U theater takes on passion and foreign culture with ‘Blood Wedding’

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“This play is about passion, it’s about violence, it’s about honor,” said Actor Training Program junior Leticia Vélez of the U theater department’s current Babcock production.

In her fifth and final play at the U, Vélez said the 20th century “Blood Wedding” by Spanish poet and playwright Federico García Lorca “has been the most intense show” in which she has performed.

Before taking on her role as the Mother, Vélez began her involvement with the production last August by working with director Sandra Shotwell to co-translate the script, which will be provided to the Lorca family estate for consideration of publication.

After translating the play, Vélez served as dramaturge to “Blood Wedding,” during which she conducted research on the setting of the play — Andalucia, Spain — and on the poetry and thoughts of the playwright, which she affectionately referred to as “falling in love with Lorca.”

In her research, Vélez discovered that Lorca felt a strong connection between theater and the political.

“According to Lorca, the purpose of theater is to educate people and to bring community together,” she said.

The inspiration for Lorca’s “Blood Wedding” came from a community newspaper article regarding a crime that had been committed, and 15 years after reading it, he turned it into a play, said Vélez.

“All the newspaper article said was that on this wedding day, a bride ran away with another person and, as a result, there was a murder,” she said.

Vélez noted that Lorca based his story on this and then “filled it with everything he loved about (the Andalucian) culture,” something director Shotwell is primarily concerned with.

“(Shotwell) is so passionate about the play and so driven about really honoring the culture,” Vélez said. “We’ve had to train ourselves on the dignity, the passion and the deep honor of the culture,” adding that one of the most foreign concepts is showing respect without smiling when acknowledging or greeting a person.

“In this culture, we have no smiles,” she said.

A technical challenge comes in the requirement of having every actor on stage for the entire production with no exits.

When the performers are not acting, they are helping to fuse together the world of “Blood Wedding,” which includes a unique Arabic-Spanish style of song and flamenco dancing. Actors also clap, make sound effects and change scenery while on stage.

“It is a complete ensemble cast,” said Vélez. “It’s organic.”

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What: “Blood Wedding” by Federico García Lorca

When: April 2-5 and April 10-13

Where: Babcock Theatre, located downstairs in the Pioneer Memorial Theatre

Show times and ticket information available at www.kingtix.com.

A free informative panel, co-sponsored by the University’s International Studies Program, will be offered immediately following the matinee on April 5.

Jarad Reddekopp

Leticia Velez, Patrick Harris and Dave Bonnet practice their roles in the upcoming play “Blood Wedding.” The play will run April 2-5 and 10-13 at the Babcock theatre.