Lorca adaptation “Verde, agua y luna” entrances with images

May 09, 2018 Comments Off on Lorca adaptation “Verde, agua y luna” entrances with images by

By Stefanie Borkum

In a small theatre at the back of the Calder Bookshop, the simple black stage becomes alternatively the claustrophobic cell of the poet and dramatist, Federico García Lorca, and a backdrop for the characters and imagery that populate his work. The play Verde, agua y luna, devised by the two actors Maria Estévez-Serrano and Luis Gayol, focuses on what they imagine went through Lorca’s mind in his last hours, as he was locked up in a cell before his execution in August 1936, at the start of the Spanish Civil War. Like the proverbial drowning man who sees images of his former life flash by, Lorca’s characters from his work are conjured up before him. These short dramatised extracts of Lorca’s work are the reason why this Spanish-language play communicates so well to an English-speaking audience. Lorca’s poetry loses its musicality in translation, no matter how well it is translated, and so English ‘sub-titles’ are projected onto a screen, giving the gist without losing the music of the Spanish poetry, which is beautifully spoken and brought to life by the two actors as they embody the various characters.

A unifying thread runs through the play as it does in the drama and poetry of Lorca – the imagery of green, water and  moon. These images do not have one fixed meaning and they work in a way that contradicts the cruel taunt of Lorca’s friend Salvador Dalí, who criticised the poet’s acclaimed Romancero Gitano (The Gypsy Ballards) for being ridden with Spanish tradition, clichés and stereotypes. Verde, Agua y Luna draws on Lorca’s later work, after that turning point, his stay in New York in 1929. But all the seeds of his imagery were already present in his early poetry. As Lorca said, his childhood in rural Granada provided him with a ‘storehouse’ that was his ‘poetic memory’. While his imagery has its origins in Spanish tradition in which Lorca was seeped – ‘I express Spain in my work and feel her in the very marrow of my bones’ – that does not make him parochial. As the cultural critic Raymond Williams said: ‘Lorca’s importance is that, drawing strength from a tradition and a people, he found new dramatic forms of contemporary universal experience’.

It is this universality that is clearly expressed in Verde, agua y luna. Lorca, played by Luis Gayol, could be said to be ambiguous when he proclaims at the beginning of the play that he is a cosmopolitan – ‘a brother to all’ – at the same time that he is a Spaniard through and through (although he loathes uncritical patriotism – those ‘who love their country wearing a blindfold’). More than his self-proclaimed ‘cosmopolitanism’, it is the common human feelings Lorca’s work evoke that really make him into a universal poet. We experience with Adela, Bernarda Alba’s youngest daughter, enclosed in the oppressive atmosphere of her mother’s house, her yearning to live free of tradition and convention. We watch a sleepless Lorca in his cell creating from his prison blanket a ghostly faceless dance partner reminiscent of the sentiment in his most openly gay love poem, Little Viennese Waltz, in which love was ultimately sterile because it could not engender life. We are confronted with the poignant image of the child drowned in the well and feel the repression and frustration of water with no outlet, and we share the pain of Yerma, in a loveless marriage as sterile as the parched Granada vega. The imagery of green, water and moon that runs through these scenes are simultaneously personal to Lorca, national and universal.

Verde, Agua y Luna is on Thursday to Sunday 7.30pm until May 13th 2018.

The Calder Bookshop and Theatre

51 The Cut SE1 8LF

Photo: Elena Santos


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