Blood Wedding with Prof. Vann

15 Feb

Prof. Vann’s class outing to see Blood Wedding recently left student Ali Tran with a lot to think about.  Check out her write up below:

Blood Wedding

Only in the University Honors Program can a student see such wildly different plays within two years. Last year, my Origins and Evolutions of Modern Thought class with Professor Vann went to see Oscar Wilde’s “An Ideal Husband”; this year, our Arts and World cultures class went to see Federico Garcia Lorca’s “Blood Wedding” by the Constellation Theatre Company.

Needless to say, “Blood Wedding” is a very different play with very different themes. Instead of centering around a 19th century British upper class game of power and morality, “Blood Wedding” is about love, desire, deception, and death in 1930’s southernSpain. Interestingly, only one character has a true name. The other characters, who never address each other by name, are labeled Groom, Wife, Mother, Bride, and so on. This is somewhat fitting, since the only named character, Leonardo, becomes the powerful force that changes the fate of the characters and the direction of the story. What was almost a happy wedding and peaceful marriage suddenly becomes a tragedy of deception and death as old feelings resurface, lines are drawn, and emotions run awry.

Death is always present in the play – literally. It’s personified by a somber-looking man wearing black clothes, a red ribbon around his waist, and a black veil screening his face just enough so that the audience feels like it can see him, but he isn’t quite connected to the rest of the characters. Although he haunts each scene and watches the story unfold, only one character can see him: the Mother, who had lost her husband and both of her sons to Death (the dead Groom had been her last son). Death is always on her mind, staring at her, leaving red flowers as an omen, and reaching out to her. When he finally touches her in the last scene, the Mother gives a chilling scream as she suddenly releases her pent-up grief.

The play is a parallel to a story referenced in our class, which focuses on Dante’s Divine Comedy. In the second circle of hell, two characters named Francesca and Paulo are punished for putting love ahead of reason. Though Francesca had been married, they had succumbed to their desire for each other, and died for it. Though they can finally be together, they must suffer in hell for all eternity. Dante would have placed Leonardo and the Bride in the second circle of hell for the same reason. The characters’ love/lust overcame their reason, and they ran off together, despite the fact that they were both married to different people. Ultimately, they were also punished for this; Leonardo and the Groom were both killed, and the Bride was forced to suffer her guilt as the survivor and source of the chaos. There, however, is where morality becomes ambiguous. Should the Bride and Leonardo be punished for giving in to their forbidden love? Or is marriage more important, even if to people whom they love less? Who was to blame for the tragedy?

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