By Carl Roa
Assistant Director, Blood Wedding
Pictured above: Carl in action at Drexel University. Photo credit Kate Raines and PLATE 3 Photography.
In August, I attended the first production meeting for Blood Wedding, where Damon sat down with me afterwards to discuss my responsibilities as an assistant director. Most of it was pretty standard: watch rehearsals, take notes, etc – but Damon was trying to make sure I wasn’t twiddling my thumbs at any point during the process.
“So, do you have any ideas for what you could be doing?” he asked.
“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe I could do some dramaturgy. I could create a research packet for the actors to read.”
“That sounds fantastic!”
That afternoon we went our separate ways, and I remember asking myself during my walk home: Why the hell would I volunteer to do that? Apparently, all it took was an internship at the Wilma Theater, and suddenly I was a qualified dramaturg.
But then I made shocking discovery: dramaturgy is actually…enjoyable. (Gasp!) I spent the month before rehearsals immersing myself in Lorcaland: I learned about the texture of the world which Lorca created for his characters and the rhythm of nature and colors he layered into his dramas. I learned more importantly about Lorca himself, and the eerie parallels between his life and mine (minus the assassination…hopefully!)
My experience with this production of Blood Wedding has proven to be eye-opening, as another discovery that was made: dramaturgy is just as gratifying as any other area of interest for me – acting, directing, writing or otherwise. People ask me questions. Designers ask for advice. The director listens to my notes. And I’ll be damned if I don’t feel important because of it.
Regardless of whatever egocentric rush of power I’m experiencing, I’ve definitely developed a deeper understanding of the dramaturg’s role in the theater. It’s a strange middle ground of researcher and artist, but also critic. Before my work with the Wilma, the idea that the dramaturg is as much an artist as the director or actors always seemed strange. But now that concept makes total sense, even if I have a lot of downtime where I’m not needed.
Would I pursue dramaturgy? Maybe. I feel as though my enjoyment was dependent on the source material – Lorca’s body of work is rife with fascinating symbology and history, and much of what he has created is based on actual tales from his past. I definitely lucked out by having my first dramaturgical experience be through a playwright whose work I respect.
What I love about Lorca is just how refreshingly punchy and atmospheric his style of writing can be. Contrary to popular belief, Lorca’s plays do have a sense of humor on occasion, and there were no shortage of potential laugh lines in Blood Wedding. I think the key to deciphering any playwright’s body of work is to let go of any preconceptions and realize that any writer worth their salt will have created a layered, nuanced piece. The possibility of humor in Lorca’s dramas is a reflection of this idea.
And quite frankly, Lorca’s style is so…un-American (I mean, duh). Some things are not clearly defined to the audience, which defies the logic of American storytelling in general. We like it when we understand what’s going on, and reject anything that’s the least bit ambiguous or open to interpretation. If all the ducks aren’t in a row, then we become disinterested. And that’s why I love Lorca – because he never had to worry about an American sensibility of playwriting. The Moon shows up after the wedding because who gives a damn? It’s spectacular and artsy and metaphorical except when it’s not - but it totally is, because Lorca wouldn’t have put the moon in so much of his work otherwise. It’s not about the meaning of symbols, but rather, the frequency in which they appear. Lorca’s background as a musician becomes apparent when one considers how often red objects are referenced in the script, and the context in which they appear. The use of red, silver, green, black, and white objects are as much musical notes in sheet music as figures on a canvas. In adding these elements to his plays, Lorca has succeeded in creating his own universe – where countryside violence and pastoral landscapes are one and the same.
So, uh, yeah. Lorca’s pretty awesome. And you should come see our show because Damon’s an awesome director. And Judith’s portrayal of the Mother is pretty awesome. And I’m proud to say that I’m a Drexel student, because our ensemble has done an awesome job of not behaving like set pieces. They’re creepy as hell.
Everything’s pretty awesome. Go see it. You won’t regret it.
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