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Towards a Crosspollination Dramaturgical Approach: Blood Wedding and No Demand No Supply

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The two Beggars joining the Moon on the stage of the Roxy. Blood Wedding, AUB Theatre Initiative, Hammana Village, April 2018. Photo Credit: Natalie Hindaoui.

Our own dramatization of the play was a faithful adaptation of Garcia Lorca’s text in terms of characters and plot, yet we chose to present it in a village instead of a proscenium. The audience arrived at Hammana Artists House and at the beginning of the play they were divided into two groups by two beggars. I doubled Garcia Lorca’s Beggar whom we meet in Act 3 and gave them an extra function: the Beggars guide the audiences just like they guide other characters in the play. It was as if Lorca’s Death character is taking us on a journey of life. The audiences are first greeted at Hammana Artist House by the two beggars at the beginning of the show and led to the houses of The Mother, Leonardo and The Bride, i.e., houses of the villagers of Hammana. The Beggars then take the audiences to the wedding ceremony and on to the manhunt at the end of Act 2. The last two scenes of the play took place in an old cinema house named Roxy, and a church, respectively. The audience members are taken to an old auditorium and asked to sit and watch as the play becomes surreal. In the 60-year old Roxy cinema, the Beggars stop being the guides for awhile and join the action on-stage to assist the Groom in finding Leonardo and The Bride. With the scenographer Ghida Hashisho, we chose the trees, one element common to the village and Garcia Lorca’s forest, to create a surreal atmosphere in the Roxy. The forest where the men kill each other is flipped upside down. Being in an old movie theatre, the love scene between Leonardo and the Bride is projected on a large screen, reminiscent of the cinema, layered with grotesque trees. After they complete their mission, the Beggars guide the audience to the last scene in a church.

Audiences with their guide, The Beggar, leaving the Bride’s house and on to the next scene. Blood Wedding, AUB Theatre Initiative, Hammana Village, April 2018. Photo Credit: Natalie Hindaoui.

Acting followed a realistic approach. The actors were immersed in their characters in tune with the realistic untouched scenic spaces (except for the Roxy). But despite the realistic acting and the ready-made realistic atmosphere of the village, the dramaturgical approach didn’t aim to conceal the theatrical fabrication. What we aimed at was to create a fictional world within the context of the realistic setup of the village. The costumes belonged to a different era, the music to various different countries, and, most crucially, the translation of the play presented a familiar yet elevated language observing the spirit of Garcia Lorca’s poetic text and Langston Hughes’ equally lyrical translation to English (which is the English translation I used to compose a Lebanese Arabic version of the play).

A Woodcutter playing the flute as audiences are coming in to Roxy. Blood Wedding, AUB Theatre Initiative, Hammana Village, April 2018. Photo Credit: Natalie Hindaoui.

The difference between the staged scenes in realistic houses/settings, and the experience of the village in between the scenes, served as a central dramaturgic juncture. The village, its happenings and its “characters” served as another dramatic layer on top of our choreography of Garcia Lorca’s story. The spectators were constantly invited to switch between two main channels, the plot line of the play and that of the village, both simultaneously presenting images and actions. It was left up to them to combine both channels in one vision. This prominent difference between the world of the play and that of the village presented the audiences with a complex puzzle. They not only had different perspectives into the scenes and the environment of the village, but they were also constantly aware of the presence of other audience members. It was up to them to create a synthesis of the various pieces, staged and un-staged, presented to them. For instance, as audiences leave the church where the last scene in the play takes place and head back to starting point, i.e., Hammana Artist House, and as they are marching silently, a graveyard appears in their view, which simply happened to be on our way back to the initial meeting point. This ready-made set-up generated a powerful effect and gave audiences a much-needed closure after an intense last scene. Some thought it was choreographed.

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