California State University East Bay

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California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

California State University East Bay

The Pioneer

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Highlands Summer Theatre Show Explores Passion and Lust

Actors Jordan Battle, Joe Mason and Belgica Rodriguez during a scene in “Yerma.”

CSU East Bay Department of Theatre and Dance presented the first installment of the Highlands Summer Theatre shows, “An Evening with Lorca, Shepard, and Chaikin,” with two segments, “Yerma” and “Savage/Love.”

Performed to a sold out show, the plays are centered on relationships and passionate interactions.  Both 45-minute plays embodying different forms of what love is and means for different people.

Although the storylines fell short in terms of engagement and overall interest appeal, the main ideas for each play offered spectators more than a show.  Audience members walked away with different views on relationships and how our society constructs them.

The engagement in some sort of relationship is at the forefront of many people’s lives, and “Yerma” and “Savage/Love,” while not the most profound or absorbing of productions, engaged audiences on what it takes and doesn’t take to have a relationship worth our while.

The adapted version of “Yerma,” by Ulises Alcala and written by Federico Garcia Lorca, deals with restrictive Spanish views of marriage, child bearing and machismo.

Though it became clear early on that the main premise of the play surrounds pregnancy, the storylines were confusing and felt empty throughout the show.

“Yerma” was performed in both English and Spanish, and except for the three main characters, the actors’ Spanish was hard on the ears.

While Belgica Rodriguez spoke beautifully and passionately and Jordan Battle had a clean and charming accent for an apparent non-speaker, it was hard to hear the butchered accents of the romantic language by the rest of the artists.

Joe Mason was the best actor of the night.  He performed with intense deliveries and passionate lines, presenting a genuine believability and character that was refreshing to see at a college show.

The music that accompanied “Yerma” was soothing and enjoyable, entrancing the audience with a pleasurable folkloric sound.

Yet “Yerma” ended abruptly, without a true conclusion and leaving much unanswered as the topic of pregnancy does not seem to be resolved for the main characters in the story, thus left the viewer feeling unfilled and dissatisfied altogether.

“Savage/Love,” written by Sam Shepard and Joseph Chaikin was more enjoyable than its predecessor primarily because of its relatable tale for college students in our fast paced and wired society.

An exploration of the loss of human touch and physical interaction in our digital age, “Savage/Love” is a creative performance on how technology has shaped the way we interact with others and consequently how we have lost that natural interaction.

Composed of various poetic vignettes through resourceful use of projector screens and interesting music, “Savage/Love” highlights the many facets of love and lust with sensible touches of humor, physicality and fervor.

The first scene began with what could be an average day in any bustling metropolitan city, with the ensemble of actors rushing hurriedly past one another, constantly on their gadgets and never looking away or up from them.

“Look at me with your eyes,” was yelled constantly, exemplifying how we have lost the ability to interact with one another face-to-face because we rely on technology to carry out once seemingly natural functions.

“Savage/Love” explores sensuality and passion in romantic relationships as a constant roller coaster of emotions—unpredictable, tumultuous and gratifying all at once.

The short play did a notable job in exposing the many perils and physically harming aspects of relationships that are unfortunately present in a great number of college relationships.

“Savage/Love” was interesting, as the idea that we are dependent on technology in a way that has deprived us of true face-to-face interaction and communication exposes in the end a failure to connect with others.

The plays excelled more so in the objective and points of their story rather than in the final execution, yet it was respectable and reputable to see mature subjects at a college show.

For their next production, Highlands Summer Theatre will present “Secrets EXposed,” once again dealing with relationships—specifically feelings, intentions and what is meaningful to college students today.

“Secrets EXposed,” will also feature “Exoneration,” a short play by CSUEB Professor Stephen Gutierrez.

Remaining performances for “An Evening with Lorca, Shepard, and Chaikin,” will be in the Studio Theatre August 6 and 7, with Secrets EXposed” performed August 4-6 and 12-13.

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California State University East Bay
Highlands Summer Theatre Show Explores Passion and Lust