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Putting an American perspective on Federico Garcia Lorca's play Blood Wedding

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03/25/2009

For press photos go to http://www.newpaltz.edu/news/images/bloodwedding.html

Director Anita Gonzalez is available for interviews. Call 845-257-3872.

New Paltz, NY – Federico Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding, a play of tragic proportion – passion, denial and gruesome revenge – will be performed April 16 – 26 in McKenna Theatre at the State University of New York at New Paltz. The play is directed by Anita Gonzalez.

Blood Wedding tells the story of a couple drawn irresistibly together in the face of an arranged marriage. Based upon a true event, it is a tale of a bride who flees on her wedding day to be with her lover. The crux of Blood Wedding hinges on disparities between personal desire and responsibility. Passions are uncontrollable, but breaking the rules has dire consequences for the couple. The tragic aspects of the play unfold on many heart wrenching levels; young lovers who torture themselves by denying their desire, the sick reality of choosing to spend life with some one you don’t love, and the desperate pattern of gruesome revenge between families. Written in 1932, this play is as timeless as the theme it shares.

The SUNY New Paltz production is presented through the lens of African-American poet Langston Hughes’s lyrical translation, capturing the sometimes-violent imagery of death and lust in strikingly beautiful language. Through his concise interpretations of poetry, Hughes captures the sense of desire and betrayal that permeates the emotive life of almost all of the characters in the play. Director Gonzalez, commenting on the production says, “When I was approached about directing Blood Wedding, the language captivated me, but the content was frightening.  I remember mentioning to the composer, Stephen Kitzakos that this play would force us to explore our dark side.  It has. Yet in the connection to the world of the living, I set the play away from Spain, within a surreal American landscape because I wanted the actors to explore stylization and symbolism. Hughes originally translated the play because he saw some connection between America and Andalusia in the play’s content and language.”

Collectively, faculty and student artists have collaborated to design music, the set, costumes, lights, and props into a central vision about the nightmarish world of Lorca.  Shapes and dress styles from the 1930s America are integrated with the colors and textures of surrealistic paintings.  Uniquely, the production uses original music composed by Stephen Kitsakos to create an aural landscape that reexamines the dreams and desires of the character relationships.

Related Event

Pre-performance Panel Discussion

Sunday, April 19 at 1:00 p.m.

Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art West Wing

Free

A quartet of distinguished members of the SUNY New Paltz community will discuss Blood Wedding.  Panelists include Sarah Wyman, assistant professor of English and a specialist on Langston Hughes, whose scholarship treats the semiotic study of 20th century borderline texts – those which function at the limit of verbal/visual expression. Lee Connell, an English major who will graduate in May, will talk about gender roles in the play; Michelle Wood, an assistant professor of English is the author of Translating Milan Kundera and other articles on translation in literature and film; and Patricia Fitzpatrick, an assistant professor of foreign languages whose primary area of research is 20th – 21st century Peninsular literature, in particular, Garcia Lorca’s poetry and drama.  She has published several articles and is working on a book manuscript exploring the unique presence of mysticism in Lorca’s work, a theme closely related with the primitive nature of Blood Wedding.

About the playwright

Federico Garcia Lorca was born near Granada in 1898. Initially set on studying music in Paris, after his piano teacher died in 1916, he became involved in a literary and artistic group, including H. G. Wells and Rudyard Kipling. This move towards a more literary life eventually paid off. "Blood Wedding (Bodas de Sangre)" was written in 1932, and was first performed in Madrid in March 1933. It proved to be the popular and critical success he'd been waiting for. Lorca’s success was short lived. Under Franco’s regime, the political situation in Spain was altered.  Federico Garcia Lorca was executed on August 18th 1936 for his political activities and his homosexuality.

About Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes, one of the most important writers and thinkers of the Harlem Renaissance, published more than three dozen books during his life, starting out with poetry and then expanding into novels, short stories, and plays.  Hughes's work often spoke plainly about the lives of ordinary black people, which in later years earned him a reputation as one of the major black voices of the 1900. His literary works helped shape American literature and politics, as through his works he promoted equality, condemned racism and injustice, and celebrated African American culture, humor, and spirituality.

About the director

Anita Gonzalez (Ph. D University of Wisconsin) is a director, writer and educator.  She has developed new work for West End Theatre, Dance Theatre Workshop, Lincoln Center Out-of-Doors, and Ballet Hispanico.  Her work has appeared on PBS national television and other national and international venues. The National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Mid Atlantic Arts Association, and the FIDEOCOMISO for United States/Mexico Arts exchange have all funded her work. Ms. Gonzalez is the author of the book Jarocho’s Soul: Cultural Identity and Afro-Mexican Dance, and the forthcoming Afro-Mexico: Dancing Between Myth and Reality. Ms. Gonzalez has been an artist in residence at Rockefeller’s Bellagio Center and has won multiple awards for theatre production and research including three Fulbright Senior Scholar Awards. She is an associate member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers and an associate professor in Theatre Arts at SUNY New Paltz.

About the composer

Stephen Kitsakos received his training in theatre and musical composition from New York University and the BMI Music Theatre Workshop Program.  He has been a recipient of composing commissions from The Episcopal Diocese of NY, The Catskill Watershed Alliance, The BMI Foundation, The Fourth Wall Music Theatre Company and, as a librettist, from the Beverly & Raymond Sackler Foundation. For the Theatre Arts Department, he has composed scores for productions of Our Town, the Caucasian Chalk Circle, The Hairy Ape, A Streetcar Named Desire, King Lear, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry IV, and Tartuffe.  Kitsakos teaches courses in theatre studies and musical theatre performance at SUNY New Paltz, where he has been on the faculty since 2000.

Performance Dates:

April 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25 at 8:00 p.m.

April 19 & 26 at 2:00 p.m.

Tickets for Blood Wedding are $16 general reserved, $14 reserved seniors/faculty/students and are available at the Box Office located in Parker Theatre beginning April 6.  Call 845-257-3880.  Tickets may also be purchased on line by going to www.newpaltz.edu/theatre

For additional information call 845-257-3872.

The State University of New York at New Paltz is a highly selective college of about 7,800 undergraduate and graduate students located in the Mid-Hudson Valley between New York City and Albany. New Paltz was named "Hottest Small State School" in the 2008 Kaplan/Newsweek How To Get Into College Guide, which identifies America's 25 Hottest Schools. The guide features schools that all offer top academic programs,

and are making their mark in the competitive world of higher education.

The college was also recently ranked 7th among the best public universities and 38th among public and private universities in the North that offer bachelor's and master's degree programs, according to the U.S. News & World Report's rankings for America's Best Colleges 2008.

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Degrees are offered in the liberal arts and sciences, which serve as a core for professional programs in the fine and performing arts, education, healthcare, business and engineering.