Closed for 600 days, Signature reopens with ‘Rent’

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Doña Rosita la soltera
Until October 3
Hispanic Theater GALA
3333 14th Street, NO
$ 35 to $ 48
galatheatre.org

In the 1930s, Federico García Lorca, the greatest Spanish poet and playwright of the 20th century, wrote plays on the place of women in the world. In fact, Lorca, who was gay, explored the souls of women in a way unprecedented for Spain, or anywhere really. His insight is often attributed, in part, to his sexuality.

Now at the GALA Hispanic Theater, Lorca’s “Doña Rosita la soltera (Doña Rosita the Old Maid)” tells the story of Rosita, a single woman who has hopes of marrying a fiance from afar. Whether it’s to keep the populace at bay or to nurture a romantic fantasy, it’s not entirely clear, but the years – decades, in fact – go by and very little change.

Set in the conservative middle-class world of Granada (the home province of Lorca), the 100-minute play, performed in Spanish with English surtitles, covers the 1880s to the early 1900s, years of hardship for women. in Spain. When Lorca wrote “Doña Rosita” in 1935, on the eve of the Spanish Civil War, he appreciated recent advances in women’s rights and foresaw further imminent progress. Then, just a year later, at age 38 and at the peak of his art, Lorca was illegally arrested and murdered by Franco’s right-wing thugs. Everything was lost.

Adapted by our writer Nando López, GALA’s offering deviates from Lorca’s original in a number of ways: there are fewer characters and the older Rosita serves more as a narrator, interacting with herself at a younger age. Lorca’s glorious poetry remains largely intact.

Still, the story of the main character is clear: orphan as a child, Rosita (Mabel del Pozo) goes to live with her devoted aunt (Luz Nicolás) and her uncle (Ariel Texidó), a passionate gardener. As a young woman, she falls in love with her first cousin (also played by Texidó), and they are engaged. Although the groom left Spain to join his aging parents at their farm in Tucumán, Argentina, the young lovers remain engaged.

Domestic life continues. With the support of her loved ones and the family’s devoted but skeptical housekeeper (Laura Alemán), Rosita assembles a first-rate trousseau and the engaged couples continue to exchange heartfelt letters. At one point, there is talk of proxy marriage – an idea scorned by some household members and neighbors.

The similarity of the unchanging household is offset by the dynamic staging of our director José Luis Arellano, an excellent cast, with actors skillfully changing characters on stage using hats or ties taken out of a dresser. , vibrant lighting by Jesús Díaz Cortés, and stage music by David Peralto and Alberto Granados. Alemán, as good as the shrewd housekeeper of the country (a place respected by Lorca) also tries an old maid who comes for tea. And Catherine Nunez characterizes the female youth, scornful of Rosita’s single status. Delbis Cardona is versatile as a worker and Don Martin a teacher tasked with educating the ungrateful offspring of the wealthy in Granada.

After a rare outdoor excursion to the circus, Rosita falsely claims to have seen her future groom working with the troupe, but the housekeeper is quick to point out that the well-built puppeteer is by no means her barefoot shoulder-length fiancé. stooped, adding that more and more Rosita sees her distant love facing the men of Granada. Quickly, the aunt reminds the housekeeper to know her place – she has the right to speak, but not to bark.

Visually, the passage of time is indicated by the hem and cut of Rosita’s dresses (designed by Silvia de Marta), and the dismantling of the mid-point ensemble (also by Marta), opening up the bedrooms and the garden from the family to what lies beyond.

After the intermission, six more years have passed and the narrative is simpler and obviously convincing. Rosita’s aunt, now an edgy and generally miserable widow in reduced circumstances, packs her bags to move out. It was hard to run a house, she says. And it’s harder to scrub the floors, answers the faithful housekeeper.

And here is where del Pozo shines with Rosita’s revealing monologue, a strikingly truthful and passionately delivered speech that is worth the price of a ticket.

“Doña Rosita” marks a collaborative reunion of three Spaniards – writer López, director Arellano and actor del Pozo – who all worked on the production of GALA 2015, several times awarded the Helen Hayes Award, of the ” Lorca’s politically controversial Yerma, the story of another complicated Spanish woman.

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