Lorca in Denton: Dead Poet’s Green Dress Society?

University of North Texas presents a beautiful dreamer through November 13….

Nilo Cruz's "Lorca in a Green Dress"

In a wise, daring move UNT’s Department of Dance and Theatre offered its drama students the opportunity to mount the non-linear, surreal, sophisticated Lorca In A Green Dress by celebrated Pulitzer-winning playwright Nilo Cruz as a major Fall production. Why wise? Why daring? Wise, two reasons: first, it gives the young artists the chance to fully explore poetic reality onstage, as opposed to traditional, linear, presentational performance. Once they have experienced the creative liberation of enacting magical surrealism, these actors will possess a useful tool to help them inhabit the magic and ‘beyond real’ of any role, in any production, in any setting, at any stage of their careers. Second, Cuban-American playwright Nilo Cruz’s work is revered and respected nation-wide, as powerful, demanding and unique. His work has been developed by some of the finest professional theatre companies across the US, from New York’s Public Theater to South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, from The Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Atlanta’s Alliance to Victory Gardens in Chicago and Miami’s Coconut Grove Playhouse. Knowledgeable Artistic and MFA Program Directors will sit up and take notice when these young artists’ resumes come into view with Cruz’s work in credits. “What can you show me?” casting directors will ask, with a sly twinkle. Daring? Stepping out of conventional time, space and plot performance realities with young artists just learning their craft can be risky. What if they can’t find the magic within the meta-reality? What if they can’t make the work comprehensible to an audience unfamiliar with the sophisticated, convention-breaking genre?

In UNT’s case with Lorca In A Green Dress the risk pays off, both as educational opportunity and work of art. Directed and choreographed by UNT Associate Professor of Latino/a Studies in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures and Cuban native Dr. Teresa Marrero, the production unfolds with poetic lyricism and crisp rhythm reflecting her innate, thorough understanding of the culture, historical era and people portrayed. Mostly cast with sophomores and juniors, the show feels almost as professional as academic. The ease, focus and truthfulness of its acting ensemble and the entrancing visual statements made effortlessly on a multi-level mixed media set (UNT Assistant Professor in Scene Design/Scenography Kenneth John Verdugo) lift the play beyond average collegiate production level. Elements of musical underscore weave throughout, some vocal and instrumental, other recorded, providing a rich, textural background that reinforces the importance of music in Cuban culture and poet Frederico Lorca’s world and enhances the play’s dreamy ambience (sound design by senior Austin Struckmeyer under the guidance of UNT Assistant Professor of Lighting and Sound Design Adam Chamberlin). Key Cuban performance highlights come from guitarist and music/vocal director Ricardo Martinez, seated in audience full view downstage right and the mesmerizing explosiveness of Flamenco dancer/choreographer Fabiana Ovalles. Strong acting performances arise from sophomore Jake McCready as Frederico/Lorca with Blood, who creates a believable, restrained, haunting portrayal of the murdered poet and sophomore Desmond Thomas, playing Lorca in a Green Dress as his heart-breaking feminine side, his tortured inner soul. Overacting and stiff line delivery are kept to a minimum, in spite of the cast’s youth and inexperience; all offer excellent insight into character and maintain the promising professional qualities of a genuine ensemble.

Desmond Thomas, Fabiana Ovalles, Jake McCready: Andrea Breaz photo

In performance through Sunday, Nov 13
Friday and Saturday at 7:30pm

Call: 940-565-2428

University Theatre, RTFP Building
University of North Texas
801 North Texas Blvd.
Denton, TX 76201

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