Baruch’s professor Scott directs Bernie West’s newest fall play, Blood Wedding
The folk tragedy is written by Spanish poet and playwright Federico Garcia Lorca who was assassinated a week after accepting a political post during the Spanish Civil War
For the fall production at the Bernie West Theater, Baruch College’s theatrical best gathered to present a production of the Blood Wedding. Written in 1932 by Spanish dramatist Federico Garcia Lorca, Blood Wedding is a tragedy about a society where one either conforms or is destined to be destroyed by this society. Directed by Baruch’s own Christopher Scott, this production aims at preserving Lorca’s original text and message. “The language is so poetic and so beautiful, that I did not want to impose anything and just let the text do its own work,” said Scott.
This particular production is important to Scott. He explained that he always chooses plays that are personal to him. Lorca was a homosexual man who was eventually executed during the Spanish Civil War. Lorca’s struggles are familiar to the director. Another reason Scott chose this play was because Lorca was a Spanish writer. “I wanted to utilize somebody who has not written in English. We tend to forget that there are other playwrights other than [the] American or British,” said Scott. Blood Wedding is about an upcoming village wedding between the bride, played by Jenna Smith, and the groom, played by Zach Mellado, and how it is interrupted by the bride’s past with another man Leonardo, played by Thomas Anderson.
Every character possesses a multi-dimensional essence, making these roles a real challenge for the actors. “Initially, I thought I [had] nothing in common with the groom,” said Mellado, who also added that this role was the biggest struggle of his career. He continues, “But I thought a lot about it, and decided to turn every negative thing about the character into [a] positive. You cannot create from a place of hate.” For Smith, this was also her hardest role yet. “This is not a character you can just get into. It requires a lot of focus and it is very emotional,” she said. For some, their role is more of a physical challenge. Rosie Liu played the wife of Leonardo. “I am pregnant in the show and I try to wear the pregnant belly even outside of rehearsals, so I can get used to it. The difficult thing is that, besides playing the character and her desperation for the husband, I have to remember about the mood swings, and that I have to walk in a certain way. But it makes the character more interesting to play,” she said.
There are no small roles, only small actors. This saying perfectly matches this production because all of its characters are very prominent, no matter how big the part is. Nayla Moon plays the neighbor, a role that is representative of society in general. “She is a town gossip,” said Moon. “She is a catalyst to many events, showing how important society is to one’s actions. The neighbor is supposed to change drastically by the end of the play,” she added. This drastic change is a symbol for progressivism, which unfortunately, often occurs when it is too late. Lorca is a big fan of symbolism. There is a character named Death played by Nicholas Matthews. Matthew explains his character saying, “he is an equalizer because no matter who you are in society, everybody is equal to death.” Opposite of Death is Moon, portrayed by Melanie DiPalma. “I would say that my character is very androgynous. She is a representation of Lorca’s own sexuality.”
Lorca wanted to express his own struggles by focusing on gender roles and duties, especially that of a woman. Eileen Makak plays the mother of the groom—the character who struggles the most because of her matriarchal role. “She is the mother of the world created in this little village. She is not just the matriarch, but due to the death of her husband and elder son, she has to be the father figure to her only son. It is tough because she has to encompass the motherly duty and embody the fatherly dominance and its tough. There is a lot of pressure,” Makak said. On the bride’s side, the father, played by Jose Ayala, is not really the prominent patriarch.
The bride is raised by the maid, who is played by Leslie Nicole Ivery. “She is fun,” said Ivery in excitement. “She is a server, but she is very dynamic and independent. She is very sexual and flirtatious and has a larger than life persona. She is a very progressive character: there is a gap between men and women at that time, but she fights her own beliefs without a moment of hesitation. And she loves the bride very much,” she added. The beauty of the production is that there is a great mix of experienced students with newcomers. Some people in the cast have already done multiple productions in their lives. Billy Zhu, who plays the “Boy,” is doing his first show. “At first I was overwhelmed because others already have a lot of experience. But everybody is very nice and supportive,” he said.
There is a strong sense of community for the actors. As Makak pointed out, “This cast has got personality.” When asked about their experience working with Scott, there is unanimous and universal acclaim. Scott receives the appraisal that even most well-known directors can only dream of. “Unlike other directors, he doesn’t tell you what to do,” said Smith. “He lets you do anything and see if it works. He does not invade your artistic space.” “He has been my mentor and I am thankful to him for everything,” Melado added, explaining that he has a special relationship with Director Scott. “He noticed me when I was a baseball player and gave me a chance to try acting. He believed in me and now I minor in Theater.”
The way the actors talk about their director is not just heartwarming—it is inspiring. The idea of not fitting into the community that is being brought in the play is something that all actors and crew can relate to in one particular instance. Baruch is a commuter school with a very strong reputation of being business-oriented. Therefore, when talking about art and theater, there is often backlash or a lack of support from the student population and administration. Scott, however, stays optimistic. “It is frustrating,” he said, “but it has gone progressively better. We have a lot of untapped talent and we have been very fortunate, especially for this production, to find some great gems.”
Most of the cast members major in business-related courses like corporate communications and finance, but everybody supports the theater program and the initiatives being introduced at Baruch. Jamie Daniele, who plays the mother-in-law, sums up the sentiment in the best possible way: “We live in New York City. It’s the epicenter of art. Why not?”
Blood Wedding begins running on Nov. 15 at the Bernie West Theater.