STAGE TUBE: THE HOUSE OF BERNARDA ALBA from Actors Bridge and Belmont University

By: Feb. 15, 2012

Vali Forrister retuns to the stage for the first time since her 2006 triumph in How I Learned to Drive to lead the cast of Actors Bridge Ensemble and the Belmont University Department of Theatre and Dance's production of Frederico Garcia Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba.

Jessika Malone, artistic associate at ABE, directs the cast of Emily Mann's adaptation of Lorca's work which has been described as "a cross between Downton Abbey and The Bachelor with an added splash of Mommie Dearest."

Opening, Friday, February 17, and running through February 26, The House of Bernarda Alba plays Belmont University's Troutt Theatre at 2100 Belmont Boulevard. General admission tickets are $18, with tickets for seniors at $12.

As the play opens, Bernarda Alba, a power-weilding matriarch (played by Forrister, who also doubles as Actors Bridge producing artistic director), decrees an eight-year period of mourning upon her five adult daughters forbidding them even the smallest freedoms. When secret loves are harbored, things begin to spin out of Bernarda's control and she strives to tighten her grip with disastrous results. The servants, led by Poncia (played by Rachel Agee), watch the secrets unfolding and try to warn Bernarda of impending doom for the house and the family name. 

Exploring the themes of jealousy, passion, control, tradition, as well as the economics of marriage, the play is considered to be the greatest of Lorca's work (the last he completed before his murder by fascists in the Spanish Civil War) and a classic of the modern theatre. Lorca is often referred to as the "Shakespeare of the Latin world."

Of Mann's adaptation, The New York Times wrote: "The fury and sweep of Ms. Mann's amazing production of Federico Garcia Lorca's amazing play...can knock down the walls and shake the earth." 

Malone's cast includes Vali Forrister, Rachel Agee, Kelly Lapczynski, Diana Holland, Adrienne Hall, Kyla Lowder, Hanna Walters, Gina D'Arco, Natalie Thompson, Grace Kelly Mason, Rose Eichhorn, Lauren Knoop, Casey Flyth, Meredith Locke and Jolinda Beck.

The productions design team includes costume designer Jessica Mueller, set designer Paul Gattrell (who joins Forrister as producer of the show), lighting designer Mitch Massaro, puppet designer Matt Sandbank, choreography Rebekah Hampton and sound designer Rebekah Reimer (who also serves as assistant director. Stage manager is Adam Ellis, assisted by Caroline Barnard, and Luke Hatmaker serves as master puppeteer.

Photos by Rick King, RIK Photography