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Talking Theatre

   The programming at Palm Beach Dramaworks is designed to get audiences to think. Starting with an eclectic selection of main-stage productions, the West Palm Beach-based company pushes its patrons to look for deeper meaning, explore new playwrights and examine the role of theatre within contemporary society and throughout history.

   For the 2013-14 season, Dramaworks introduced a new series entitled Dramalogue: Talking Theatre. A descendant of Dramaworks' Master Playwright series, Dramalogue features conversations with artists like playwright Israel Horovitz and poster designer Frank Verlizzo as well as presentations on some of theatre history's greatest scribes.

   The 2013-14 Dramalogue series came to a close on April 8 with a presentation on Spanish dramatist Federico Garcia Lorca. Mark Perlberg, former board chairman of Palm Beach Dramaworks and current friend of the company, led a spirited and comprehensive presentation on the playwright, who was killed by firing squad in 1936 at the age of 38. For Lorca lovers and novices alike, the presentation provided a thorough investigation into the playwright's youth, politics, personality and works, to include readings from his three most famous plays.

Playwright and poet Federico Garcia Lorca

   Federico Garcia Lorca was born in 1898 to a wealthy Spanish family in a small town near Granada. Lorca's heritage was rich with a love of literature and music—two areas the young Lorca instinctually gravitated towards. The oldest of four children, he spent his youth flirting with creative endeavors including composing plays to perform on a miniature theatre set, but he was an unispired student. Though his parents urged him to become a lawyer, Lorca pursued literature instead.

   During his brief lifetime, Lorca became famous for both his poetry and his plays. In 1928, he released a book of poetry entitled Gypsy Ballads, which garnered immediate and widespread success in Spain.

   Though he wrote plays throughout the 1920s (including an ill-advised production about a cockroach that falls in love with a butterfly), his theatrical endeavors, as both director and playwright, truly began in 1931 when he toured the country with a group of university theatre students. Lorca believed that the social mission of theatre was to teach and, as director of the group, he brought theatre to rural towns throughout Spain.

   In 1933, Lorca's Blood Wedding, his first significant and well-known play, was produced. Inspired by true events, Blood Wedding is a tragedy that explores what happens when one does not follow one's instincts and, instead, adheres to societal expectations. A young man marries a woman who is still in love with another man, whom she was forbidden to marry. During the wedding celebration, the woman runs off with her former paramour. The groom finds the couple, and the two men kill each other, leaving the wife to comfort her groom's widowed and now childless mother.

   This struggle between instinct and expectation is prevalent in all of Lorca's plays, including his other two popular dramas Yerma (1934) and The House of Bernarda Alba (1936). Ultimately, these sensational themes and Lorca's personal convictions would lead to his untimely death.

   Lorca was living in Granada in 1936 when the Spanish Civil War swept the country. His derisive writings, leftist politics and homosexuality made him a person of interest to the Nationalist militia. On August 19, Lorca became one of the first casualties of the Spanish Civil War when he was executed by firing squad, cutting short a life and career that would surely have spawned a plethora of poetry and plays. To this day, Lorca is still the most translated Spanish writer of all time.

   In a little over an hour, Mark Perlberg covered all this and more, proving that Palm Beach Dramaworks' Dramalogue series is capable of using theatre to educate and invigorate audiences. Though the series is over for the 2013-14 season, Dramaworks has just announced it will continue the series for 2014-15 and will provide a full agenda in the coming months. To purchase tickets to Dramaworks' remaining 2013-14 productions or to learn more about its 2014-15 season, visit palmbeachdramaworks.org.


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