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‘Blood Wedding’ a memorable occasion

| Sunday, April 13, 2014

blood_wedding_WEBMARIA MASSA | The Observer
On Wednesday through Sunday, the Notre Dame Film, Television and Theatre department presented “Blood Wedding.” Federico Garcia Lorca was inspired to write the play when he read a newspaper article about a bride who fled her wedding with her cousin. A few hours later, they were both found dead. Though the play did not follow actual events exactly, the runaway bride and cousin are central to the story.

The curtain opened on a sparsely decorated stage; the furniture was limited to a table and a few chairs. Strips of silvery paper that resembled tinfoil hung in the background, and the lighting crew changed the mood of the scenes by shining gold or tan lights on them.

From the first scene, the audience knew “Blood Wedding” was not going to be a typical play. With the stage barely lit, the cast members stood on the stage, each clapping to a different beat. Next, a video about fascism was projected onto the back curtain, and the ensemble turned around to watch it. Though it was not clear how the film connected to the play, the audience had a feeling that it would factor into the show later.

Next, professional flamenco dancer Nino de los Reyes came on stage and commanded the audience’s attention with his passionate and precise routine. Reyes is a flamenco master who has danced in Spain, Europe, Asia, Central and South America. Throughout the show, he continued to pop on stage and perform various numbers.

The audience understood his presence at the wedding scene, for plenty of weddings feature music and dance. During other parts of the show, though, the audience did not exactly understand why there was a random flamenco dancer holding a poem.

With a bit of research about the show, it becomes clear the dancer represents Lorca, the playwright. Without this prior knowledge, though, it was hard for the audience to appreciate the full meaning of the flamenco.

For the rest of the first act, the audience kept encountering new characters. They all had worked on their Spanish accents. Though some were more convincing than others, the majority mastered rolling their r’s.

Some actors neglected their accents every now and then, but Natalia Cuevas, who played Mother, and Kate Sanders, who played Neighbor, deserve recognition for maintaining their authentic accents throughout. As they gossiped, they handled their fans nimbly and naturally, as if they had been doing so for 40 years.

Other standouts in the first act included freshman Alexa Monn, who played the flirtatious, rambunctious maid perfectly. The bride, played by Catherine Baker, was also quite convincing. Her middle part and sulky countenance was reminiscent of a Spanish Jennifer Lawrence who simply cannot choose between Gale and Peeta, or in her case, the Groom and her married ex-lover Leonardo.

As the second act started, the play adopted a more dramatic, dreamy tone. Audience member freshman Caitlin Hogan remarked that the lines sounded more “poetic.” Now, the actors were not depicting the story literally, but surreally.

The woodcutters, played by sophomore Jacob Schrimpf and seniors David Díaz and Christopher Brandt, lunged onto stage in slow motion. They were hunting for the runaway bride and her lover, so instead of sprinting around the stage, they stepped and spoke ultra-slowly. They may have a future in ballet, for they exhibited superior leg strength when they extended and retracted their legs with control and technique.

When the woodcutters exited the stage, they re-entered in costumes that were interesting, to say the least. Schrimpf, who played Woodcutter No. 2, came out as the Moon, wrapped in a diaper-like creation. Though his torso and lower legs were mostly bare, his shoulders were covered with the top part of an army jacket and medals.

The Moon, who was “all-seeing,” was supposed to stand for fascism and its Big Brother-esque qualities. Schrimpf needed both confidence and creepiness for such a challenging role, and he excelled in both.

Next Díaz, who had portrayed Woodcutter No. 1, came out as the Beggar. He was even more frightening than Schrimpf. Robed in a black cape and clutching a gnarled stick, the Beggar groaned and squealed about death. When the Groom came through the woods, the Beggar seemed to orchestrate the scene where the Groom and Leonardo stabbed each other.

The rest of the play featured more mourning and, of course, more creepiness. Freshman Anna Schäffer, with her innocent blonde bob and charcoaled eyes, was cast perfectly as the haunting Young Girl. Sweet and satanic, she reminded audiences of Dakota Fanning from “Twilight.”

After so many deaths, the tears seemed to drag on a bit. However, the actors’ emotion was commendable. At the end of the show, the audience clapped genuinely; they were impressed with how well students had handled such a bizarre and challenging piece.

“Blood Wedding” was a marriage that pushed audiences and actors alike out of their comfort zone. It may not have been the wedding every little girl dreams of, but it was definitely a memorable occasion.

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About Erin Thomassen

I am a freshman double majoring in the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) and French. PLS (aka the Notre Dame Book Club) is the history of ideas through literature, philosophy, math and science. It was the perfect major for me, because I couldn't possibly choose one subject and hurt the other subjects' feelings. French was also a natural pick, since I have been prancing around my house under the pretense of performing ballet for eighteen years. If someone asks me what I do in my free time, I will tell them that I run and read. What I actually do is eat cartons of strawberries and knit lumpy scarves. If you give me fresh fruit, we will be friends. If we become friends, I will knit you a scarf for Christmas. It may be lumpy, but it will be in your favorite color. And if enough people become my friend, lumpy scarves might just become a trend.

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