Magazine article American Theatre

La Casa De Los Espiritus (the House of the Spirits)

Magazine article American Theatre

La Casa De Los Espiritus (the House of the Spirits)

Article excerpt

Jose Zayas, DIRECTION: This show for me is a continuous project. It began at Repertorio Espanol [in New York in 2009] and then moved to Chile. We did it at Denver Center Theatre Company in 2010. Each time, it has had a different resonance. Adapter Caridad Svich and I decided the most theatrical entryway into the story would be via Alba in jail. The image above is Alba being tortured by her uncle, Esteban Garcia. In that moment of pain, she escapes her body and remembers her grandmother's notebooks, containing her family's history. Alba's grandmother shows her how to enter the diary--to escape the present by going into the past, and thereby figure out how to deal with the future. The play is about Alba observing and coming to terms with her family's tragedy, which in turn is a Latin American tragedy. I'm from the Caribbean and my family lived under a dictatorship, so I connect to the story. I'm also trying to understand my own parents and grandparents and their history.

Elizabeth Jenkins McFadden, SET DESIGN: This was my first time working with the script, and it was such a godsend to have Jose and Alex involved. The story is nonlinear in an interesting way. That gave me the idea of presenting the whole experience as a series of portraits in time, which led to the ornate picture frames [opposite page] that served as projection surfaces. They're picture-frame moldings and crown moldings, made of wood and foam. One thing that we all agreed on at the start: Everything was a projection surface. We did a straight scrim and a diagonal scrim, made of cheesecloth, which gave it a ghostly and gauzy quality. The theatre walls, scrim panels and stage had text painted on them, reflecting how Alba was the one telling this tale. There were times the characters would step behind the scrim panels and would literally be revealed through the projected and painted text [above]. …

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