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The House of Bernada Alba

The House of Bernada Alba – Yusra Warsama

Creative Visual engagement – Rachel Gadsden

Over five years, my artistic practice mostly has been concerned with creating cross-cultural visual art, digital film and performance projects with Muslim communities in UK, the Levant and Middle East regions; so it was particularly relevant to me to be invited to take part in this contemporary research and development consideration of Lorca’s play The House of Bernada Alba, directed by Yusra Warsama. Women are a focus of my work, so to be given the opportunity to spend time in rehearsals, drawing the female actors ‘getting to grips with’ the complex themes of the play in rehearsal was an inspiration. Emotions here are laid bare, a family of women fight, incarcerated in the stifling prison that is their home –  the tragedy of maternal tyranny, sexual repression and of the devastating mutinous desire.

To have the opportunity to express, artistically, the raw conflict was a thrill, not Spain in 1936, but Manchester in 2017, the stark reality – in one sense, at least! – of contemporary Moss Side. For me it is from this formidable rehearsal experience that I must begin the development of this project: from the live engagement of the performance rehearsal space; and from this to layer primary drawings with photographic self-portraits, digitally rendered to produce portraits expressing contemporary family relationships. The artworks could be projected into the performance space, and exhibited alongside the performance, and could also be exhibited within the urban landscape – a reminder of the timelessness of the need to address and consider family conflict.

This has truly been an exciting project, and I believe that given the opportunity to broaden the vision and ambition of this theatrical project it has the potential to break down societal barriers pertaining to diversity and difference, and to contribute to bringing about cultural change.

My current project “It was Paradise”  considers themes relating to the effects upon individual and community of the sense of isolation and abandonment arising from physical and psychological confinement. The project may creatively engage with a group of London Bangladeshi women, so there are clear linked themes with the Bernada Alba project; and a further linked collaboration I can see as being extremely fortuitous.

Posted by Rachel Gadsden, 07:06am 08/06/17

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