Passion, lust, revenge and murder are all to be found in Blood Wedding. Philip Parr talks to the Royal National Theatre’s Cyril Ichekukwu Nri about women, men and mothers.
Meddling with the setting of a play can have its drawbacks. but the current Royal National Theatre tour of Frederico Garcia Lorca‘s Blood Wedding claims to have found a better setting than the original. Lorca set the play in pre-Fascist Andalucia, Southern Spain, but the National‘s location of pre-Castro Cuba in the 505 sounds equally fitting for this passionate tale of spurned love, revenge and lust.
‘We’ve obviously given it a much more Caribbean feel.’ says Cyril Ichekukwu Nri. who plays the part of the rejected bridegroom in Blood Wedding. ‘It now has a very strong African inﬂuence in it and it is very, very sensual.‘
The story is a complex yet classical one. There is a widowed mother with a son and a widowed father with a daughter. The two parents decide to marry off their progeny in order to make their land viable for farming and to keep their respective family lines alive. There is the complication, though, that some years ago the bride had a relationship with her cousin, Leonardo, and he is now back on the scene. Added to this, Leonardo just happens to be a member of the family of bandits who killed the bridegroom’s father and brother. Cue arranged marriage, spurned groom,
Fabievision Theatre Company, once again taking Its cue Irom one oi the more unsavoury episodes In Scottish history, has devised a new play, The Scottish Reservation, which draws a parallel between the plight oi Highland croiters during the Clearances and the problems laced by a tribe oi Canadian Indians In the same period. While the croiters were lorced all their land by the ruling classes, the Metis Indians were similarly disowned by the Hudson Bay Company. But the link between the
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. society.‘ explains Nri. ‘but the characters are all ; important. Ifyou look at Lorca‘s original script,
i wall-ﬂower and hard-nosed manipulator — are , rejected in favour ofthree-dimensional female characters with minds of their own. Nri, though
two societies did not end there.
' Thomas Douglas Selkirk (who was basically an aristo with a heart) used his fortune to relocate some oi the evicted Scottish croiters to Canada and they ended up living with the Metis in the Red RiverValley.
As usual, Fabievision will place more emphasis on design and directorial ! elements than dialogue. Designer, i ’ Rita Winters, who has just returned irom researching the show in Canada, explains the motivation oi the company. ‘We work a lot with the mentally and physically handicapped,’ she says, ‘and we ieel very strongly that the use at complicated dialogue excludes a lot at people irom theatre experiences. The way we use dialogue is to spit It out as chants and echoes, and punching home iniormatlon by
The National's blood Wedding: strongly Airican and very sensual
hunt for revenge and death. in that order. ‘The play has got a lot of things to say about
gives a hint that it is still, ultimately the men who call the shots.
‘I don‘t want the bridegroom to come across just as a mummy’s boy,‘ he says ‘because I never feel comfortable with buffoons who just accept everything that goes on around them. So I’m trying to play him as a man who, yes, accedes to his mother's ruling but plays games with her to get his own way as well.
‘And where the battle for the bride is concerned, he is a man as good as Leonardo, but differently. Leonardo would pick a woman up, throw her on his horse and have the wind blowing through her hair. I would get her a horse with a side-saddle.
3 And they may still ride along with the wind
blowing through their hair but they would ride separately. He has a certain amount of breeding
. and etiquette.’
Blood Wedding, Mitchell Theatre, Glasgow, Thurs
. 31 Oct—Sat2 Nov.
the only person who is given a name is Leonardo who is the outsider. In Lorca‘s version. they‘re called the bride, the bridegroom. the mother. the E mother-in-law et cetera. Leonardo is the one that i goes against convention. so in some ways he‘s a I much more complete character than the rest. The ' other characters obey convention, they live by the I rules ofsociety.’ = Lorca has a great sensitivity for his characters, even if he didn't originally manage to give them names. and Nri feels that the women‘s roles especially are among the best in contemporary theatre. The two classic extremes — simpering
and the croiters.’
Winters also co-wrote the piece. ‘You’ve got to wear dlilerent hats,’ she says, ‘because ii I tried to think about design, then that would limit whatl would write. We've only got eight in the cast and almost instantaneously they’ve to change irom Metls, to croiters, to particular historical characters. So when we were writing we'd have It all worked out and say “he’s playing so and so and she’s playing such and such,” then the army comes in and there‘s only one actor left. So he’s going to have to run all the stage and come round time and again. It should be interesting.’ (Philip Parr)
Michele Wearing as Ision Woman
I repeating a word over and over again. : We use movement, we use music and
the visuals are very important. We will ; tell, by subtly changing the costumes, 1 oi the gradual integration oi the Metis
: A Scottish Reservation begins its tour ‘ at The Arches Theatre, Glasgow on Tue 29 October.
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The List 25 October — 7 November 1991 45