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UCLA Magazine Spring 2005
From Murphy Hall
Living La Vida 'Lorca'
Stress Fractures
What's at Stake
The Importance of Being Elma
House of Cards
The Quest
Through Women's Eyes
Dynamic Duo
Bruin Walk

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Spring 2005
Living La Vida 'Lorca'

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Fringed shawls and tap shoes
Fringed shawls and tap shoes, worn here by choreographer Mari Sandoval, are part of the women's costumes.

Lorca thought of himself as ugly. He was short and stocky, with dark, wide-set eyes. He always wore his hair combed back. Early in 1936, he finished writing The House of Bernarda Alba, the final play in the trilogy that started with Blood Wedding and Yerma. In August of that year, just after fighting broke out in the Spanish Civil War, Lorca was dragged into a field and shot to death by an anti-Republican firing squad. He was 38.

Physically, Hughes has little in common with the writer he portrays. The singer is a slender 6-foot-4, with a narrow face and high, patrician cheekbones. If it were not for his youthfulness and the soft dark curls that fall over one side of his face, he would appear to have stepped out of the canvas of an El Greco painting. He isn’t worried about the physical portrayal; few in the audience will know what Lorca looked like anyway. It’s the psychological portrayal that’s tricky.

Lorca was a closeted homosexual, obsessed with death, tormented by unfulfilled desire for men and motherhood. There are so many layers to his personality that it’s no wonder that Hughes and Der Hacopian — while he was still in the cast — had a difficult time figuring out how to play him. But Galbán doesn’t expect a nuanced performance. The two baritones are “opera singers, not actors,” she says. What she really wants is that audiences go home with the idea that Lorca valued free expression above all else, no matter how unconventional or shocking its manifestation.

EVERYTHING WE’RE SINGING IS SOME SORT OF SUBTEXT FOR SEX, so keep that in mind. Use your imagination.” About a dozen young women are in Royce Hall rehearsing the washerwoman scene, and Gondek is urging them to vamp it up. The rehearsal room is long and wide, with a mirrored wall on one side and a ballet barre on the other. The girls are in colorful fringed shawls and long skirts that they have dug out of their closets to wear until the costume designer, Carlos Brown (Like Water for Chocolate, A Day Without a Mexican), finishes the gathered skirts and lacy camisoles that they will wear on stage. In the scene they are rehearsing, the women have been scrubbing clothes against rocks on the riverbank but their minds are elsewhere. Prodded by Gondek, the girls get frisky. Junior Karen Vuong hikes up her skirt, raises a bended knee and wiggles her pointed toes. Others toss their hair back playfully. Galbán likes it. Leaning against the barre, she smiles and claps her hands gleefully. “Eso! Eso! (That’s it!).”

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