The House of Bernarda Alba at Shea Theater

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By LaChonne Reese

The play The House of Bernarda Alba written by Federico Garcia Lorca is a drama about a second time widower and her five unmarried daughters living in 1930s Spain. Following the death if her second husband, domineering matriarch Bernarda Alba forces an 8-year mourning period for her and her unmarried daughters, Augustias (eldest) , Magdalena, Amelia, Martirio , and Adela (youngest).

The play was performed without intermission in the Shea Theater on the Ammerman campus. Directed by Jo Curtis Lester, the film was executed flawlessly from the acting to the stage display. The conviction each actress displayed to really become their characters was evident.FullSizeRender (3)

Bernarda Alba, played by Emily Winter, was the most memorable of them all. Her voice every time she yelled or went to strike one of her daughters with her staff kept the audience at the edge of their seats. Winter’s presence on the stage surpassed that of another actress. She owned the stage every time she stepped on stage and stayed in character from the moment she stepped on the stage to the final moment when she bowed in acceptance of cheers from the audience.

One of the most entertaining characters was Poncia, the maid who was a maid for Bernarda for about 30 years, played by Hayley Kinsler. She kept the audience laughing when she would no subtly add her shrewd sarcastic comments. However being that she knew Bernarda the longest, she was always honest about how controlling Bernarda was. Kinsler made the audience laugh numerous of times and more than once conveyed a character that gave the audience a sense of warmth and familiarity.

Maira Josefa, Bernarda’s crazed mother who spent most of the play locked away in her room, is played by Jessica McMullen. McMullen although not on stage very often was the most memorable because of her screeching voice each time she shouted for Bernarda to release her from her room. Hearing her voice gave me chills just imagining her suffering from being locked away alone in her room. Maria Josefa foreshadowed how Bernarda’s strict hold on her children would someday “turn their hearts into dust”.

FullSizeRenderBernarda Alba’s daughters were, Augustias, played by Hannah Morin; Magdalena, played by Debbie Santiago; Amelia, played by Moriah Ritchie; Martirio, played by Rita Sarli; Adela, played by Brianna Carella. Sarli, who played the physically deformed sister in the play, Martirio, gave a moving performance when she confessed her desire to find a husband just as Augustias did with Pepe. Adela, however gave the most intense performance as she approached each sister with hatred mostly towards Martirio who adored her most. Carella had the most diverse of acting expressions when she communicated her love, hatred, jealousy, and sadness to the audience. Carella was the most professional in conveying her character.

Overall, the play The House of Bernarda Alba was excellent. A two hour work of art in presenting the audience with how life was like for a woman in 1930s Spain. The actresses performed the play with great effort and made that evident.

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