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The story of Federico García Lorca’s “Blood Wedding” is tragic — a man is murdered trying to run away with a bride on the eve of her wedding. But the writing in the play, and the decision by Cornell directors to set some of that dialogue to music and movement, makes the intense story also one of love, magic and poetry.

Directed by E.D. Intemann ’84 and Emily Ranii ’07, “Blood Wedding” opens Thursday, April 24 at the Department of Performing Arts’ Schwartz Center and runs through May 2.

“In an age of technology, STEM fields and increasing mediation between people, this play speaks in an immediate, poetic and visceral manner to those things that are at the core of our humanity: life, death, love, passion, desire, family, community, tradition,” Intemann said. “The play confronts these topics in the story telling, language and poetry, music, dance and visual mise-en-scene.”

Lorca was a Spanish dramatist, poet and director who lived from 1898-1936, when he was murdered. Trained as a classical pianist, he was a prominent member of the Generation of ’27, a stylistically diverse group of Spanish writers united by their interest in the avant-garde. He wrote “Blood Wedding” in 1932, inspired by a true story.

“We knew from the moment we picked the show that it needed strong musical composition, but Lorca only left fragments of themes for the songs in the play; these needed to be fleshed out more fully,” Intemann said, adding that alum Danny Bernstein ’14 was chosen to write the original musical score. “Music and dance allow the play to go beyond language in expressing the power of the human emotion. When that power can’t be contained by pedestrian language it becomes elevated to poetry, to music and to movement.”

Lorca was deeply interested in folkloric and gypsy traditions such as flamenco, Intemann said. The show features the choreography of Jumay Chu, PMA senior lecturer.
Featuring a cast of 17 undergraduate actors, the show also includes students in key directing, design, sound and creative roles, including Brian Murphy ’16, the show’s assistant director.

“I’ve spent a lot of time working on the text with individual members of the cast, and also a lot of time researching the music of Lorca and Flamenco,” Murphy said. “I feel as though we are both remaining very true to Lorca’s intentions and creating a show that is highly engaging.”

For actor Claire Roberson ‘15, who plays the bride, fitting into a corset for her role was the least of the challenges.

“The Bride is trying to figure out what it means to be a part of Spanish rural society, so there is this great dichotomy between what is expected of her and what she actually wants,” Roberson said. “That’s been an exciting challenge for me.”

Chandler Waggoner ’15, who plays the bridegroom, said one of the most inspiring moments of rehearsal came from the actress who plays his mother.

“She found the love a mother has for her son, the fear she has for his safety, and, at the same time, found the loss, the anger, and the turmoil of losing the men in her life; my character to marriage, and her husband and other son to ‘the knife,’ “ he said.

“I’ve done a lot of musicals, but this is the first time I’ve done a play with music,” said Alex Quilty ’15, who plays Leonardo. “It was great seeing a cast with an incredibly varied musical background come together to learn the music, and then to see how much the music adds to the show as a whole.”

The show will take place in the Schwartz Center’s Kiplinger Theatre and performances will begin at 7:30 p.m. April 24-25 and May 1-2, with a matinee performance at 2 p.m. on May 2. Tickets are $13 general, $11 students and seniors, and can be purchased at or at the box office, open from 2-7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and one hour prior to each performance.

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.