IF YOU GO
What: “Fuenteovejuna” performances
When: Every evening through March 7 at
Where: The Black Box Theatre in the Center for Art and Theatre at GSU
Cost: Tickets are $5 for students, $10 for faculty, and $15 for general admission. For more information contact the Theatre at (912) 478-5379.
Parental advisory is suggested for the show as it contains strong language and some sexual situations.
Staging a revolution is hard work. It takes time, dedication, and patience. Attempting to rally a troupe of college students to the cause only adds to the dilemma.
So, in order to stage Lope de Vega’s “Fuenteovejuna” sparking an uprising is exactly what Georgia Southern professor Lisa Abbott is attempting to do.
A classic tale of revolt against tyranny, Fuenteovejuna, opened Wednesday in GSU’s Black Box Theatre. It is the story of a small town of peasants rising up against the Comendador and the Knights of Calatrava. The play is based on historical events that took place in the village of Fuenteovejuna in Castile, Spain in 1476. However, the current production is set during the Spanish Civil War, pinning the Knights against the Monarch.
Out of the Golden Age of Spanish drama comes de Vega’s town, and with them justice for the suffering they have endured. The secret to a revolt, Abbott said, is guns, lots of guns.
“Seriously. Mob scenes are a challenge — because the actors have to ad lib lines and really commit to the action” Abbott said. “One of the key things is to get each actor to think in terms of creating their individual character, even when they are playing someone that is simply identified as ‘peasant.”
“Why is this person rebelling? What has happened that would make this person commit an act of violence against another human being?”
Actors playing Abbott’s villagers spent time during rehearsal researching modern revolutions such as those in Egypt, Libya and Syria in order to understand what it takes for a village to take arms against its leader.
In Fuenteovejuna, that leader is the Comendador who’s violent and malicious acts disgrace the honor of the town. He forces the village into a situation where they must choose to break the laws of the land or live under his rule.
“One of the strengths of the play is how the actions of the Comendador build to the point the villagers have to take action or they have to live in shame, they are lead to a point where they must either act or die,” said Abbott.
This adaptation of the play is the result of the NEA Access to Artistic Excellence grant to the Miracle Theatre Group in Portland, Oregon. The result was a collaboration between Abbott’s friend and playwright William S. Gregory and Miracle Theatre’s Artistic Associate Daniel Jaquez. The play maintains elements of the original work-its liveliness and urgency as well as the sense of poetry--and confronts issues that resonate with today’s society.
“Looking at the events of last year, the Arab Spring, the fact that this play, written almost 400 years ago still resonates with the human experience today, how could we not do it...ideas of leadership, the role of government in a citizens’ lives, and a person’s ability to challenge and address social and political inequalities are all brought into question,” Abbott said.
For Abbott, the play speaks to the power of theatre and its ability to transcend time.
“Theatre is meant to entertain but also to move you, to explore what it means to be human, to make you think and this play does that,” Abbott said.
“It gives you a chance to see the world through the eyes of a Spanish writer from the 15th Century and discover that there are many things that are the same as today. That the ideas of love, honor, dignity are worth fighting for. That courage isn't easy and that even the smallest act of defiance can lead to freedom.”
“Fuenteovejuna” performances are every evening through March 7 at 7:30 p.m. in the Black Box Theatre in the Center for Art and Theatre. Parental advisory is suggested for the show as it contains strong language and some sexual situations. Tickets are $5 for students, $10 for faculty, and $15 for general admission. For more information contact the Theatre at (912) 478-5379.