Arts > Immaculate misconceptions

01 September 2016 | by Mark Lawson

Immaculate misconceptions


Australian writer-director Simon Stone’s trademark is updating classic plays to have the feel of a contemporary police procedural. His translation of Ibsen’s The Wild Duck to present-day Australia was seen at the Barbican in 2014, and has recently been released as a movie, starring Geoffrey Rush, called The Daughter.

Although Stone’s preferred source material is Scandinavian (having also reworked Strindberg’s Miss Julie), he has turned to the Spanish archive for a reinterpretation of Federico García Lorca’s Yerma.

Lorca’s most-seen theatrical work is Blood Wedding, and this play from 1933 is a sort of accidental thematic sequel that might be titled “Blood Motherhood”. Yerma literally translates as “barren”, the derogatory term hurled at Lorca’s tragic heroine, whose failure to bear her husband a child becomes a source of shame and superstition in rural, Catholic Spain.
Time-travelled classics work if the original situation either remains recognisable or has taken on an interesting new resonance.


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