Explain the significance of the opening scene and as a director explain what impact you would like the scene to have on the audience and how you would achieve this. The play ‘The House of Bernarda Alba’ is written by Frederico Garcia Lorca. In the opening scene the playwright uses many different techniques to create a dramatic effect for the audience. I have been asked to explain the impact I would like to create as a director and how I would achieve this.
As a director I would want to create an important image straight from the beginning of the play, which I feel Frederico Garcia Lorca achieved extremely well. He created a simple picture however a very memorable one. Almost like a clinic and too clean is the impression the audience first get as the curtains pull up with the “very white room”. This lets the audience know how obsessed Bernarda is with appearance and control. It also tells us how Bernarda feels the need to impress her neighbours constantly as she always wants to be the best and to control her daughters. The “thick walls” of the room the audience see gives the impression that the room is almost like a prison and caved in. Again, adding to the idea of Bernarda controlling and keeping her daughters inside away from any men.
Another part of Bernarda, which I feel is important to emphasise to the audience, is her constant need to be above everyone else and how highly she thinks of herself. The audience may almost feel intimidated by the “arched doorways” as it shows how high class Bernarda is. At this point the audience would be under a great deal of tension and pressure due to the overall silence. This period of the play where no acting takes place gives the audience time to think about the image the playwright has created and almost feel the hot temperature of Spain. As a director, this is the exact effect I would want the audience to experience. The “black” on the jute curtains also adds to the overall negativity the audience already feel. So again, building and building the tension.
The Maid enters. She is going mad with the sound of those “tolling bells” which gives the impression that this part of Spain is sacred and religious. The sound also adds to the tension as it is a loud, bold sound and the audience feel as if the must not make a single sound or movement. Poncia then enters eating bread and a sausage. I think she would enter with movement different than how she would walk if Bernarda was there. She entered freely and without a care because there was nobody to give her into trouble for slouching or scuffing her feet. Poncia and the Maid then speak about Magdelena fainting and speak about her like she is pathetic and going to be alone now because her father was the only one she had. “She’s the one who’s going to be the loneliest”, the Maid says with a tone that suggests she doesn’t care about Magdelena.
The two cleaners then begin to steal food from the cupboards of Bernardas house. “If Bernarda should see you” tells us that they are forbidden to do this and are being sneaky as they know Bernarda will not be worrying about food, only the funeral. The tone used by the Maid suggests how shocked and disguisted she was at Poncia stealing. Frederico Garcia Lorca added humor to this part of the scene as they were stealing from a widow. The movement they would make would be quiet and sly however the tone the use in their voice suggests they don’t feel bad about what they are doing, just scared to get caught.
The audience would feel a ease now, in contrast from the tension the felt at the beginning. We are then made aware of the feelings the Maid and Poncia have towards Bernarda. “She’s coming! Scrub everything clean. If Bernarda doesn’t see things shine, she’ll pull out the few hairs I have left!” emphasises that Poncia thinks she is an evil woman and she is terrified of her. “But I’m a good dog” tells us she knows her place and will do as she is told so she doesn’t upset Bernarda. Fredrico Garcia Lorca has created quite a humorous scene as some of the things the cleaners say about Bernarda is funny. “Spit at her for a whole year” Poncia says to emphasise her hatred towards the woman. Poncia would have a very spiteful tone here.
When the mourners enter the room when they return from the funeral we meet Bernarda for the first time. Two hundred mourners enter, all woman. This suggests that all the ladies liked Bernarda’s husband. Bernarda enters, leaning on a cane and there is a silence which creates tension and intimidation. Bernarda’s posture suggested she was ‘the boss’ as she stood tall and held her head high. Every single person is in black so there is a contrast between the white room. Black also carries the extremely negative connotations. The first thing she says is “Silence!” to the Maid. This reinforces the sense of authority and control as she spoke with loud volume and a patronising tone. Also as the maid was on the floor and Bernarda was standing, status was a clear image. She dominates the stage and then leads the prayers.
Frederico Garcia Lorca created a contrast between the previous scene as is was slightly more laid back. The playwright caused the audience to be scared and worried about what Bernarda will so or say next. The next part of the scene which I consider to be important is when Bernarda asks Adela for a fan. Adela hands her Mother a coloured fan. This is the first mention of any colour so suggests Adela’s character is bold and ‘out there’. Bernarda is appauled at this and says “Give me a black one and learn to respect your Father’s memory!”. At this moment the Playwright wanted the audience to feel tense and shocked about how horrible the character of Bernarda is. He achieved this extremely well. To conclue, I feel that Frederico Garcia Lorca used techiniques to create tension in the audience. He achieved this well through good use of voice and movement. The audience were constantly thinking about what Bernarda will say and this is what he wanted to achieve.