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Trapped between society and desire: International Theatre Program presents Yerma

November 16, 2015
large group of actors on stage, one being crowned with a bull's head

On Thursday, Dec. 3 the University of Rochester’s International Theatre program will explore one woman’s struggle against the status quo through Federico Garcia Lorca’s famed tragedy, Yerma.

Yerma is one of the pinnacles of Spanish 20th century drama and a must-see for anyone interested in theater,” says Nigel Maister, the Russell and Ruth Peck Artistic Director of Rochester’s International Theatre Program. “It’s exciting to see Lorca’s passionate, intense, and unique dramatic poetry come alive on stage through our students.”

Yerma tells the story of a childless woman living in Spain who must come to terms with her inability to conceive a child. Written in 1934, the play chronicles a time in which women were expected to bear children. Therefore, her inability to fulfill this expectation leads Yerma to a crime with tragic consequences.

Author Lorca has been considered one of Spain’s greatest and most daring poets and playwrights to date. His use of sexuality, raw and passionate poetry and theatrical work, and his lack of political affiliation amid the Spanish Civil War – all of which were considered to be risky behavior – distinguished him from many of his peers. This eventually led to his assassination by Franquist soldiers during the Spanish Civil War. He is remembered, not only for a beloved trilogy of dramas set in rural Spain (of which Bodas de Sangre (Blood Wedding) is probably the most famous), but also for his collections of poetry, notably Romancero gitano (The Gypsy Ballads) and Canciones (Songs).

Yerma is directed by Peruvian director Gisela Cardenas who received a master’s degree in performance studies from New York University, and an M.F.A in directing from Columbia University. She has directed performances such as Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Lorca’s Don Perlimpin in venues around the world, from the United Kingdom to Germany to Peru to Romania. Cardenas has been frequently recognized by the theater community and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Princess Grace Theatre Fellowship in 2007 and the League of Professional Theatre Women’s Josephine Abady Award in 2008.

Set design is created by Arnulfo Maldonado, a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, whose work has been seen across the country and whose recent set designs at the University of Rochester include Venus, The Colonel Bird, and The Hairy Dutchman.

Costume design is by Oana Botez, who was trained at Bucharest Art Academy in Romania and New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and whose work has been seen in over two dozen venues across the globe. Lightning design is by Mike Inwood, whose previous work includes HIR in San Francisco and La Traviata in Boston. He has also worked as the lighting designer for the 2013 Macy’s Holiday Windows at their flagship store in Herald Square in Manhattan. Sound design and original music for the production are by Brendan Connelly, a graduate of Bard College and co-founder of The Theatre of the Two-Headed Calf in New York City.

Yerma runs Thursday, Dec. 3 through Saturday, Dec. 5, and Wednesday, Dec. 9 through Sunday, Dec. 13. Performances will begin at 8 p.m., with the exception of the Saturday, Dec. 12 performance at 6 p.m., and the Sunday matinee, which will begin at 3 p.m. All shows will take place in Todd Theater, located in the Todd Union Building on the UR River Campus. Tickets are $8 for University of Rochester students, $12 for faculty, staff, alumni, and seniors (65+), and $15 for the general public. They can be purchased online at, or by calling 585.275.4088. Tickets may also be purchased at the box office up to an hour before each performance.

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Category: The Arts