Lorca’s Mission


At heart Lorca was a Surrealist. Literally translated the term means ‘over-reality’ and Surrealists tried to go beyond boring everyday depictions of the world and capture something deeper, truer and more real about life. They did this by releasing the power of their imaginations and their unconscious minds. As a result Surrealist art, for example the paintings of Salvador Dali, can seem bizarre and incomprehensible but there is meant to be a deeper message in these works that reveal truths about human nature and life; truths that could not be adequately caught by straight-forward paintings or plays.


However, more importantly, Lorca was a man of the people. Coming from a poor Spanish village himself, what he wanted most of all was to be understood by the everyday Spaniard: the people sitting in the cheapest wooden seats or living in the smallest Andalusian villages. As such he sacrificed the Surrealism of his earlier plays because it was something that the masses would never understand and instead he made everyday people his protagonists. He brought them on to the stage and talked about their problems, their hopes and their struggles with the powerful. In a sense he was developing a political consciousness.


‘The House of Bernard Alba’ premiered in Beunos Aires, Argentina, 9 years after the poet’s murder. The premier was in Latin America because, as a radical, Lorca’s work had been outlawed in his home country of Spain. This play is the culmination of Lorca’s attempts to reach out to the Spanish people and, although there are still elements of Surrealism, the author’s intent to achieve a ‘photographic documentary’ and to avoid an overly ‘poetic’ interpretation that would detract from the recognition of the repressive forces depicted in the play, is evident.


Lorca wanted to write about a recognizable society, about the overwhelming power of money, about sacrifice of the inner self to outward appearances, and about the imprisonment of living beings within the most wretched aspects of Catholic morality. He wanted to reveal the differences between the world as it is presented by those in power and this same world as it is suffered by Bernarda’s daughters. Audiences of all times find references in The House of Bernarda Alba and the issues of the conflict between order and liberty, between rules and personal freedom or the relationship between the individual and their society are as relevant today as they ever were.


In short, Lorca wanted to portray the pursuit of a utopia where the social being and the individual being are in harmony; a world in which, not only would Adela not die, but in which her very existence would be incomprehensible. Lorca was speaking of these things very shortly before fascism – Bernarda – murdered him under the olive trees at Fuente Grande.


Adapted from an article by Jose Monleon