Federico Garcia Lorca’s final play explored taboo themes

Idyllwild Arts Academy Theatre Department, in association with the World Languages Department, presents Spanish playwright Federico Garcia Lorca’s final play. In English, it is called “The House of Bernarda Alba,” and, inasmuch as the IAA production is bilingual, interspersing English and Spanish, it is advertised as “La Casa de Bernarda Alba.”

It is Lorca’s last play, completed just two months before his assassination at the age of 38. Bernarda Alba is considered a masterpiece of 20th century Spanish literature. It explores taboo themes of sexuality, repression, passion, conformity and reputation in rural Spain, and the effects of men upon the lives of women in an increasingly masculine and totalitarian political environment. The rise of Francisco Franco’s right-wing Falange in July 1936 came two months before Lorca was killed.

Idyllwild Arts Academy Theatre Department presents “La Casa de Bernarda Alba,” Federico Garcia Lorca’s 20th century masterpiece in a bilingual production. This cast photo depicts the severity, austerity and pain in Bernarda Alba’s house, as the mother matriarch harshly controls the lives and destinies of her six daughters. Photo courtesy Bonnie Carpenter

The play will be performed in English and Spanish, with a translation by IAA students. Involved in the cast are native and non-native Spanish speakers from seven different countries. In making the translation, students decided which passages and dialogue in the play should be in English and which in Spanish.

Directed by Theatre Arts Chair Bonnie Carpenter and co-directed by Dr. Mary Aebischer, chair of the Modern Languages Department, Bernarda Alba is the story of a household of seven women headed by a strict matriarch who enforces eight years of mourning after her husband’s death, repressing her six daughters’ freedom and desires while controlling their lives and futures.

“The daughters’ quests in the play echo the quest for all modern-day heroines — how not to over-valorize the masculine; how to honor one’s body and desires; and finally, how to be the author on one’s life,” wrote Aebischer.

Music, particularly with Flamenco sonorities and rhythms, will underscore the production. Music played a huge part in how Lorca penned his poems and plays. He studied piano and planned to be a classical composer before turning to writing.

At each of the three performances, IAA National Honor Society members will maintain concessions to raise money for earthquake victims near Mexico City and hurricane victims in Puerto Rico.

For an immersion into the austerity of rural Spanish life immediately before the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, plan to attend this free production at the IAF (Bowman) Theater on the IAA campus. “La Casa de Bernarda Alba” opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 13, plays at the same time on Saturday, Oct. 14 and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 15.