Spanish Artists in New York (artistic director Ignacio García-Bustelo) presents the New York premiere of Alberto Conejero’s The Dark Stone, a thrilling story of difference and connection set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War (September 23-2 October at Repertorio Español, 138 E 27th St; in English with Spanish subtitles). In this new production of Conejero’s internationally acclaimed two-character drama, director Ignacio García-Bustelo stars a Ukrainian actor and a Belarusian actor in the irreconcilable roles of captive and captor, nationalist and republican, and asks how and if transcendence might occur between them. . Can circumstances cause us to see each other’s humanity through such entrenched divisions and unequal power dynamics? As Conejero narrows the chasm between “enemy forces” by placing them face to face, in isolation, García-Bustelo’s production, in the powerful suggestion behind its casting, reframes the story in the present.
García-Bustelo explains: “The struggle that took place in Spain almost a hundred years ago during the civil war is unfolding before our eyes between the Ukrainian and Russian nations. The landscape changes; conflict, violence, unrest, Rather than producing this piece as an archaeological piece relating only to a certain period of history, we believe that this work offers an opportunity to examine universal themes about human condition in an age of In doing so, theater remains relevant, because it speaks to us about our current and immediate situation, and provides a place for dialogue with our audience.”
The Dark Stone centers on Rafael (Zenon Zeleniuch), a Republican who was taken prisoner by the Nationalists; Sebastián (Andrew KoGolenok), the young guard in his care, becomes his only company. They reveal secrets in a single night, battling against a daylight that will bring renewed horror and uncertainty; they are both unaware that their meeting will change the course of the war and the theater. The Dark Stone is a play about intolerance and memory as a means of justice, and about the small intimacies that can be found even in the midst of atrocity.
The Dark Stone is inspired by the true story of Rafael Rodriguez Rapún, secretary of La Barraca University Theater and friend and lover of Federico García Lorca in the years leading up to their respective tragic deaths. (Rapún died in a military hospital a year after Lorca’s assassination). Conejero’s vision of Rapún’s imagined captivity and the urgency of his character’s need to protect memory as he faces mortality is a work of fiction, but informed by rigorous research. Conejero writes in an author’s note: “I had the privilege of benefiting from the help of members of Rafael’s family, mainly his brother Tomás, who in Madrid in the spring and summer of 2012 shared with me , at the age of ninety-five hours of memories and memories of their relationship. This work is dedicated to his generosity, his good humor and his high spirit.
While evoking contemporary conflict in its casting choices and minimalist, universalizing production elements, the production simultaneously represents a celebration of Federico García Lorca in New York, a city that radically shaped his art and worldview as he was attending Columbia University. As the play surrounds Rapún’s relationship to Lorca and the preservation of Lorca’s socially invaluable texts, the figure of Lorca emerges in absentia, in a contemplation of the theater’s remarkable ability to keep the past alive as a lingering reflection of the present. .
The production, the very premiere of a work by Alberto Conejero in New York, is also a gripping introduction for New York audiences to one of Spain’s most celebrated contemporary playwrights (and director of the Festival de Otoño in Madrid). Her work plays with collective and individual memory – what we choose to move on and leave behind when the unthinkable happens.
In García-Bustelo’s production, the characters’ inner worlds are expanded with live video, combined with projection design (by Laia Cabrera and Isabelle Duverger) and mapping that creates an intimate focus on performances and experiences. human pain that Conejero’s play depicts – both conflict and reconciliation. García-Bustelo describes the set (by Leni Méndez) as “minimalist; the ruins of a room after a bombing or a natural disaster, or that particular space in our brain after a personal loss, when everything disintegrates in our memories. “
The Dark Stone premiered at the National Theater in Madrid in 2015 and has received Spain’s most prestigious accolades, including the 2015 Premio Ceres for Best Author and the top five categories of the 2016 Premio Max Awards, including Best Playwright, best director, and best production; Alberto Conejero was also a finalist for the Valle-Inclán de Teatro award. Since then, The Dark Stone has been produced internationally in the UK, Chile, Mexico, Uruguay, Colombia, Paraguay, Argentina, Peru and Russia.
The cast of the AENY production is Zenon Zeleniuch (Rafael) and Andrew KoGolenok (Sebastián). The creative team includes Ignacio García-Bustelo (director), Valeria Llaneza (assistant director), Leni Méndez (sets and costumes), Laia Cabrera and Isabelle Duverger (projections), Bruce A! Kraemer (lighting design) and David Lawson (sound design).
Performance schedule and ticket information
Performances run from September 23 to October 2; September 23, 24, 30 and October 1 at 8 p.m. and at 3 p.m. on September 25 and October 2.
Tickets are: Premium – $95 (preferred seat locations and a drink ticket), Support Level – $75
(bears cost of production and cheaper tickets), Regular – $49 and Student/Senior – $25.