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The House of Bernarda Alba was written in 1936, just two months before Lorca was violently murdered at the hands of the Fascist regime.  Within the play, is a veiled commentary on the dangers of dictatorship and intolerance.   Using the family setting of the tyrannical Bernarda Alba, who rules over her household of five daughters with an iron fist, Lorca makes the argument that repression of nature inevitably leads to tragedy.   

 These themes, although not so apparent in the highly tolerant Spain of today, are still visible throughout the world.  For example, China’s one child policy, and the preference of male children in areas where women are still oppressed have led to a distortion of nature as violent crime, sexual violence, bride trafficking and female suicide rates soar.  The bigger the disparity (occasionally the ratio of males to females is as high as 200:100) the higher the crime rate.  Likewise, five sisters stuck at home with no rights, no jobs, no husbands and no children could wind up at each other’s throats in the fight over a man.

 Equally important are the reasons for the oppression.  Bernarda uses righteousness and responsibility as excuses for her cruelty, but these mask other deeper, and more selfish reasons for her actions.  Magdalena, the illegitimate daughter, must never be allowed to marry before Angustias, and therefore, all of the daughters must wait.  Ultimately, her final words in the play reveal the depths of her pride, as the opinion of others are shown to be more important even than the life of her daughters.  We have incorporated three of Lorca’s poems to highlight these themes and bring out the lyricism of the text.


In order to represent the political themes of the play and maintain its relevance today, I chose to set the play in the Middle East, where young women are forced to stay home and to cover themselves when they leave the house.  Throughout the play, the juxtaposition between their private lives inside the "house", where the girls were able to wear makeup and take down their hair, versus the repressive outer world (as seen through the tyranny of the dominant mother figure Bernarda Alba) reflected the tyranny of the Fascist regime in which Lorca lived and the current oppression of women in the Middle East.  The girls' desire for freedom was mirrored by political images, such as the women protesting in Egypt during the Arab Spring. In one particularly harsh sequence, Bernarda caught her daughters clandestinely smoking cigarettes, listening to Western music and drinking coca cola.  They were viciously flogged while horrific images of women being stoned to death, flogged and acid violence were projected on the set. 

 I chose to create a presence of the men during the poetry sequences in the play. They gathered in the square in front of the house,and occasionally tried to catch glimpses of, or even meet the daughters through open windows in the middle of the night.