On October 2, OLIVES AND BLOOD will open on the stage at Connecticut Repertory Theatre, making its regional theatre and Connecticut premiere. The production marks the culmination of a journey that playwright Michael Bradford began nearly a decade earlier. The play explores the mystery surrounding the unsolved murder of the Spanish poet-playwright, Federico Garcia Lorca. Lorca, a promising and polarizing young artist, was disappeared during the Spanish Revolution.
Michael Bradford, also a professor at UConn, was doing research for a course he was teaching on 20th century drama. Already familiar with the poet-playwright Federico Garcia Lorca, Bradford was captivated by the writer’s poetic voice and startling mysterious murder. It began an artistic journey for Bradford that took nearly a decade to complete.
“I knew about Lorca, but as I was preparing to teach some of his plays, I was really struck by the poetic language of his writing. I began my writing career as a poet, and I write with a poetic voice, so Lorca just really grabbed me at this moment,” said Bradford.
He began to write a play about Lorca, armed with only his pen. “I wrote about four pages, and realized I didn’t know enough.” Bradford thoroughly researched and immersed himself in the life and writing of the poet-playwright, and the details around his unsolved murder. He gave the project some time to rest. And then a little more. Bradford needed a jumpstart.
“I had about 10 pages written. I wasn’t really moving on it, and then John Eisner from the LARK called me up and said ‘I have you scheduled for a workshop in 2 months, and you’ll be pretty embarrassed when you show up and the play isn’t written.’ I really have to thank John Eisner for pushing me to buckle down and write the play,” said Bradford.
Afterwards, Bradford received a Fulbright Scholarship and was able to spend time in Granada, Spain. The time he spent in Spain helped to influence the atmosphere of the play. It was then, after the play was complete that he had the opportunity to meet Lorca’s neice, Laura Garcia-Lorca, and talk with her about the play. “It was an emotional experience for me. Being able to share with her what I knew of her family, and that I had written this play about her uncle. It was incredible.”
OLIVES AND BLOOD received its premiere in 2012 at HERE in New York City. In the fall of 2013 it was presented at Brixton East in London, England. The reviews for the play were positive. The production at Connecticut Repertory Theatre marks the first regional theatre production of the play.
Bradford began his life in the theatre as a second career. He grew up in rural Kansas, and attended a play while stationed in Seattle during a 10 year career in the Navy. Bradford was captivated, and the experience propelled him to follow his passion and begin writing plays. He quickly experienced success and began to establish himself as a promising new playwright. His play LIVING IN THE WIND, is the tale of a slave couple separated by their master on the eve of their wedding, and suddenly reunited after Emancipation. The play premiered Off-Broadway at the American Place Theatre, receiving over ten AUDELCO award nominations. Bradford, makes his home in New London, and writes and teaches drama at the University of Connecticut.
OLIVES AND BLOOD is different than many of Bradford’s previous plays. An African American writer, Bradford has found success in plays focused on aspects of the African-American experience. His play, FATHERS AND SONS, a heartfelt drama about the estrangement of fathers and sons through generations of African-American men and their potential reconciliation, received its world premiere at ACT in Seattle, WA. WILLY’S CUT AND SHINE, is the story of five men that witness a murder outside a barbershop in 1950s Georgia and their struggle to speak the truth in the face of their experiences. The play was first staged at the Lark Theatre in NYC.
“Even my agent asked me about [OLIVES AND BLOOD] when I first started writing about it. When I was in Spain, at the University of Granada, people looked at me like ‘What are you doing writing about Lorca? First of all, you’re not a Spaniard. Second of all you’re black.’ The African-American experience is my cultural experience, and I enjoy writing about that. At the end of the day I’m a human being. At the end of the day my life is bigger than the color of my skin. It may be outside my cultural sphere, but if you take your time to immerse yourself in that world, then you can write that,” said Bradford.
Olives and Blood tells the story of Juan Luis Trescante, an aging fascist that is called before a judiciary tribunal to testify about his involvement in the murder of Spanish poet-playwright Federico Garcia Lorca. 40 years after Lorca’s unsolved death, the aging fascist, Trescante, fights to hold onto the myth of an execution that has defined his life but failed to silence the great poet. Moving in time and space between the 1930s and 1970s, Bradford explores the last days of the talented poet, and the political and social motivations that attempted to silence his voice. Olives and Blood investigates the repression of the artist in times of political upheaval and the power of a poetic voice that resonates beyond the confines of the flesh.
“I teach theatre history and I like Aristotle’s adage that the poet is more important to the life of the community than the historian. If you don’t have any idea about Lorca, when you leave I think you know how he approached his work and why his work is important,” said Bradford.
The cast will features Equity actors Martín Solá (Broadway’s The King and I, La Boheme and Coram Boy), Nicholas Urda as Lorca, Anita Petry as Margarite/The Actress, Anthony J. Goes as Alonso/Ignacio, and Dale AJ Rose as Eduardo. The cast also includes Saul Alvarez, Whitney Andrews, Gabriel Aprea, Kent Coleman, and Derrick Holmes.
Preview performance is October 2, 2014. Opening night is Friday October 3, performances continue through October 12, 2014 onstage at the Nafe Katter Theatre on the campus of UConn in Storrs, CT. Tickets are available online at crt.uconn.edu or via phone at 860-486-2113. Subscriptions for the entire 2014-15 season are still available.
THE CREATIVE TEAM
Gary English (Director/Scenic Designer) is the Founding Artistic Director of Connecticut Repertory Theatre and served as Artistic Director and Department Head in Dramatic Arts for fifteen years. Gary English holds a BFA from the University of Arizona and an MFA in Stage Design from Northwestern University. In addition to his current position at UCONN he has also served on the Faculty at the State University of New York and at Carnegie-Mellon University. Recent major directing credits include The Miracle Worker, and American Primitive, both by William Gibson, and produced at The Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, MA. Other projects at CRT include A Man For All Seasons, Pentecost, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, A Little Night Music, Carousel, Man Of La Mancha (which received the 1997 Best Musical Award for the Connecticut Critics’ Circle), Wings, The Musical (which was nominated for Best Direction by the Connecticut Critics Circle), Candide, A Cry Of Players, Jesus Christ Superstar, Our Country’s Good, and the world premiere of William Gibson’s play, Jonah’s Dream.
As a designer, his work includes scenery and costumes for Off-Broadway, television and over 70 productions at many of America’s leading repertory theatres, including Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse In the Park, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Buffalo Studio Arena, StageWest, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, George Street Playhouse, Barter Theatre, Brunswick Music Theatre, American Stage Festival, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera and North Shore Music Theatre.
Michael Bradford is an Associate Professor of Dramatic Arts and Director of the Theatre Studies BA at the University of Connecticut, where he teaches theatre history, dramaticnliterature, and playwriting. He has written numerous full-length and one-act plays
produced at various venues in New York, including Off-Broadway at the American Place Theatre, the LARK Play Developmental Center, the Ensemble Studio Theatre, the Access and the NADA Theatre. His play, Living in the Wind received over 10 AUDELCO nominations Regionally, his work has premiered at the Hygienic Arts Theatre (New London, Ct), eta Creative Arts Foundation, Inc. (Chicago, Il.), the Playhouse on Park Theatre (Hartford, Ct.), the HERE Art Center (NYC) and a World Premiere at A Contemporary Theatre (ACT) (Seattle, Wa.). His workshops and readings include the Manhattan Theatre Club (NYC), The New Black Fest (NYC), Urban Stages (NYC)and Liminal Studios (London) His residencies and fellowships include the Manhattan Theatre Club Playwright Fellowship, the LARK Developmental Theatre (NYC), the New York Stage and Film Company Residency at Vassar, NY, the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism Writing Fellowship, and a Research Scholar Fulbright to Granada, Spain. His work is published by Broadway Play Publishing, Inc. “A Contemplation of Trees,” was produced by Stonewall Films in the Fall of 2007. Inter-mareas, Portugal and the Univ. of Theatre, Tirgu-Mures, Romania. Michael is also theplaywright-in-residence for the Bated Breath Theatre Company, Hartford, Ct.
The Design Team includes: Thamiris Esteves, Costume Designer; Michael Chybowski, Lighting Designer; Tim Brown and Josh Winiarski, Video Designers; and Lexi Macchiaroli, Sound Designer. The Production Stage Manager is Julien Winter Tremblay.
Martín Solá (Trescante) is delighted to make his CRT debut as Tescante in “Olives and Blood.” He has performed on Broadway in “The King and I”, “La Bohème”, and “Coram Boy”. Martín has also appeared in productions with the prestigious City Center Encores The Public Theater, New York City Opera, and INTAR. Regional credits include The Goodspeed Opera House, The Signature Theater, The Sundance Theater Lab, and The Banff Center. Martin also made an appearance on CBS “Hostages” and starred in the award winning independent film short “ Sabado Morning”.
Nicholas Urda (Federico Garcia Lorca) was last seen onstage as Valentine in Two Gentlemen of Verona with Shakespeare on the Sound in Rowayton, CT. Other credits include: The Off-Broadway premiere of The Preacher and The Shrink, Counselor James in Billy Witch (APAC), Wheeler in Costa Rehab (MTWorks), Brutus in Julius Caesar (Curious Frog), The Real Thing, The Shrew Tamer (Northern Stage), Private Lives (Two River Theatre), Othello, starring Patrick Page and Avery Brooks, Comedy of Errors, Don Juan, The Persians, Loves Labour’s Lost (Shakespeare Theatre Co, DC), Loves Labour’s Lost (Royal Shakespeare Co). His film Credits Include: White Irish Drinkers, Audition directed by Matt Herron and many other shorts and commercials.
Anthony J. Goes (Alonso/Ignacio) graduated from UConn in 2014 with his MFA in Acting. Past CRT credits include: Much Ado About Nothing, Three Musketeers, Big Love, Hairspray, His Girl Friday, Romeo & Juliet, O Beautiful, and Odysseus DOA. Regional credits include: Chautauqua Theatre Company, Foothills Theatre, Fiddlehead Theatre, and The GAMM to name a few. Anthony is also a graduate of the New England School of Clowning.
Anita Petry (Actress/ Margarite) holds a BA in Theatre from The City College of New York and an MFA in Acting from Columbia University where she studied with Andrei Serban, Anne Bogart and Kristin Linklater. Her New York credits include roles with Classic Stage Company, Mabou Mines and INTAR Theatre. She has performed onstage internationally in Brazil at Teatro Dulcina and Teatro Helena Barcelos. She can be seen as Spanish professor Camila Perez in the Amazon.com original series “Alpha House” and soon in the new Google Translate commercial.
Please call 860-486-2113 for tickets or for more information. Please call or visit the box office for specific show dates and times because performance schedules vary and are subject to change. Tickets available online at www.crt.uconn.edu.
Box Office Location – Please note that the CRT box office is now housed in the Nafe Katter Theatre, located at 820 Bolton Road. There is short term parking on Bolton Road, in the loading zone directly in front of the theatre. CRT tickets can no longer be purchased at the Jorgensen box office. CRT’s box office is open Monday-Friday, noon – 5 p.m., and will also be open one hour prior to show time at the theatre where the performance is taking place.
Weeknight evening performances start at 7:30 p.m. Weekend evening performances start at 8 p.m. Matinee performances start at 2 p.m.
Ticket prices range from $7 – $37.
For more information or press tickets contact Matthew J. Pugliese at 860-486-4799.
CRT is the professional producing arm of the Department of Dramatic Arts at the University of Connecticut, Storrs. CRT productions are directed, designed by, and cast with visiting professional artists, including Equity actors, faculty members, and the department’s most advanced student artists. The synergy between professional and advanced student artists creates extraordinary theatre and a unique learning environment.