage, passion and death are knotted inextricably in Blood Wedding (Bodas De Sangre), Federico Garcia Lorca’s classic Spanish play that has the feel of Greek tragedy.

In a small village, two families have been feuding for generations. Now the boy from one clan is engaged to marry into the other, but trouble swells when the bride-to-be runs away with her former suitor.

Two fine indie companies, Aluna and Modern Times, collaborate on this production of Langston Hughes’s translation of the script, directed by Soheil Parsa, who’s given heightened theatricality to such well-known texts as Macbeth, Waiting For Godot and The Lesson.

“The play has the quality of a raw nerve, and Soheil has staged it with extreme simplicity,” says actor Sochi Fried. “Scenographer Trevor Schwellnus uses a minimalist concept to create a series of windows that suggest a rural community where people know everyone else’s business.

“We actors have to rely on our bodies and voices in space, since there’s nowhere onstage to hide. Similarly, the characters have no place to put deep desires that fall outside the community’s conventions and status quo.”

Another challenge for Fried and the other performers is Lorca’s language, which she characterizes as operating with a poetic rather than a rational logic.

“It’s metaphoric and imagistic, and all but one of the characters are archetypal figures who are called boy, girl, wife, father and so on. The exception is the married Leonardo, whose flight with the bride leads to tragedy.”

Fried plays two roles in the show, first as Leonardo’s wife and later as the moon.

“In some way the wife represents the social conventions against which Leonardo struggles. She’s rule-bound, aware of how marriage works in this society. Sometimes it’s hard to shift my very 21st-century sensibility as a woman to a character who must uphold her role. She loves Leonardo, but she also fights as hard as she can to hold onto him, knowing that he is literally the person who keeps the family from poverty.”

If the wife’s language is simple and grounded in a world we know, the moon speaks symbolically.

“She’s a hungry, cold, bloodthirsty character, part of the play’s third act, which many people call surreal,” offers Fried, whose previous shows include Antigonick and Stencilboy And Other Portraits.

“But the moon fits right into Lorca’s poetic logic. She’s part of the natural world that steps fate-like into the human realm, upsetting the plans of Leonardo and the girl.

“My way into her character is to see her needing something outside of herself in order to be whole, just as the real moon needs the light of the sun. Her insatiable thirst is only momentarily satisfied. She understands the sensual connection between blood and death – death that’s not the natural follow-up to growing old, but rather murderous and untimely.”

As in most Modern Times productions, movement is key in defining the play’s atmosphere.

“For Soheil, every physical action onstage must come from an organic place and an understanding that stillness is more powerful than stilted mannerisms.

“There have to be reasons for our movements. For instance, to create the wedding dance, he suggested we play with the violent motions of a punch first to the stomach, then the face and the back. Working with those ideas, we’ve developed a fluid pattern that each actor has individualized into a kind of folkloric dance.

“Blood Wedding is the kind of play that requires a style of acting and an approach to text miles away from kitchen-sink drama.”

jonkap@nowtoronto.com

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