`I have made a terrible discovery ... I have not yet been born ... I live off borrowed substance; what I have within me is not mine.'
In his four last plays Federico Garcia Lorca offered his disturbed and disturbing personal vision to Spanish audiences of the 1930s - unready, as he thought them, for the sexual frankness and surreal expression of his more experimental work. The ill-fated lovers of Blood Wedding, the desolate Yerma, the fading spinster Rosita, and Bernarda Alba's abused household of women all inhabit a familiar Andalusia. Their predicaments are starkly plotted, with a stagecraft rooted in
classical theatrical tradition. In such figures Lorca addresses the cultural and political ferment of his time with a fiercely libertarian assault on 'old and wrong moralities', fusing the personal and the political through his virtuoso mastery of images.
Yet all that mastery can barely keep at bay the anguished contradictions of these doomed human lives. Hence the authentic sense of danger - the duende, to use his own word of Lorca's theatre, finely conveyed here in John Edmunds's fluent and rhythmic new translations that lend themselves admirably to performance.
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Nicholas Round is Hughes Professor of Hispanic Studies at the University of Sheffield. His published and performed translations of Spanish and Portuguese theatre range from the 17th-century comedia to the 1950s. John Edmunds founded the Department of Theatre, Film, and Television Studies at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, and was Director from 1973 to 1985. Four of his translations of plays by Racine and Moliere have been broadcast on BBC Radio Three. He performs in `spoken word' recital programmes.
Blood Wedding ; Yerma ; The House of Bernada ; Dona Rosita the Spinster