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El patio de Federico

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by Erin Hannon

To conclude Women’s History Month, the Modern Languages Department hosted the annual Spanish Poetry Recital. This year’s poetry recital featured multiple poems and a small one-act play by poet Federico García Lorca. The recital was in Spanish and performed by current and past Spanish students and native Spanish speakers. Dr. Bañuelos Montes and Dr. Gómez-Navarro were instrumental in making this event a success.

García Lorca is a Spanish writer from Spain who was assassinated at the beginning of Spanish Civil War. “He is a symbol of fighting for freedom of thought and creation, and his work brought culture to unfavorable people in his society and gave a voice to women”, said Gómez-Navarro.

As Bañuelos Montes says, “women [in his writing] portray the perpetuation of social conventions…and [are] a dominant presence”.

As the audience entered the ballroom, they saw the stage that depicted a patio. The tables that made part of the “patio” had champagne coupes, wine bottles, and vases filled with flowers. The guitarist, Bill, strummed his guitar as the audience found their seats.

Suddenly, the performers were given their signal and in came a stream of women, wearing dresses, animatedly talking to themselves. Behind them, another group of women, wearing all black, came in doing the same. Two men followed behind the women, stoic with their chest puffed up.

And in the midst of all this commotion, you could see a much taller woman, in a black and red flamenco dress, weaving her way through the groups, shouting, laughing, and showing camaraderie. As the groups sat down and this woman, Ada Lis Jimena, took her place center stage, the audience could see that this beginning act the patio was meant to draw their attention. This was achieved as the audience became “active participants reacting to feelings and emotions, thoughts, and ideas transmitted by the performance” said Bañuelos Montes.

The first half of the recital was energetic, with the men reciting poetry about willing to die for love and the women waxing poetically about the beauty and mystery of love. The middle of the recital was the one-act play, part of  “La casa de Bernarda Alba,”  which became the transition point of the recital. This act, played by the women in black, portrayed grief, and the next poems were more serious and full of tragedy, as the two men die in a duel.

In between poems, Ada performed songs by García Lorca. These songs, accompanied by Bill, were traditional Spanish songs that were “revived into popularity [by García Lorca ](and still taught today in Spanish schools),” said Gómez-Navarro.

The goal was to use the music and dramatization of the lyrics to provide context to the poems. Bañuelos Montes adds, “Both William and Ada were extremely instrumental in making the audience react and connect with the recital and play performances throughout the event”.

The recital ended with both the men dying in duel, while the moon sheds light into the conflict between the two.

After applause, the audience was invited to eat some traditional Spanish appetizers, such as jamon with cheeses and albondigas , drink non-alcoholic sangria, and eat arroz con leche.

In general, Bañuelos Montes and Gómez-Navarro hoped that the audience understood the passion of Lorca or were able to relate to some of the experiences told through the performances.

However, Chico Bonilla, a freshman in the audience, had a different take. “Programs like this allow for American students to experience Spanish in a different culture than they would see in today’s media.”