The story of a rural Spanish community’s collision with tradition will come to life this week in a theatre drama at North East School of the Arts (NESA). Aspiring young actors, dancers and musicians have been working for several months with Director Chloe Treat on a production of Federico García Lorca’s “Blood Wedding.”
The 1932 Spanish classic tragedy of ritual gone wrong explores the riveting story of a young woman who flees her wedding to run away with the son of a rival family, uncovering themes of deep-seated conflict between nature and human relationship in the midst of decaying cultural constructs.
The show opens at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 26 in the Robert E. Lee High School auditorium, 1400 Jackson Keller Rd. Tickets are $8 in advance, call (210) 356-1036, and $10 at the door (cash and check only). Shows continue throughout the weekend, closing with a 2:30 p.m. matinée on Sunday, March 1. Visit the NESA website for details.
Treat is a New York director and choreographer, a recent graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and alumnus of NESA, which was recently ranked as one of the top 10 high school drama schools nationwide. She returned from New York City to lead more than 60 aspiring young actors, dancers, musicians, and tech crew in this production.
Having worked on regional, Off-Broadway and Broadway-bound productions in New York and surrounding areas, Treat most recently worked on highly praised productions of “Kansas City Choir Boy” and “The Lightning Thief.” The day after “Blood Wedding” closes, Treat will return to New York to choreograph a production of Offenbach’s “Daphnis and Chloé” for Heartbeat Opera.
The story, translated by Ted Hughes, unfolds through Lorca’s provocative, modern use of poetry and symbolism – communicated not only through human characters such as the Bride and Groom, their parents, and community, but also through characters such as Death and the Moon, to weave a surreal dark tale of oppression, anxiety, and bottled emotion. Treat has added to this mix her original choreography and an original score created especially for this production by New York based composer Daniel Rider, which will be played by a five-member NESA instrumental ensemble.
“In ‘Blood Wedding,’ Lorca created an incredibly porous text that allows you to build a highly theatrical world. I loved that the play gave me an opportunity to use music and to choreograph, as well as to work with a large group of women, all qualities that are hard to find in most plays,” Treat said.
“This is a deeply ensemble-driven production, and the set is based entirely on the concept that every cast member is vital to making the world move correctly. The day we got on stage and actually got to see how the set being manipulated by the ensemble worked (and that it did work) was incredibly satisfying. The result is really stunning.”
As a mother of a NESA senior, I often come upon the “ugh, another high school musical” mindset. But those able to set aside the stereotype will find that a NESA production is one of San Antonio’s best-kept theater secrets.
“Our students bring an advanced passion and commitment to their work. Coming from all over Bexar County, they leave their home campuses, and at NESA find a like-minded community of young artists who want to be challenged and pushed to work at an advanced level,” said David Connelly, an equity actor himself and NESA’s drama director since 1997. “Musical theater majors have daily classes in acting, voice, and dance, and our main stage productions are showcases for the curriculum that the kids are immersed in every day.”
Like Treat, many NESA students go on to pursue arts-related college degrees and professional careers. Currently, there are NESA alumni pursuing degrees in musical theatre, drama, film, music, and other arts fields at top schools in the nation such as New York University, Pace University, Ithaca College, the Boston Conservatory, Berklee College of Music, CalArts, Northwestern University and DePaul University, to name just a few.
“’Blood Wedding’ is the latest in our tradition of squeezing a less commercial, and often more theatrically challenging play into our season. That said, ‘Blood Wedding’ is showcasing a performance and visual style unlike anything we’ve done before,” Connelly said.
So get to the theater this weekend. “Blood Wedding” will capture your imagination, and give you a window into the lives of young people long ago and how their lives are relevant, remembered and communicated by our community’s next generation of artists today.
*Featured/top image: Woodcutters discuss the chase going on, and prepare for the Moon to appear. Photo by Sandra Trevino.