Repression, love, rebellion smolder in 'The House of Bernarda Alba' | UToledo News

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Repression, love, rebellion smolder in ‘The House of Bernarda Alba’

Starr Chellsea Cutino plays Adela, who is dying in this scene from “The House of Bernarda Alba” as her mother, grandmother and sisters watch. From left, the cast includes Ashley Stephens as Angustias, Jillian Albert as Martirio, JoEllen Jacobs as Bernarda Alba, Lynnette Bates as Maria Josefa, Megan Aherne as Amelia and Aleta Scott as Magdalena.

Starr Chellsea Cutino plays Adela, who is dying in this scene from “The House of Bernarda Alba” as her mother, grandmother and sisters watch. From left, the cast includes Ashley Stephens as Angustias, Jillian Albert as Martirio, JoEllen Jacobs as Bernarda Alba, Lynnette Bates as Maria Josefa, Megan Aherne as Amelia and Aleta Scott as Magdalena.

The University of Toledo Department of Theatre and Film’s 2010/2011 season, “Imprisonment,” will close with Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca’s tragedy “The House of Bernarda Alba.”

The play will open Friday, April 8, and run through Sunday, April 10, and from Wednesday, April 13, through Sunday, April 17, in the Center for Performing Arts Center Theatre. Performance times will be at 7:30 p.m. except Sunday, when the curtain will go up at 2 p.m.

The title character, the tyrannical Bernarda Alba, holds her five daughters virtually captive to defend the family honor. But does her iron rule stem from a maternal moral obligation or is it a distortion of reality, emanating from her own jealousy, desire for vengeance, and fear of what others may think? Lorca makes the argument that repression of nature inevitably leads to tragedy.

Encoded within Lorca’s play, which he considered pure realism, is a metaphor for the dictatorship that swept his home country of Spain in the 1930s immediately prior to World War II. In fact, two months after he wrote it, he was assassinated by supporters of the very fascist ideals the play decries. Lorca was shot and killed before he had the chance to see his play performed.

Theatre Lecturer Irene Alby, who will direct the UT production, said the oppression of women and repression of nature still exist today. Giving an example of modern day China and India, in which the one-child policy and high abortion rate have led to the birth of 100 girls for every 120 boys and in some places up to ratios of 100 to 200, she said, “The areas with the highest disparity among boys and girls are also the most violent, with crime rates, sexual violence, female suicide rates and bride trafficking rising higher and higher. Likewise, five sisters stuck at home with no rights, no jobs and no husbands or children could wind up at each other’s throats in the fight over a man.”

She also noted the interesting reference to Middle Eastern culture as the girls are told to wear their headscarves.

“Women in the Middle East are among the most repressed today. In post-revolution Egypt this very day, women protesters who are trying to achieve equal rights are being spat upon and put down,” Alby said. “Spain was, of course, influenced by Middle Eastern culture, so it isn’t a huge stretch to use those references. There were many parallels, such as the stoning of women who were accused of adultery. We wanted to make the play relevant to the times, and that seemed like a good approach.“

“The House of Bernarda Alba” is a nearly all-female cast, Alba added and said the play provides the student actresses a tremendous opportunity to play powerful and challenging feminine roles.

The production will feature UT students JoEllen Jacobs as Bernarda Alba, Lynnette Bates as Maria Josefa, Ashley Stephens as Angustias, Aleta Scott as Magdalena, Megan Aherne as Amelia, Jillian Albert as Martirio, Starr Chellsea Cutino as Adela, and Tyria Allen as Poncia. Also appearing will be UT students Liz Thomas, Gina Gass, Lynnette Bates, Michael Cochran, Liz Thomas, Phillipe Taylor and Michael Cochran.

Tickets are $13 for general admission; $11 for faculty, staff, alumni and seniors; and $9 for students. They can be purchased online at utoledo.edu/boxoffice, by calling 419.530.2375, or by visiting the Center for Performing Arts Box Office.

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