A bug's death
After last fall's sumptuously attired Gorey Stories at the Deep Ellum Center for the Arts, Our Endeavors partners Scott Osborne and Patti Kirkpatrick wanted to perform a similar feat -- a smartly designed, stylized performance that would be suitable to its season but not tied down by one particular mood. Erstwhile Our Endeavors collaborators Christina Vela and John Flores suggested a lesser-known script from a 20th-century literary giant they'd been mulling over for seven years -- The Butterfly's Evil Spell, by the gay Spanish poet Federico García Lorca. There was one slight problem -- in the decades since the play debuted in 1920, the ending was lost. Our Endeavors solved this in a studious, artful, and organic way.
"The actors sat around a table, and after we'd studied the play, we had a secret ballot," director Flores recalls. "We asked each one to scribble on a sheet of paper a vicious rumor or a prediction about the character sitting next to them, from their character's point of view. That's how we extended the relationships through the second act and into a third act. Then, we hunted through Lorca's Book of Poems, which The Butterfly's Evil Spell was supposed to be included in as a poem, and found the words to give voice to the characters in this new situation. All the words you hear onstage are Lorca's."
Performed three years after a worldwide centennial celebration of Lorca's birth, Our Endeavor's show details the disruptive influence of a wounded butterfly (Anna Brownsted) on a meadow colony of beetles -- specifically, Poet Beetle (Newton Pittman), who finds his little bug brain spinning overtime with infatuation and inspiration. His multi-legged comrades are, needless to say, less than thrilled at his transformation; tragedy ensues.
"It would be appropriate to call it a tragicomedy," says Flores of the show's tone. "Of course, it's ridiculous, because these are insects. But the play uses that to bring up a question: 'What happens to bugs when they're suddenly confronted with the high concepts that poetry and love provide?'"
Art and amour as pesticides for stunted souls? With that in mind, Lorca reminds you that the insects in your life aren't just the little pests who scurry under the kitchen sink. They might be breaking your heart in a phone conversation, flirting recklessly across a restaurant table...or curled up in bed next to you.
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