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Two theatre pals dive beneath the floor in ‘The House of Bernarda Alba’


For years now, Soheil Parsa has identified that he would direct “The House of Bernarda Alba,” by Spanish playwright Federico Garcia Lorca. And he knew that when he directed it, Beatriz Pizano could be on the centre of the present: “I cannot do it without Bea,” he stated.

The two, veterans of the Toronto theatre scene, have been working collectively since 1999. Both are immigrants — Parsa from Iran, Pizano from Colombia — who arrange their very own theatre firms as a result of, as Pizano put it, “there were no opportunities for us” once they have been beginning out.

It’s these two firms, Parsa’s Modern Times Stage Company and Pizano’s Aluna Theatre, that are co-producing “The House of Bernarda Alba,” enjoying at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre by way of April 24.

Pizano performs the title position: a domineering matriarch who basically places her 5 grownup daughters below home arrest after the demise of her husband. Tensions construct because the daughters starvation for a life exterior these 4 partitions.

Parsa says that the script, translated by David Johnston, is deceptively easy. “The surface doesn’t take you anywhere. It means nothing. People sitting and talking and complaining,” he stated. The key’s within the subtext: “There is something happening underneath that we need to discover.”

This is the second time Parsa, Pizano and their firms have collaborated on a play by Lorca, and the earlier outcomes have been electrical. “Blood Wedding” was an enormous hit in 2015, successful six Dora Mavor Moore Awards within the impartial theatre division together with Best Production, Best Director (Parsa) and Best Female Performance (Pizano). They revived the manufacturing in 2017, additionally at Buddies in Bad Times.

“He’s not afraid of big passions,” stated Pizano of Lorca. “You don’t have to apologize for your emotions.” For Pizano and Parsa, engaged on Lorca’s performs is a strategy of discovering these passions mendacity beneath the textual content.

Parsa researches for at the very least a 12 months earlier than a manufacturing, studying extensively in regards to the play, the author and the setting. But when he will get into the rehearsal room, he places that to at least one facet to work carefully with the actors. “There’s a constant exchange of ideas and digging and digging, trying to find what is the subtext,” he stated.

“The challenge with Lorca is that it sounds like naturalistic language, but it isn’t,” stated Pizano. “You need to go really big. You need to go up there with him.”

While Parsa is open to discussing selections with actors at size, by this level he and Pizano have a shorthand. “As soon as she goes and tries something and then says, ‘Parsa, I’m not going to do this,’ I say, ‘OK yeah, don’t do it.’ It’s a mutual trust,” he stated.

Parsa calls Pizano’s character “a prisoner of a tradition. She hasn’t managed to get away from the patriarchy,” he stated. “When you are looking at the play, she talks a lot about ‘my father’s house’ … She hasn’t managed to release herself from that deadly dated tradition.” Lorca accomplished the play in 1936, two months earlier than he was killed on the orders of normal Francisco Franco as a result of he had socialist views and was a gay.

Parsa’s understanding of the play is knowledgeable by his expertise of getting to go away Iran in the course of the 1979 revolution as a result of non secular repression: “I personally witnessed a bloody revolution and I experienced an ideological regime. The whole concept of tradition and modernity, it’s really important to me,” he stated.

Pizano agreed that Bernarda’s behaviour is in response to “the world that she lives in and the role that she has to play in society … she really has to protect herself and her daughters,” she stated. This is a well-known theme in Lorca’s work: “Women living in a world that men create, destroy and leave, leaving us to deal with it,” stated Pizano. “That’s what attracts me so much to Lorca. He has incredible respect for women.”

This manufacturing was delayed because of the pandemic, and the rise of a brand new variant throughout rehearsals has not made issues simple. Pizano is rolling with the punches: “You just take it day to day because we don’t know if we’re going to be on tomorrow,” she stated. “You give it all, but it’s like I have no control over what happens.”

There is a resonance for her with the theme of societal evolution within the play: “It’s so hard to change. We still are trying to do a play in the same way that we’ve been doing it, because the whole system has not changed.”

Parsa stepped down as Modern Times’ inventive director final 12 months and that is his first present for the corporate as a contract director. Not having to fret about fundraising and administration “is a joy,” he stated. “I get paid just to come and direct this show.”

While she’s not pondering of leaving Aluna anytime quickly, Pizano stated will probably be vital for whoever takes over, as it’s for Modern Times’ new inventive director, Rouvan Silogix, to make the corporate their very own. “The new people that come in are going to have a different dream completely,” she stated.

“The House of Bernarda Alba” performs at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, 12 Alexander St., by way of April 24. See buddiesinbadtimes.com or name 416-975-8555.

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