Red Deer College theatre studies students are fired up about their season opener Fuente Ovejuna, which hits the Studio A stage Oct. 13.
Additional shows run Oct. 14-15 and Oct. 18-22. Curtain is at 7:30 p.m. There are also weekend matinees Oct. 15 and 22 starting at 1 p.m.
Based on a riveting true story and written by Felix de Vega, the story focuses on the small Spanish village of Fuente Ovejuna (translated ‘the well where sheep drink’).
The community is terrorized by a sadistic military commander, and as things deteriorate ultimately the townspeople find themselves forced to fight for their freedom.
Revealing a stunning show of courage and a powerful display of unity, they surge ahead with a desperate attempt to overcome the tyranny.
“It’s about courage,” explained director Jeff Page, who oversaw last year’s production of A Chorus of Disapproval.
As he points out, people often talk about the strength of community ties, but typically it doesn’t call for much of a commitment. How far does it really go? How deep would it be if circumstances were unimaginably dark and threatening?
The villagers of course show tremendous courage as they spark “huge political change” in their world. “This is a village driven too far and that really has no recourse. How far would my community go?”
The play takes place during the time of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand who play key roles in an attempt to bring justice to the town. But things turn out quite differently than anyone could have predicted, and ultimately it’s a rich, vibrant, passionate and inspiring story. It also dramatizes the abuse of power its dangerous consequences while showing the potential of common people to take command of their own destiny.
de Vega, who was a contemporary of Shakespeare, was certainly a gifted and prolific writer, having penned some 1,800 plays besides thousands of sonnets and several novels and epic poems. Fuente Ovejuna was first published in Madrid in 1619, and the events it was inspired by occurred in 1476.
“That’s what he offered in his plays – a reflection of his times.”
Translated by Richard Sanger, RDC’s production has been designed by Daniela Masellis, who Page has worked with in Edmonton. “We knew we wanted a process that involved design ‘on the go’,” said Page of the show’s formation. “I knew she was the right one to work with.”
Costume coordination has also been overseen by Donna Jopp, with the set and costumes influenced by the colours, culture and sensibilities of the Mediterranean.
But primarily it’s about what the students bring to the stage.
Page recalls teaching a course last year that included this particular play, and there were plenty of lively discussions about it. When it came to play selection for this season, Fuente Ovejuna surfaced and he shared how the script had resonated so well with his class.
That went a long ways with bringing the compelling story to fruition for an ideal season opener. “It’s been challenging but extremely rewarding,” says Page, who is clearly proud of the heart and energy the students have brought to the project.
“They really responded to it,” he also adds of that initial time in exploring the play with students in class. “So I like to say the students chose it.”
Tickets for Fuente Ovejuna are available at the Black Knight Ticket Centre by calling 403-777-6626 or online at www.bkticketcentre.ca.
The play is recommended for those ages 14 and up.