The Dark Humor of Spanish Civil War Play ¡Ay, Carmela!
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The last date listed for ¡Ay, Carmela! was Sunday October 9, 2011 / 3:00pm.
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Three adult brothers come together to celebrate Christmas with their widowed father and are… More
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The actors are stupendously good; their movements and speaking are beautiful. The play too is good. But this was my first time at GALA and my partner and I know no Spanish. The translations were on both sides of the stage and one had to either...continued
star this review starred report as inappropriate
Two character tour de force but the English subtitles are distracting in such a way as to detract from the experience. They are obviously necessary for non-Spanish speakers but audience members are compelled to watch the subtitles and not the...continued
“I am thrilled that we are producing ¡Ay, Carmela! as part of our binational cultural collaboration with Acción Sur from Madrid,” states Hugo Medrano, GALA’s Producing Artistic Director. “Last year, we initiated this multi-year program with Acción Sur with a classic of Spain’s Golden Age, “El caballero de Olmedo” by Lope de Vega. This year we are working across the Atlantic to explore together one of Spain’s most important contemporary playwrights, whose mournful plea against armed conflict has touched audiences throughout Europe and Latin America.”
“We chose to stage ¡Ay, Carmela!,” adds director José Luis Arellano-García, “because it speaks to the tragedy of the Spanish people under the fascists’ tyranny, which spread throughout Europe in the 1930s. This play is an endearing chronicle of remembrance, and an homage to the dignity of an artist and to human sensibility. Sinisterra reminds us, with great humor, of the importance of memory and the complexity of human behavior in compromising situations.”
When Carmela and Paulino, a vaudeville comedy duo, accidentally fall into the hands of Franco’s fascists troops during the Spanish Civil War, they witness an execution and then are forced to perform for other captives and soldiers. But as heels and castanets clatter, their own intriguing story unfolds in a riot of black humor and ghostly passion. In a world still riddled with conflict, this heartbreaking portrayal of love and loss is a poignant testimony to the inhumanity of war.
¡Ay, Carmela! premiered in Zaragoza, Spain in 1987 and became one of the Spanish-speaking world’s most spectacular successes of the past 20 years. This award-winning play has been produced throughout Latin America and Europe, and translated into seven languages. In 1990, the acclaimed Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura premiered his own film version of the play, and in the same year Sinisterra was awarded the National Theatre Prize.
This co-production is the second international project between GALA and the dynamic Spanish company Acción Sur that involves artists from the United States and Spain. As part of the collaboration, one of the actors traveled to Madrid in August 2011 for rehearsals with the director and other cast member who are from Spain. The co-production is made possible with support from the Embassy of Spain in Washington, DC, the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, INEAM, Asociación Cultural Mundos del Teatro, the Program for Cultural Cooperation between Spain’s Ministry of Culture and U.S. Universities, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
About the Production
Featured in the cast are guest artist Mona Martínez from Spain as Carmela, and Diego Mariani from Argentina as Paulino. Among the productions in Spain in which Ms. Martínez has appeared are El burlador de Sevilla and El perro del Hortelano at Teatro Respira, Alicia at Teatro Réplika, and Avaricia, lujuria y muerte at Centro Dramático Nacional. Mr. Mariani last appeared at GALA in Momia en el closet-The Return of Eva Perón. He also has appeared in Cabaret at Teatro Castral, Sueño de una noche de verano at Teatro San Martín, El informe del Dr. Krupp at Teatro Nacional Cervantes, and El Zorro at Teatro Opera. Mr. Mariani was nominated for the 1999 Premio Trinidad Guevara for his performance in El magnífico Cornudo.
José Luis Arellano-García is a theater, opera and television director from Spain, and is the director of the Drama School of the City of Parla in Spain. He directed Fuente Ovejuna at the 2009 International Festival of Classic Theatre of Almagro, featuring youth from Parla. This production was presented at the Shakespeare Theatre and GALA in April 2009. Last season, he directed El caballero de Olmedo for GALA’s 35th Anniversary Season, as well as an adaptation of Cervantes’s Numancia, performed by the Youth Theater of Parla at GALA. Currently, he is Assistant Director to Gerardo Vera, who directed Platónov by Anton Chekov and Mother Courage by Bertolt Brecht at the María Guerrero National Theater.
Set design is by Giorgos Tsappas, who designed sets for Bodas de sangre at GALA and Pop! at Studio Theatre Second Stage. Light and sound design are by Antonio Serrano, and costumes are by Rosa Andújar. Properties are by Tessa Grippaudo, who designed for Beauty of the Father. Andrés Holder is Production Manager in Washington, Olga Reguilón serves as Production Manager in Spain, and Andrés Luque is Technical Director. For this binational collaboration, Mr. Peralto is the Producer in Spain and Hugo Medrano is Producer in Washington, DC.
About the Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil War began with an attempted military coup d’état against the Republican government in July of 1936. In response, Spain’s leading trade union called for a nation-wide strike, and working class revolutions rose across the country against Primo de Rivera, the de facto leader of the fascist movement.
The 30,000 workers-turned-revolutionaries were known as the Red Army and fought against the Spanish military, which was led by future dictator Francisco Franco. Franco was an extreme nationalist who encouraged ruthless military operations that included torture and murder. During the three year war, over 500,000 people lost their lives, many of whom were civilians. Volunteers from approximately 54 countries supported both sides of the war. Hitler and Mussolini, the fascist leaders of Germany and Italy, provided incredible amounts of military aid, including weapons and advisors. The war ended on March 31, 1939 when Franco declared the Nationalists’ victory, marking the beginning of his 36 years of dictatorship.