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Photos: THE DARK STONE Opens At Repertorio Español

The play will run through October 2 at Repertorio Español.

Photos: THE DARK STONE Opens At Repertorio Español

AENY - Spanish Artists in New York (Artistic Director Ignacio García-Bustelo) presented the New York premiere of Alberto Conejero's The Dark Stone, a pulsing story of difference and connection set against the turmoil of Spain's Civil War (Through October 2 at Repertorio Español, 138 E 27th St; in English with Spanish subtitles). Photos of this stirring immersive production below.

In this new production of Conejero's internationally acclaimed two-character drama, director Ignacio García-Bustelo casts a Ukrainian actor and a Belarusian actor in the play's irreconcilable roles of captive and captor, Nationalist and Republican-and asks how and whether transcendence might occur between them. Can circumstances lead us to see each other's humanity across such fortified divides and uneven power dynamics? As Conejero narrows the chasm between "enemy forces" by placing them face-to-face, in isolation, García-Bustelo's production, in the powerful suggestion behind its casting, reframes history in the present.

Explains García-Bustelo, "The struggle that took place in Spain almost a hundred years ago during the Civil War is taking place before our very eyes between the nations of Ukraine and Russia. The scenery changes; the conflicts, the violence, the turmoil, in essence (and sadly), remain the same. Rather than producing this play as an archeological piece pertaining only to a certain time in history, we feel strongly that this work provides the opportunity to examine universal themes about the human condition in a time of conflict. In doing so, theater remains relevant, for it speaks to us about our current and immediate circumstances, and provides a place for dialogue with our audience."

The Dark Stone centers on Rafael (Zenon Zeleniuch), a Republican who has been made prisoner by the Nationalists; Sebastián (Andrew KoGolenok), the young guard in his charge, becomes his only company. They reveal secrets over the course of a single night, fighting against a daylight that will bring renewed horror and uncertainty; they are both unaware that their encounter will change the course of the war, and theater. The Dark Stone is a play about intolerance and memory as a means of justice, and about the small intimacies that can be found even amid atrocity.

The Dark Stone is inspired by the real story of Rafael Rodriguez Rapún-secretary of the La Barraca University Theater and friend and lover of Federico García Lorca in the years leading up to their respective tragic deaths. (Rapún died in a military hospital a year after Lorca was assassinated). Conejero's vision of Rapún's imagined captivity, and the urgency of his character's need to protect memory as he faces mortality, is a work of fiction-but informed by rigorous research. Conejero writes in an author's note, "It was my privilege to be lavished with assistance from members of Rafael's family, principal among these his brother Tomás, who in Madrid in the spring and summer of 2012 shared with me, at the age of ninety-five, hours of memories and mementoes of their relationship. This work is dedicated to his generosity, good cheer, and high-flying spirit."

While evoking contemporary conflict in its casting choices and minimalist, universalizing production elements, the production simultaneously represents a celebration of Federico García Lorca in New York, a city that radically shaped his artistry and worldview while he attended Columbia University. As the play comes to surround Rapún's relationship to Lorca, and the preservation of Lorca's societally invaluable texts, the figure of Lorca emerges in absentia, in a contemplation of theater's remarkable ability to keep the past alive as a persistent reflection of the present.

The production, the first ever of a work by Alberto Conejero in New York, is also a striking introduction for New York audiences to one of Spain's most celebrated contemporary playwrights (and Director of the Festival de Otoño in Madrid). His work toys with collective and individual memory-what we choose to bring forward and leave behind when the unthinkable occurs.

In García-Bustelo's production, characters' interior worlds are magnified with live-feed video, combined with projection design (by Laia Cabrera and Isabelle Duverger) and mapping that creates an intimate focus on the performances and the aching human experiences Conejero's play depicts-both of conflict and reconciliation. García-Bustelo describes the set (by Leni Méndez) as "minimalist; the ruins of a room after a bombing or a natural disaster, or that particular space in our brains after a personal loss, when all is disintegrating in our memories."

The Dark Stone premiered at the National Theatre in Madrid in 2015, and received the most prestigious accolades in Spain, including the 2015 Premio Ceres for Best Author, and the top five categories of the 2016 Premio Max Awards, including Best Playwright, Best Director, and Best Production; Alberto Conejero was also a finalist for the Valle-Inclán de Teatro Award. Since, The Dark Stone has been produced internationally in the United Kingdom, Chile, Mexico, Uruguay, Colombia, Paraguay, Argentina, Peru, and Russia.

The AENY production's cast is Zenon Zeleniuch (Rafael) and Andrew KoGolenok (Sebastián). The creative team features Ignacio García-Bustelo (Director), Valeria Llaneza (Assistant Director), Leni Méndez (Set & Costume Design), Laia Cabrera and Isabelle Duverger (Projections Design), Bruce A! Kraemer (Lighting Design), and David Lawson (Sound Design).

Performance Schedule and Ticketing Information

Performances run through October 2 only; September 30 & October 1 at 8pm, and at 3pm October 2.

Tickets from $25 at repertorio.nyc/thedarkstone

Photo Credit: Ignacio Garcia-B

Photos: THE DARK STONE Opens At Repertorio Español
Zenon Zeleniuch (Rafael) and Andrew KoGolenok (Sebasti n) in THE DARK STONE by Alberto Conejero at Repertorio Espa ol. Produced by AENY - Spanish Artists in New York.

Photos: THE DARK STONE Opens At Repertorio Español
Zenon Zeleniuch (Rafael) and Andrew KoGolenok (Sebasti n) in THE DARK STONE by Alberto Conejero at Repertorio Espa ol. Produced by AENY - Spanish Artists in New York. Photo by Ignacio Garcia-B

Photos: THE DARK STONE Opens At Repertorio Español
Andrew KoGolenok (Sebasti n) in THE DARK STONE by Alberto Conejero at Repertorio Espa ol. Produced by AENY - Spanish Artists in New York. Photo by Ignacio Garcia-Bustelo.

Photos: THE DARK STONE Opens At Repertorio Español
Andrew KoGolenok (Sebasti n) in THE DARK STONE by Alberto Conejero at Repertorio Espa ol. Produced by AENY - Spanish Artists in New York. Photo by Ignacio Garcia-Bustelo.

Photos: THE DARK STONE Opens At Repertorio Español
Andrew KoGolenok (Sebasti n) and Zenon Zeleniuch (Rafael) in THE DARK STONE by Alberto Conejero at Repertorio Espa ol. Produced by AENY - Spanish Artists in New York. Photo by Ignacio Garcia-B

Photos: THE DARK STONE Opens At Repertorio Español
Andrew KoGolenok (Sebasti n) and Zenon Zeleniuch (Rafael) in THE DARK STONE by Alberto Conejero at Repertorio Espa ol. Produced by AENY - Spanish Artists in New York. Photo by Michael Palma Mi

Photos: THE DARK STONE Opens At Repertorio Español
Andrew KoGolenok (Sebasti n) in THE DARK STONE by Alberto Conejero at Repertorio Espa ol. Produced by AENY - Spanish Artists in New York. Photo by Michael Palma Mir.

Photos: THE DARK STONE Opens At Repertorio Español
Zenon Zeleniuch (Rafael) in THE DARK STONE by Alberto Conejero at Repertorio Espa ol. Produced by AENY - Spanish Artists in New York. Photo by Michael Palma Mir.


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