La casa de Bernarda Alba
By Federico García Lorca Performed by Repertorio Español
Welcome to Keynotes, a performance guide created by the Education Department of the State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ. These Keynotes are designed to be used before and after attending Repertorio Español’s performance of La casa de Bernarda Alba.
CONTENTS Introduction to the Play Federico García Lorca Lorca’s Spain Themes in the Play 2 3 4 5 The Language of the Play The Production Meet the Director Audience/Resources 6 7 8 9
they must remain inside the darkened house doing needlework. SPINSTER . Later. though she knows Bernarda’s shot has missed. n’t un orme lish class o f in n Eng you d e per to do n to a h. however. the “sickly one” ADELA . unmarried marry a beautiful man from the sea. La Poncia. The culprit is finally identified: the gloomy and sickly Martirio. believing Pepe is dead. Bernarda announces to her five daughters that their family will observe a period of mourning lasting eight years.Bernarda’s daughter. Y rio E udien perto and the a by Re derst of d . as the women sit at their sewing.Bernarda’s friend NIÑA . we Lorca lay an s and heatr T ion ep tate quest ith th s the S iliar w o find ls l in it am ou’ll a spaño ome f bec ce. but Bernarda insists there are no men worthy of them. she says. she is 14 years older than her fiancé.Bernarda’s daughter. If will b lay liste panis The p u can ge. Bernarda screams.a young girl
.Bernarda’s eldest daughter. says it is time for the girls to have husbands.Bernarda’s maid and confidante ANGUSTIAS .Bernarda’s servant PRUDENCIA . Bernarda’s greatest concern is for her family’s honor—the public must never know that Adela gave up her virginity without being married. (Despite the engagement.Bernarda’s youngest daughter. a commotion erupts outside the house. To her weeping daughters. the senile old grandmother. having an affair with Pepe el Romano MARIA JOSEFA . The maidservant.Bernarda’s mother CRIADA .Bernarda’s daughter. age 27 MARTIRIO . Bernarda’s youngest daughter. Angustias will inherit her father’s money and land. age 24. she cries out. Pepe is engaged to Angustias. age 39. Angustias bursts in to accuse one of her sisters of stealing her picture of Pepe. At 39.Introduction to the Play
a Garcí erico d to of Fe visit your ance to ore form a. age 30 AMELIA . ow yo angua al l he sh eadse origin cial h ring t u a spe ish. Martirio announces that Pepe has been killed. woman One day. To Adela’s horror. Adela runs out and kills herself. the most handsome man in the village.the matriarch of the household LA PONCIA . but Pepe is not marrying her for love. Furious. Bernarda learns the truth about Adela and Pepe.an who says she wants to get away from all these spinsters and older. “Kill her!” Eventually. Bernarda’s eldest daughter. an unmarried girl who has just killed her newborn baby is being dragged through the town by a mob. she grabs a gun and rushes out to shoot the young man. d ough Span n thr latio w! trans e sho oy th Enj
La Poncia and Bernarda
The play takes place in a small village in southern Spain following the funeral of Bernarda Alba’s second husband.) We also meet María Josefa. as the eldest. age 20. S t. engaged to marry Pepe el Romano MAGDALENA . During this time. She sternly declares to her daughters that she will rule in her own house as long as she lives. Bef notes e per a Alb to th e Key hes ber nard ome use t Welc e Ber a mem you’ll asa d le as c r ro hope ities ’s La activ d you e. “Silence!”
BERNARDA ALBA . Adela. Each of Bernarda’s daughters harbors a secret passion for Pepe el Romano. Her lie hits its mark. has secretly become Pepe’s lover.
in English New York. Lorca himself was arrested and then put to death. JESUIT . playing the piano. Lorca’s greatest success was as a poet. was writt olive trees. they often his outlook. and in 1927 his play. and reading great literature from Spain. broke out in Spain between the Spanish Republic and nationalist rebels (Fascists) led by General Francisco Franco. He published Libro de Federico García Lorca poemas (Book of Poems) in 1921. he traveled abroad. or in Spanish. Lorca completed La casa de Bernarda Alba in the last year of his life stage a Bernarda Alba poetry reading. Mariana Pineda. painting. but never had a chance to see it performed. was not published or roduced in was not p It . See if the audience can figure out In July 1936. his celebrated Canciones (Songs) in 1927. produced. Lorca suffered increasingly from depression. he may blished o suppress as not pu fter it da Alba w have been considered a threat by the Fascists. In an effort to erase the author’s existence. where he met influential Spanish artists including the painter Salvador Dalí and film director Luis Buñuel. and Primer romancero gitano (Gypsy Ballads) in 1928. He later enrolled in the University group of Granada. the ‘rural trilogy’ of Bodas de sangre (Blood Once your poem is completed. get Wedding). On t he Fascis August 16. What subject would government-sponsored student theater company that toured Spain. until 1964
La casa de la poesía
. During the 1920s. and Spanish and Greek drama. a city he found “Babylonic. In 1919. The 1945. make use of poetic language. Spain. civil war speaking in each poem. he about? What would she have to say? wrote his best-known plays. opened to much acclaim in Madrid. Shakespeare. To this Because t hard to orked so day. He spent a good deal of time in New York. Though at the height of his fame.a Roman Lorca moved with his family to the city and attended Catholic religious a Jesuit school. much of gentina in hed in Ar s Spain and publi his work was banned and.” His trip resulted in a book of poetry entitled The Poet in Try creating your own poem. which was made worse by having to conceal his homosexuality Lorca is equally celebrated as a from friends and family. Lorca was buried in an unmarked grave in a grove of finally pr perfor play was en. Lorca ignored his which character from the play is friends’ warnings and left Madrid for Granada. Lorca persisted. until recently. which closed after just four performances. was arrested and then executed by Franco’s forces. the reason for his execution still remains a mystery. Latin America. the mayor of Granada. At this time. and La casa de Bernarda Alba (The House of Bernarda together with your classmates to Alba). in the voice of one of the characters from La casa de Lorca returned to Spain in 1930 and was appointed director of a Bernarda Alba. While his plays are not literally poems.Federico García Lorca
Federico García Lorca was born in Fuente Vaqueros. Lorca’s brother-in-law. He staged his first major play. and violent” but also “filled with a great modern beauty. When he was 11. La ca Lorca’s w r celebrity whose family sided with the republican cause. and France. Hoping a change of surroundings would improve playwright and a poet. at a time of tremendous political unrest. as a public in Spain w sa de regime ork. Yerma. Lorca moved to Madrid. Two days later. where he concentrated on writing poetry. with stage settings by Dalí. After his Bernar decade a almost a oduced med until execution. cruel. a small farming town outside of Granada. Despite this failure. your character be most likely to write introducing rural audiences to classic Spanish theater.
Granada. Vicente Aleixandre. The warm climate of the valleys and plains is ideal for growing oranges. Manuel Altolaguirre. The Fascists appealed to people’s sense of national identity. and cooler in the highlands. wheat. 1936 until March 28. All of the surviving Generation of ‘27 members kept writing and publishing late into the 20th century. Rafael Alberti. which is located in a region in southern Spain known as Andalucia. Córdoba. Conditions for women were extremely oppressive. since the distant past. The Fascists emerged victorious. remained Spain’s head of state until his death in 1975. Lorca recognized the struggles of the main his countrywomen and for this reason used them character in a play as the protagonists in many of his plays. Members of the group included García Lorca. Though the Civil War did not end the movement. the dictator General Francisco Franco. where snow is not unusual.
Generation of ‘27
Federico García Lorca was a member of the Generation of ‘27. Andalucia has a varied climate: subtropical on the Mediterranean coast. The clash of political beliefs erupted into the Spanish Civil War. and without their consent they could be “given away” in arranged marriages. styles. Jorge Guillén. and their leader. a number of social issues strongly affected the lives of the common people in 1930s Spain. The Generation of ‘27 writers embraced a wide variety of genres. and Pedro Salinas. Málaga. conservative. corn. and viewpoints. In addition to the political chaos.
The Political and Social Climate
During Lorca’s adulthood. Luis Cernuda. On the other side were the rebel Fascists (also known as Nationalists). Lorca was murdered and other members were forced into exile. and other grains. rallying followers in mass parades and encouraging suspicion and hatred of foreigners. Huelva. Spaniards loyal to the elected democratic government. Research some of the writers who were part of the Generation of ‘27. it has been settled or conquered by many different civilizations from
Córdoba Huelva Sevilla Granada Almería Málaga Cádiz The Andalucian region of Spain Jaén
Africa and the Middle East to northern Europe. It lasted from July 17.Lorca’s Spain
Andalucia: Land of Lorca
Lorca grew up in Granada. The history of Andalucia is an eventful one. and Roman Catholic. 1939. and Sevilla. Spain was locked in a chaotic power struggle. Their base of support was primarily rural. Each of these groups has left a lasting impression on the culture of the region. cuttingedge
. Jaén. On one side were the Loyalists (also known as Republicans). This largely conservative group favored the centralization of power in a single authority. The Loyalist side was generally liberal to moderate. their SECULAR . an influential group of poets that arose in Spain between 1923 and 1927.not power base was urban and secular and was connected to particularly strong in industrial regions like religion Asturias and Catalonia. The capital is the city of Seville. temperate on the Atlantic coast. Dámaso Alonso. Single women were not allowed outside without chaperones. How does their work differ from Lorca’s? What common traits brought them together? What social issues had the biggest impact on their writing?
AVANT-GARDE radically new or different. olives. the bloodiest conflict in the first half of the 20th century. Female agricultural workers working the same hours as men were paid half as much in wages and still had to go home at the end of the workday to PROTAGONIST cook and clean. Emilio Prados. This group formed out of a shared desire to experience and work with avant-garde forms of art and poetry. sugarcane. Gerardo Diego. Cádiz. This region includes the provinces of Almería. wealthy.
Which characters in the play are guided by reason. when Bernarda imposes an eight-year mourning period on her household. but never actually seen. Whiplash and mules for men. In denying them an outlet for their sexual needs and desires. The characters constantly make reference to their place as women in a society that has very strict social codes governing the behavior of both sexes. La casa de Bernarda Alba features women as the central characters.
Prudencia visits Bernarda Alba and her daughters. she brings about the tragedy that ends the play. The play opens on the day of her husband’s funeral. what can you infer about the characters’ attitudes about gender? What do you think it would be like to be to be a young woman living in Bernarda and Poncia’s household? BERNARDA: PONCIA: “Needle and thread for women. men are mentioned. notice the ways that death affects the women in the play. Do they all have the same reaction? What lines in particular give you insight into their responses to death?
Adela and Martirio
Reason and Passion
Some of the characters in this play respond to situations with reason (common sense). (During the play. prohibiting all but one of her daughters from having any contact with men. such as the home and kitchen. All the daughters except Angustias face eight years of being trapped inside their house with nobody to talk to except for each other and little contact with the outside world.) Which characters have the most influence—the sensible ones or the emotional ones? Do you think it’s wise to make choices in life based solely on reason or passion? Why or why not? What are some of the consequences of doing so? Martirio
.” “They’re women without men. why do you think he would choose to focus on the theme of death? Does the situation in which Bernarda’s daughters find themselves reflect anything in his own experience? As you watch the performance. while others are guided by passion (emotions). and which by passion? (Cite specific words or actions to support your opinions.
Based on the following lines from the play.) The story is set in spaces traditionally associated with women. Bernarda takes these rules to an extreme.
Given what you know about Lorca. that’s all.Themes in the Play
Like Lorca’s other major plays.”
Death hovers over the characters in La casa de Bernarda Alba throughout the entire story. and in such matters even blood is forgotten.
Try varying the volume. Los veía en el corral uncir los bueyes y levanter los costales de trigo entro voces y zapatazos y siempre tuve miedo de crecer por temor de encontrarme de pronto abrazada por ellos. I used to see them in the corral. What happens if you emphasize certain words? Also experiment with gestures. Desde niña les tuve miedo. and where you put the pauses. Then he married someone with more money than me. fr the p es branch of ca Lor ility ib a ns r cí se Ga ico the -Feder change
Using either the Spanish or English text above. Martirio ¡Invenciones de la gente! Una vez estuve en camisa detrás de la ventana hasta que fue de día. and I was always afraid of growing up. Martirio The things people make up! Once I stood at the window in my nightgown until daylight because his field hand’s daughter told me he was going to come by. for fear of suddenly finding myself in their clutches. Did they perform them they way you expected? What is the difference between reading Lorca’s lines and seeing them acted out?
Martirio It’s better to never lay eyes on a man. and pitch (high or low) of your voice.The Language of the Play
Lorca’s work has been described as poetry brought to life on the stage. What do you notice about the language? Are there any qualities that make it sound similar to poetry? Does the rhythm of the text change when translated into English?
Martirio Es preferible no ver a un hombre nunca. I’ve been afraid of them. tre “A thea dy to vaude ge tra ” om eople. Amelia Don’t say that! Enrique Humanas was after you and he used to like you. porque me avisó con la hija de su gañán que iba — venir y no vino. with loud voices and clumsy feet.
Amelia ¡Y fea como un demonio!
in ted en ell-ori y nsitiv e and w se few is in a at th can ville. Amelia And as ugly as the devil!
Amelia ¡Eso no digas! Enrique Humanas estuvo detrás de ti y le gustabas. body language. and facial expression... . Fue cosa de lenguas. harnessing the oxen and loading the sacks of wheat. God made me weak and ugly and set them apart from me forever.
Read the excerpt below from La Casa de Bernarda Alba. work with a partner to explore the range of expression you can achieve by speaking the lines aloud in different ways. It was all just talk. Dios me ha hecho débil y fea y los ha apartado definitivamente de mí. At the performance. listen for these lines and notice how the actors interpret them. Since I was a child. Luego se casó con otra que tenía más que yo. and he didn’t. Lorca’s plays use language that is both rhythmic and layered with meaning. speed. Much like his poetry.
atmosphere. color. Props are minimal. The stage is practically bare and ABSTRACT . “We simplify and abstract the play in order to emphasize symbols and to focus the attention exclusively on what is said or done by the actor. Pictures of nymphs or legendary kings in improbable landscapes. how does the time period dictate your choices? Create a director’s notebook with sketches of your sets and costumes and notes on sound and lighting for your production. pay attention to how the actors and the script create a sense of the surroundings without using lots of set pieces.
During the show. Wicker chairs. In this production. which resembles a set of ladders.
During the show. Here’s his description of the setting for Act I: A very white room in Bernarda’s house. and include rags for the maids and sheets for the daughters to stitch and fold. however. keep an eye out for these elements of the production design:
The backdrop. is created with metal bars hung from chains in different directions across the back of the stage. or is it okay for them to change things to express their own ideas about the play? What choices would you make if you were staging a production of La casa de Bernarda Alba? What would your sets. Arched doorways with jute curtains trimmed with silk tassels and ruffles. and placement of the lighting are carefully coordinated with the actors and scenes. and helps the audience focus on a particular image. Did the lighting help draw your attention to any particular characters or locations? Pay particular attention to the way the lighting design helps make a distinction between the indoor and outdoor scenes. and to indicate the age and social position of the characters. and time. such as small black boxes that the actors use at the beginning of Act III to suggest sitting around a dinner table. Actors enter and exit through these “ladders” and as they do. and lighting look like? Think about setting the play during Lorca’s time versus setting it today. the metal bars hit together to create an array of sounds.” While you’re watching the performance. There are just a few set pieces. When staging this piece. The timing. look for interesting patterns created by the lighting design. too.
What does the costume design say about the social position of the characters?
Lighting helps convey mood. He environment says. the design team created costumes that are very plain and not specific to a particular time and place. director look at something René Buch wanted a design that would not lock without reference the story into a specific time and place nor to a specific overshadow the performers and the words.to the colors dark.
The Costumes and Props
Costumes and props are often used to help establish time period and location.The Production
Repertorio Español’s production design for La casa de Bernarda Alba is very simple. What do you think is the significance of the sounds created by the metal bars hitting together?
What Would You Do?
Lorca never had the chance to see La casa de Bernarda Alba performed. but he left detailed directions in the script for how the sets should look. Why would the director and designers choose a design for their production that is completely different from what the author indicated? Do you think artists should stick to what the author wrote. The sisters wear black leotards with long black skirts.
. costumes. It is summer.
when the daughters are sewing. Q: Is this Bernarda Alba another “black” production. is the fiercely dominating mother still the tragic heroine? La Poncia and the sisters at their sewing
Q: What about the progress of your imagery in producing Bernarda Alba? A: The first time we did Bernarda. Q: In this production. and they don’t change. but René Buch makes a they’re not eating. role-play a debate between Adela and Bernarda about whose way is right. The scene is a labyrinth of things hanging—all black. has had a lot of experience directing the plays of Lorca. and by following instructions she’s destroyed her family. Don Perlimplín. another stark and spare production that highlights the poetry? A: It sure is.
Adela suffers because her mother does not allow her to express her natural sexuality.. Later. Lorca said once that a play was like a poem standing up. They’re all victims of the society. But Bernarda is the tragic figure because she has done everything. and El público (The Audience). where Adela accepts her fate. People would come through the doors as if they were rats coming from holes. more than anything. He has directed multiple productions of Bodas de sangre. too.. It’s like walls made of hanging things-ladders. Working with a classmate. Doña Rosita la soltera (Doña Rosita the Old Maid).
. and everything that she’s done is wrong. They’re always the same. Everything is imbued with sexuality and death. fundamentalist society? Why?
A: I haven’t changed my point of view. with holes for doors. Yerma.. There’s no sitting down except in the third act. or other anywhere. I think she’s destroyed by the death of Adela. they’re sitting connection between on black cubes. The characters are mythical. he reflects on his most recent production of Bernarda Alba.. she’s aware of her tragedy and her destruction. La casa de Bernarda Alba. She’s like a communist who believes in the communist party.— and it covers the whole stage. Q: Have your ideas about Lorca’s characters changed much over the years? A: I think that I have refined them. She wants her sexual life fulfilled. But for the second one we just used a wall of black mesh that made a corner. At the end. The [religious right] in be set in an orthodox this country has given me a hint Jewish. we had enormously thick styrofoam walls and a roof of styrofoam. it’s less Spanish. The people who don’t give in to sexuality. so that people can respond to what he said. when they are supposed to be eating.. Do and themes seem more you think La casa de universal? Bernarda Alba could A: Yes.Meet the Director
René Buch. the material the girls sew covers the whole stage. and religious Q: Do you mean the characters fundamentalism. etc. It’s far more the theme of this play abstract. and the tragedy in this case is that she does it. It’s the point in Bernarda Alba. In this interview. the Artistic Director of Repertorio Español since its inception.. Muslim. that this could take place evangelical. When she comes to cry “Silencio” at the end of the play. I don’t like Bernarda to be a monster all the time.
Q: How would you describe the changes in your approach to Lorca’s plays over four decades of directing them? A: What I’ve been trying to do is to refine my approach. But Bernarda believes she is doing what is best for her family by putting respectability (virginity) above individual needs and desires. What we’re trying to do in all our productions is to put the poetry on its feet. Q: Your theme of the repressed instinctual life and its revenge—does that recur in Lorca’s other tragedies? A: Yes. I see her as a victim.
Do You Know Your Part?
As a member of the audience. by Federico García Lorca. Johnson & Johnson. the McCrane Foundation. follow an usher to your seat. Available on amazon. Plaza & Janes Editores. by Anthony Beevor. 2004 Federico García Lorca: A Life. talking.
BOOKS: The House of Bernarda Alba. James and Diane Burke. 1990 Fire. University of Durham.A. or moving around disturbs the performers and other members of the audience. S. And of course.htm Biography of Lorca’s life with a list of his works www. 1998 (in Spanish) The Spanish Civil War. Continental Airlines is the official airline of the State Theatre.org Overview of Lorca with pictures and a poetry sample www.cyberspain. Seward Johnson Foundation. Funding has been made possible in part by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/ Department of State.org VIDEO: La casa de Bernarda Alba (1987).wikipedia. At the theater. Wesley Brustad. So watch and listen carefully to the performance. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. the J. by Ian Gibson. You will not be allowed to use them. focus all your attention on the stage.com/passion/lorca.org/wiki/Federico_Garc%C3%ADa_Lorca State Theatre www. New Brunswick. a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.StateTheatreNJ. President Lian Farrer. the John F..repertorio. • If something in the play is funny. tape recorders. please applaud at the end of the performance if you liked what you saw! • After the performers are finished taking their bows. Methuen Student Edition. go ahead and laugh. 1999 El Asesinato De Garcia Lorca.
Repertorio Español www. the Karma Foundation. Vice President for Education Keynotes written and designed by Lisa Beth Vettoso Edited by Lian Farrer © 2006 State Theatre
The State Theatre’s education program is funded in part by Bristol-Myers Squibb. directed by Mario Camus. or any other recording equipment to the performance. • Once the house lights (the lights in the part of the theater where the audience is sitting) go down. by Sebastian Doggart & Michael Thompson (eds. Faber & Faber. Brother International Corporation. make sure you know your role! • When you enter the theater.). Blood and the Alphabet: One Hundred Years of Lorca. the E & G Foundation. And please no food or beverages! • Don’t bring cameras.com
. the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation. the National Starch and Chemical Foundation. stay in your seat until your group gets the signal to leave the theater. eating. the PNC Foundation. Their support is gratefully acknowledged. by Ian Gibson. you are a crucial part of the performance. Before you arrive at the theater. the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. and the Wachovia Foundation. camcorders. • Attending a live theater performance is not the same as watching television at home. 2001 WEBSITES:
Keynotes are produced by the Education Department of the State Theatre. NJ. Penguin.