There’s a lot of drama on Grand Cayman.
…most notably at the Prospect Playhouse with the Cayman Drama Society’s double bill performances of Spanish playwright Frederico Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding and The House of Bernarda Alba during late May and early June.
The opening night is on Thursday, 26 May, at 7pm, followed by another seven performances running on Friday, 27 May through Sunday, 29 May, and Thursday, 2 June, through Sunday, 5 June.
Currently the cast and crew are preparing, rehearsing, learning their lines and perfecting their characters.
Nick Dereza directs the two productions with a vision and excitement that’s expected from a passionate lover of drama.
“Both plays are set in the 1930s and capture the drama of human interaction – they are a magnificent portrayal of Spanish and Andalusian culture,” he said.
The cast has only good things to say about Dereza.
“Nick allows his actors to really own their characters and he gives us a lot of freedom to play around and see what works and what doesn’t,” said Sloane Pharr, an actress in both plays.
“Nick spares no thought for his own sanity when signing up to direct at Cayman Drama Society – it’s a huge undertaking that eats into most of his spare time, and no doubt his sleep also,” said Adam Cockerill, one of the few male actors in Blood Wedding. “You have to respect his devotion.”
And Dereza reciprocated when talking about his beloved cast, a group of individuals from all around the world that share in his passion and vision.
“They are very warm, smart and giving,” he said. “It is multicultural cast from at least 10 different countries which has made it both diverse and exciting. I am spinning plates, but sometimes a few get broken…”
Dereza has a humorous side and luckily so does the cast.
“At first I was slightly put out that within a couple of seconds of meeting me, the director had cast me as a crazy old lady,” said Fiona Pimentel, the grandmother in Blood Wedding, a role that Dereza created for her.
“Nick is extremely dedicated to getting the plays right, is brilliant at communicating with us, and open to everyone’s input,” she added. “I have every confidence in his competence as director. I only hope that his fiancée also loves the theatre.”
Actors in character
Julie Ann Hilton plays the Mother in Blood Wedding and one of the mourners in The House of Bernarda Alba.
The Mother character is one of the leads in Blood Wedding, so she has to not only remember longer and more complex scenes, but also weave her character’s arc into the play in a natural and exciting way.
“I’m a mother of one son, and I brought him up alone so there are lines in the play and feelings the Mother has that resonate in the mother-son relationship – let’s call it ferocious mother-love,” she said. “Sometimes it comes from nowhere and overpowers you. Playing that role in the person of a Spanish widow who has lost her only other son gives me the hope that all the mothers in the audience might recognise those feelings and identify with her. No doubt sons might recognise those emotions as well.”
Hilton is enjoying herself while working with the other actors.
“(I enjoy) working with a wide range of folks from different backgrounds, countries and experiences,” she said.
Abbey Le Cornu plays The Wife in Blood Wedding – she said she is impressed with how relaxed everyone seems to be in rehearsals.
“I’m used to everyone stressing around me coming up to a performance, but I guess there’s still time for that.”
Cockerill said he’s excited about the performances, which are less than a week away.
“The most interesting thing is knowing that you will most likely know a few people coming to see each night’s performance, and this gives each night a unique edge of anticipation, or perhaps, dread,” he said.
Cayman Drama Society
Niamh Hutchinson is the treasurer for the Cayman Drama Society. She’s close to all the productions running through the Prospect Playhouse – her husband Richard Johnson is the chairman of Cayman Drama Society.
“Nick is a very talented director with an eye for bringing out unusual and different facets of a play,” she said. “He was hugely influential on the current Cayman Drama Society committee because he emailed Sheree Ebanks – a director at Butterfield bank and a Cayman Drama Society committee member – and myself with a detailed list of what CDS should do.”
They took his email and made it a policy at Cayman Drama Socity so that they addressed his concerns.
“He did not like that the changing rooms for the actors were below par. I know from serving on the committee from January 2010 that the concerns of actors were second place to the concerns of the theatre manager,” she said.
And a group of volunteers has worked over the past two months on painting, decorating, cleaning and sorting out the Prospect Playhouse.
“We hired two 20-yard skips – dumpsters – which were filled,” she said. “We sorted, cleaned and painted the props and costume cupboards. We finished painting the large changing room and the little hallway from the outside door. We want to clean the playhouse and make the rooms usable and functional for everyone.”
Most of the painting, cleaning and tidy up work is finished – they are even working on getting Internet access.
“We have also purchased a brand new projector with computer compatible functionality and a large screen which will be used for future production meetings, AGM and social nights,” she said.
All of these new policies lead to better productions, she said.
“There is a new energy and vibe at Cayman Drama Society,” she added. “We hope that Nick has had a positive experience this year as several members have worked hard to make his experience radically different from last year.”