FemUn Newsletter Fall 2008 28.2

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Fall 2008 28.1

On the cover
El local de Bernadeta A. (1995) by Lourdes Ortiz (b. 1942)

  • Photos by Jean-Pierre Montagné
  • Performed by the company Les Anachroniques, in Toulouse, France, May of 2008.
  • Set designs by Matthieu Pouget.

Lourdes Ortiz (1942- ) is probably best known as a novelist, but the author has also
written a considerable number of theatre pieces since 1980. A professor of art history at
the Real Escuela Superior de Arte Dramático (RESAD) until her retirement in 2004, her
emphasis on the visual is intuitive and forceful. El local de Bernadeta A. (1995) has
grotesque, esperpentic, and tragic components as García Lorca's La casa de Bernarda
Alba shifts from the repressed daughters of an obsessive sixty-year-old mother, to a
brothel where Bernadeta serves as Madame to her "family" of prostitutes: Gus, Marti,
Magda, Melia, Adelita, and their housekeeper Poncina. The source of Ortiz's play is clear.
Romanito is an abusive, aging pimp who forces the sexual favors of only the pubescent
newcomers. The difference in this drama is that the women emancipate themselves after
the murder of Romanito, organizing their work into a formal business partnership with
equality—and work benefits.

While in the photo pictured here the set design does not include the important "Versión
casi naturalista, pero fría y dura, de Les demoiselles de Aviñon", the characters's makeup
expresses the façade of their playfulness with customers within the atmosphere their
repression. Ortiz's play begins where Lorca's ends: Adelita has committed suicide by
hanging, and the most startling effect visually is that in Ortiz's play, Adelita's legs hang
from the top of the scenery throughout the play while the characters look at them and
comment on her life and death, even making jokes. By the end of the third of four ends,
the feet of the fifteen-year-old, Ade, hangs next to her. The grotesque visual feature
heightens the literal and metaphoric repression of women, and it is the suicide of these
two women and the revenge of Ade's twin, Delia, against Romanito.
--Candyce Leonard

MLA Conference 2007 Papers included in this Newsletter:

  • "Spanish Women Behind the Wheel: Seeking Alternative Communities on the Road"
    Jorge Pérez, University of Kansas
  • "Women of the Past as Agents of Social Change: An Analysis of the Representation of Women in Latin American Telenovelas de Epoca". Rocío Quispe-Agnoli, Michigan State University

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