My grandmother lived for 30 years or more in the house her father built her on top of a hill in the countryside of Ibiza. We used to go and visit in the summer holidays when I was a child. Vivid sense memories still come back to me in dreams: of the pine trees that encircled the hilltop, toasting breakfast pastries on the veranda, slatted sunlight through giant shutters and women in black working in the hot olive groves. Perhaps that is why I fell in love with [Federico García] Lorca when I was 16 years old and first encountered his plays at college. The extraordinary poetry, his surreal, strongly felt world and the passionate people, particularly the women, that inhabited it captivated me. The first thing I ever directed was The House of Bernarda Alba a year later.
When I approached Marie McCarthy, Omnibus Theatre’s Artistic Director, over a year ago about the possibility of staging a production, Blood Wedding immediately came to mind. I was excited by the prospect of a long-held ambition made real and began to imagine the Mother and Son in the story as restaurant owners living in London now. I’ve always loved poetry and writing and with the help of our brilliant dramaturg, Fay Lomas, the re-imagined version of the story flowed out.
One of the biggest challenges was to recreate the symbolism and metaphors in a contemporary urban setting whilst trying my best to be true to the spirit and feel of the original. Certain ideas such as Mother and Death being played by the same actress almost as the yin and yang of one person and the Moon character being a gender ambiguous creature of the night occurred to me very early on. I spoke to Spanish people living in London now and spent a lot of time reading around the text as well as looking at the original in translation and even at the Spanish- although I am sadly not fluent. All the characters in this version of the story have their roots in Spain, but some feel very at home here while others long to go back. I believe we tend to have complex, often conflicted feelings about our home nations- and also about adopting a new one – and have tried to let this be part of the play without upstaging the core of Lorca’s story.
I hope people will be as drawn into the story as I was when I first encountered it and fascinated by the strangeness of the style in which it is told. I’d love audiences to feel a connection towards the central characters and their dilemmas such as feeling trapped by life, being unable to process grief, and struggling hard against fate. There is something urgent and primal in Lorca that speaks to a deep part of the human condition regardless of where and when the story is set. I’m sure the original music our talented composer Camilla Mathias has made will touch people and remain with them and I can’t wait to get in the theatre space with the actors and Patricia Suarez, our movement director, to breathe life into the characters and explore their physical world.