Described as tragedy in three acts and seven scenes, Blood Wedding is, of course, a theatrical classic. Now; plays are intended to be seen as they’re performed on stage. But, having had some small experience of playwriting and being a novelist and short story writer by nature, I enjoy the challenge of setting such works within the landscape of my own imagination.
This is a work from a culture that’s alien to me and that makes it all the more challenging. It also tests its credentials as a renowned classic. If I can glean the essence of the piece simply by reading it from the page, then it clearly deserves its literary reputation.
So, a tragedy: of that there can be no doubt. A sad and sorry tale of love distorted by tribal and cultural considerations that defy comprehension in a modern mind, this story reveals the ultimate stupidity that supports certain primitive codes of honour. Religion is rarely mentioned in the text, but it sweeps through the work like a mudslide invading a village. Passion drives much of the play, directing the characters and forcing them to make decisions that a moment’s quiet contemplation would quickly countermand.
Various devices are employed to illuminate the tale. The ubiquitous horse clearly has a significance that largely escaped me during the reading. Though, I suppose, it might be a metaphor for a certain type of power, or it may have the sexual connotations of the dream. I don’t have the advantage of the study notes that would undoubtedly explain the play through the eyes of some scholars, and I prefer my ignorance to the pretentions of such critics.
There are large passages of poetry expressed as song and these are relatively repetitious and often obscure. Such references carry more meaning for the intended local audience, no doubt. The simmering sexual tension swells through these passages, evoking those stirrings of passion often experienced by most of us in our youth. That it is here applied to more mature individuals increases the feeling that we are witnessing a primitive society.
Whilst there were elements of the text that bypassed my conscious understanding, the play as a whole found its way into my heart and soul so that I felt the emotions and discovered I had empathy with the protagonists. The inevitability of the denouement did nothing to decrease its utterly senseless tragedy.
I can only hope that the people for whom this was, presumably, written would leave the theatre in a state that would encourage them to examine the traditions and customs by which they lived. Otherwise, the tragedy is destined to be repeated ad infinitum.
Would I attend a stage performance if it were to come my way? Yes.