Overwhelming desire at heart of Lorca play

Rehearsals for Yerma at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Directed by Roisin McBrinn. Feb 2011
Rehearsals for Yerma at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Directed by Roisin McBrinn. Feb 2011
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A WOMAN’s overwhelming desire to have the one thing she can’t have – a child – is at the heart of this passionate version of Yerma.

Roisin McBrinn makes her directorial debut, at West Yorkshire Playhouse, with her take on Frederico Lorca’s 1934 play, which is adapted by Ursula Rani Sarma.

Lorca was a prominent poet and theatre director and belonged to the Generacion del 27 group of artists that included Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali.

Just two years after writing Yerma the Spanish Civil War broke out and Lorac was assinated by General Franco’s death squad.

Yerma, played by Kate Stanley-Brennan, is a young woman who wants a baby and yearns to become pregnant. This desire eclipses everything else in her world, with the play focusing on her desperate journey before she commits an act of rebellion which not only seals her unhappy fate but also sets her free.

She marries young to a good man, Juan. But without a child her passionless life becomes unbearable.

Kate said: “At the start of the play Yerma has been married to Juan for two years and nothing has happened. By the end it is five years and her desire for a child has escalated.

“Despite her situation Yerma remains true to Juan, she doesn’t go off with other men and this what I loved about her as a character.

”There are two sides to her – the woman she wants to be – and the good honourable wife with a normal life and no high aspirations.

“But she is different to all the other girls in the village where she was born, she does things and says things – things are out of the ordinary.”

The universal theme of the play could be set in today’s climate but this production has a timeless quality although some scenes have a 1950s feel.

Kate said: “It could be set today. Women will always want to have children it is in them, but a lot of women are going against that at them moment.

”Roisin is exploring the desire that can lead to vulnerability, it is almost a Greek level of performance, it is very complex, in that some one can desire something so much that regrettably it overcomes you.

“I do know what its is to desire something and it not to happen and what that can do to you, and that helps me relate to Yerma. It is an emotionally-demanding role and you can not help being affected by it.”

Yerma is the third in Lorca’s celebrated trilogy, along with Blood Weddings and the House of Bernarda Alba, and is the first of his works to show at the Playhouse.

Yerma runs at West Yorkshire Playhouse from March 5 to March 26. Tickets cost £16-£26, available from www.wyp.org.uk or the box office on 0113 213 7700.