STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For 21st Century Media
A lover awaits. A bride flees into the night. A celebration becomes a nightmare. Just another night of unique theater in Philadelphia.
“Blood Wedding,” a play written by Federico Garcia Lorca in 1933, is a tragedy of passion and revenge. It’s being brought to life by the Philadelphia Artists’ Collective (PAC) and the Mandell Professionals in Residence Project at Drexel University (Drexel provides the space and students from the college collaborate with professionals in the theater and dance communities).
The play stars Victoria Rose Bonito, Judith Lightfoot Clarke, Eric Scotolati, and Jay Hernandez, and is directed by Damon Bonetti, co-founder of PAC.
“It’s a beautiful poetic play about vengeance and our ability to forgive, and how fate and choice play an extreme part in our lives,” Bonetti said.
And though it’s a tragedy, there’s much humor and humanity as well, he said. When people arrive at the theater, they’ll hear music and see dancing in the lobby “because you’re coming to a wedding,” he said.
Bonetti likes making theater an immersive experience: “The whole thing becomes an event,” he said. “You become immersed in the world of the show.”
Something new: this production is the largest PAC has ever done. The group is collaborating with Drexel actors, guest professional actors, and professional musicians. The cast is bigger; there’s more music and it’s more poetic than other productions. But as usual, the PAC production is focusing on a play that’s rarely produced and bringing it to life.
The story resembles Romeo and Juliet in that two people want to get married to the dismay of everyone else. There’s a man in this play, though, that breaks everything apart. Choices are made; fate does some smiting.
Fate is smiling on the production process, though. Bonetti is pleased with how the project is evolving.
“This is their house [referring to the Drexel participants] and PAC is the guest. It’s been great,” he said. “They’re here to work and they’re talented. Everyone’s getting along.”
One of the actors he’s directing is Judith Lightfoot Clarke, who plays The Mother (Lorca uses generic character names).
“The Mother for me is strong, the ways mothers who have lost are,” she said. “This woman lost her husband and her oldest son in violent ways. She’s living in a world of violence where children still are not safe.”
Being the mother of two sons, Clarke can relate – The Mother is protective and loving. “That’s true of virtually every parent,” she said.
Clarke likes that The Mother is strong: “She’s intuitive and emotional. She’s raw and great fun to work on.”
With the family dynamic and the other aspects of the story, Clarke thinks the play is an engaging, entertaining piece of theater. And though it’s a tragedy, while the story unfolds, the people are “exultantly and passionately alive,” she said. “There’s great life in the piece.”
And the end? Well, audiences will just have to see how things go.
“It’s going to be a ride that you get on and it goes all the way through,” Clarke said.
IF YOU GO
What: “Blood Wedding”
Where: Mandell Theater at Drexel University, 33rd and Chestnut streets, Philadelphia.
When: Previews Nov. 6-7; runs Nov. 8 through 23.
Tickets: $25; students $15.
Info.: Check www.philartistscollective.org.