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Federico García Lorca Comes to Ireland Reincarnated in “La Casa de Bernarda Alba” (2014)

On Friday, July 4th, I went to see a performance of La Casa de Bernarda Alba, a play by Federico García Lorca, at the Bank of Ireland Theatre, NUIG. The play was directed by Ian Patterson from the Hour Glass Theatre Company.


The play’s plot consist of a conflict between Bernarda Alba, the matriarch of a distinguish household in Andalucía, Spain and her five daughters, who are being deprived of the opportunity to get ahead in the world through marriage. This conflict is heightened by the sexual tension among three of the sisters: Angustias, Martirio, and Adela. The other two, Magdalena and Amelia are supporting roles in the play that carried the story forward. The sexual tension between the three sisters is caused by the existence of Pepe el Romano, who never appeared in the play. This male character is the fiancé of Angustias and the love interest of Martirio and Adela.


One of the central scenes is the one where Adela shows herself of to her sisters sporting a green dress. The color of the dress, in the context of the play, comes to symbolize the jealousy among the sisters, and represents the desired of Adela to rebel against the tradition of eight years of mourning in total black. The tensions that build up in the play culminate with the discovery that Adela has committed suicide. She hang herself in the belief that her mother has killed Pepe el Romano because of their affair. The play begins with the setting of a house in mourning and ends with the same situation.


On the whole, La Casa de Bernarda Alba was a fantastic production with an all-Spanish speaking cast playing to an international audience and directed by an Irishmen in Ireland. The play was complemented by an off stage trio called Cantos de Azahar, who sang the chorus of the play and a song unrelated to the staging, but its lyrics were composed in poetic form by Lorca himself. With all the ensemble in mind, I must say that because the play was performed in Ireland it cannot escape being connected to the idea of the conversation of the Irish identity. Coming back to the green dress scene, the color of the dress and the rebellion of Adela jointly represent the need of Ireland to assert its independence from England during and after the Irish Civil War (1922-1923). The Irish identity is symbolized by the color of the dress because green is one of the color on the Irish flag and is representative of being Irish. Also, deep in Ireland past, there once exited a matriarchal system in which women were in control of the major political and social areas of the Celtic Civilization, so in the play the matriarch Bernarda Alba is a symbol of the ancient Celtic matriarchy.


This great night at the theater was ended with my chance to be back stage with the director, musicians, and actresses of the play. Here are some pictures to commemorate my theatrical celebration of the 4th of July.


“Zorongo Gitano” by Federico Garcia Lorca sung by Carmen Linares

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