The House of Bernarda Alba
The National theatre
Choose one production that you have seen and which you particularly
enjoyed and discuss the aspects which made it so successful?
The House of Bernarda Alba is a tragedy by Lorca which was set in
Spain in the early 1930’s during the Spanish civil war and is about
five daughters whose life’s resolve around their mother Bernarda Alba.
The girls are repressed by there mother which could be why he wrote
this play, to express his feelings and show through the characters how
he felt during life as he was repressed for being gay “better never to
lay eyes on a man, never to have seen one’.
I enjoyed ‘The House of Bernarda Alba’ as many aspects of the play
There was a large, complicated realistic set like Stanislavski would
use with period costumes and props which allowed the audience to see
it visually which helped believability in the play as it contributed
to the realistic acting. It helped you feel like you were in Spain, as
a hot climate was suggested through the set; it was exotic, light and
Spanish looking. The props gave a sense of the period the play was set
for example the radio, the bell, the wash basin and the sewing
machines were all authentic.
The set was in Bernarda Alba’s house which was a grand mansion with a
gilt, lofty ceiling. I think the towering interior clearly represented
the distorted mind of Bernarda Alba. The house was a very open, free
place for the girls to roam around in. It had a courtyard in the
centre, light green walls making it seem larger and many plants,
showing the outside was brought inside. I felt this was a success as
the set showed how Bernarda Alba didn’t want the girls to leave the
house as there were closed shutters down to the floor; this showed the
girls were isolated from the outside world. The set designer has
evidently striven to create a physical space which represented
There were four stone pillars which I feel could have represented four
of the daughters and the last daughter was represented by the drain
shaped as a cross on the courtyard, which showed she died. I also felt
that the pillars were successful as they might signify the house is
like a prison for the girls, and they are the bars. There were two
stained glass windows one which was broken which gave a sense that
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controlling by her strict tone of voice. It was successful the way
the director showed the girls as fearful of the mother. Every time
someone would stroll in the room they would jump as they thought it
was their mother and if their mother did come in they would sit down
immediately and sit in silence sewing. If their mother asked them a
question you would hear a fearful tremble in their voice as they
replied showing they lived in fear of their mother. Another way in
which the actors of the girls were effective is the way they reacted
to men. The only men the girls would ever see apart from their father,
was the man who delivers the fabric. So in the play when Pepe came to
the door all the girls would get excited and start jumpy around
screaming as they ran out the door.
I feel this play was generally a very successful piece of realistic
drama because of the set, costumes, lighting and the acting. It had a
detailed set and several strong actors which helped bring the play to
life as well as real rain at the end to create a dramatic effect. Long
silences were used in the play to produce tension and it used comedy
and tragedy to engage the audience.