One of the biggest hits in the Spanish theatre of the past few years was a production of García Lorca’s House of Bernarda Alba performed by eight Roma woman from the troubled El Vacie neigbhorhood in Seville. The play was performed for sell-out audiences all over the country and the press praised it for the extraordinary power of the women, who adapted the script to their own living conditions. They were supported by professionals from the renowned theatre company Atalya-TNT, which has its headquarters right next to El Vacie. A few years ago, the group decided to make its activities more accessible to its immediate neighbors. The unique collaboration that led to tonight’s production was the immediate result of this outreach.
The play, which Lorca wrote right before his violent death in the Spanish Civil War in 1936, is about a rural house in Andalusia. Three generations of women, headed by the rather dominant Bernarda Alba, try to live together in this place with ups and downs and plenty of tension. The performance effectively explores all kinds of pressure, passion, and gender relations from the perspective of Roma women.
The production continues to be a life changing experience for these amazing women. Without any formal schooling, it enabled them to leave their homes and chores for the first time in their lives – and their children in the care of their husbands – to travel around Spain and now, by plane, to Rotterdam.