Dramatic meditation on motherhood transports audiences to barren wasteland

VICTORIA, B.C. – Passion, patience and masks.

These three words reflect much of what the 2020-21 Company C Studio Ensemble, a group of artists at the Canadian College of Performing Arts, have experienced since COVID-19 safety measures required the College to temporarily shut down last March.

While the pandemic changed life as we know it, the ensemble’s 13 students have been anxious to resume theatre classes and rehearsals, and to get back onstage.

That wish has become a reality with the reopening of the College, where Federico Garcia Lorca’s acclaimed tragedy Yerma (translated by Ursula Rani Sarma) begins a four-day run on Oct. 22, with livestream options available. It will be the first in-house production since the College’s year-end musical Newsies was cancelled last April.

The title character in Yerma (the Spanish name meaning barren) is a childless woman in rural Spain who has a desperate desire for motherhood. Her struggle is between her duty to her husband and her inner need to have a child. It becomes an obsession that drives her to commit a horrible crime. Yerma deals with themes of isolation, passion, and honour, and underlying tones of nature and jealousy.

Author García Lorca has described the play, set in a time reminiscent of 1930’s Spain, as “a tragic poem.” It’s an appropriate description for a drama that showcases original melodies, a striking set that reflects the main character’s mental state and live-streamed performances with unique perspectives for patrons at home.

The Studio Ensemble is elated to welcome back Mercedes Bátiz-Benét as director, after working with the esteemed Mexican-Canadian multi-disciplinary artist in 2019, when she served as Artistic Consultant for West Side Story.

“It’s important for the students of CCPA to experience masterworks of theatre from cultures outside of the Anglo-Saxon canon,” she said.

“The play’s potency is the eternal and universal nature of womanhood, whether a Spanish peasant in the 1930s or a modern-day Canadian CEO.”

In-house performances of Yerma, accessible to subscribers only on a first-come, first serve basis, will take place in the Performance Hall, with capacity limited to less than 20 per cent. The College is committed to providing a safe experience for students, staff, and guests with appropriate COVID-19 precautions in place.

Content Advisory: Sexually explicit content, violence, strong language, fog.

What: Yerma
Who: Canadian College of Performing Arts Studio Ensemble
When: In-person (subscribers only): Oct. 22, 23 and 24, 7:30 pm; Oct. 25, 2:00 pm
Livestream schedule: Oct. 23 and 24, 7:30 pm; Oct. 25, 2:00 pm
Where: CCPA Performance Hall, 1701 Elgin Rd.

Season subscriptions:
boxoffice@ccpacanada.com or call 250 940 6851
Livestream tickets:

Michael D. Reid