“I need a glass of water and I have neither glass nor water.” Through this simple image, Federico Garcia Lorca captures the yearning central to his play, Yerma. Certainly, it is an image to which we can relate in our drought-stricken part of the country.
Yerma (meaning 'Barren') is one of three tragic plays that make up Lorca's 'rural trilogy'. It is possibly Lorca's harshest play, following a woman's extraordinary struggle for motherhood. Yerma’s barrenness becomes a metaphor for her marriage in a traditional society that denies women sexual and social equality. Her desperate desire for her body’s unfulfilled purpose becomes an increasingly destructive obsession which drives her to commit a terrible crime.
The play has a simple story-line, charting the mounting anguish of the childless young wife and the reactions of those around her. For the passionate Yerma, maternity is the consuming purpose of her life, yet she is irrevocably committed to her marriage as the only honourable means to fulfilling it. Troubled by a sense of something wrong in her relationship with her husband (the hard-working, emotionally withdrawn Juan) she nevertheless refuses to acknowledge her enduring attraction to Víctor, a local shepherd.
Her restless behaviour makes her the object of local gossip and her husband’s resentment and vigilance. Yerma’s drive towards self-realisation, an all-consuming thirst that she cannot name or hold, clashes with the strict, oppressive moral codes of the society she is born into.
Written in 1934 by the much celebrated Spanish writer Federico García Lorca, the play is a poetic blend of contrasting moods through which Lorca probes the darker zones of human fears and desires. The play's rich mode of expression - infused with poetic imagery, song and movement - also celebrates natural instinct, sexual attraction, fertility, creation and procreation.
This production is presented by the newly formed UCT Centre for Theatre, Dance & Performance Studies. Geoffrey Hyland, assisted by Puleng Stewart, directs the 4th year Acting Studio. Choreography is by Jared Musiker and Godfrey Johnson composes music for Lorca’s poetry. Set Design is by Jenni-Lee Crewe with Nicolas Mayer; Costume Design by Leigh Bishop.
Hyland has long been drawn to Lorca’s enigmatic poetic works and has directed 2 productions each of Blood Wedding and The House of Bernarda Alba. Collaborating with La Rosa Spanish Dance Company, Hyland adapted both these plays to dance works as well.
Contact usCentre for Theatre, Dance & Performance Studies University of Cape Town Private Bag X3 7701 Rondeboschctdps@uct.ac.za