Last weekend, I went with the Tufts-Skidmore Spain program to Granada, Andalucía. In addition to its beautiful views of the Sierra Nevada, winding, hilly streets lined with white buildings, and the Alhambra, Granada is known for having been the home of Federico García Lorca, arguably the most well-known Spanish author. Lorca was executed at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War for the controversial, socially conscious subject matter of his plays and for being a homosexual.
In Granada, we visited Lorca’s summer home, Huerta de San Vicente, and learned more about his life, art, and death. While we were at the Huerta, our peer mentors surprised us with a presentation about Lorca and a brief reading of one of his plays, La Casa de Bernarda Alba. That was particularly helpful to me because I am reading La Casa de Bernarda Alba in my feminist literature class at the program center and was having trouble dedicating enough time to reading and understanding the play while we were traveling and staying in a hotel together. I felt very lucky when they started performing the play and I realized I understood more of it in that format. La Casa de Bernarda Alba is the last play that Lorca finished before his execution and he wrote it while he was living in Huerta de San Vicente, so it was very moving to see a few scenes performed there.
On Monday night, the day after we returned from Granada, my Feminist Literature class and Transatlantic Literature class (which I will describe further in an upcoming post!) met at el Teatro Reina Victoria in Madrid to watch a performance of La Casa de Bernarda Alba. This particular interpretation combined flamenco and theater, so it was a bit different than what I had envisioned while I was reading the play.
I had seen flamenco before with the program, but this performance was different because the flamenco served to further the story and show how the characters were feeling. It was interesting seeing how and when the director chose to have the characters stop talking to each other and start dancing to express themselves instead. As a person who loves stories, I really liked this format because flamenco is such an emotional dance, but the audience often does not know why the dancer is feeling a certain way. It was a completely different experience watching flamenco knowing that, for example, that character is named Magdalena and she is sad and angry because her father died. The actors, dancers, and musicians in La Casa de Bernarda Alba were all extremely talented and intriguing to watch, although I did not understand everything that happened.
I also had the opportunity to see La Sección, a play about female fascists in Spain during the Civil War and Franco’s dictatorship, with the Tufts-Skidmore Spain program. One of the many things I really like about the professors here is that they incorporate the city of Madrid into the curriculum. I also recently read Luces de Bohemia, a play based in Madrid, in my Transatlantic Literature course, and my class is meeting after school next week to retrace the steps of the main character.