Here is a brief synopsis of the play. It is set in a rural Spanish community whose chief occupation is sheepherding. Yerma, unhappy about her apparent infertility, is married to Juan, who doesn’t want children. Yerma visits a Sorceress and briefly considers returning to the love of her youth, Victor. Magic failing, she prays for a child at a religious shrine, but instead witnesses a pagan fertility rite. Juan, outraged that his wife is alone, comes out to look for her. Yerma, in her deep frustration at Juan’s indifference to her desire for a child, strangles him, realising that her life will come to an end.
Here is a quick synopsis of the Act II Scene 1: It is three years later from the end of Act I. Five Washerwomen gossip about a woman who still has no children, who has been looking at another man, and whose husband has brought in his sisters to keep an eye her. We know they mean Yerma. The Washerwomen sing about husbands, lovemaking and babies.
This is how I would stage Act II Scene 1 (Washerwomen Scene). I think the play is very simple, so we’ve done it with plainness, emptiness. The setting is very simple,
When they go into the scene where the washerwomen come to the river to wash, the washerwomen bring in a long, white piece of material, a long white sheet, which becomes the laundry and the water. Again, the whole thing would is very abstract.
I would want the actors playing the washerwomen to be in two factions, showing the two sides of the arguments, one on one side of the river and one on the other. The women would all be different ages and would dress accordingly
Costumes help communicate information about both the characters and the location of the play. This helps the actors to feel more like their characters. Clothes convey information that the dialogue of the story may not. I wanted to support the poetic and romantic flavour of the play’s language. The whole of the play enhances the text in a visual way.
The lighting design would be based on the fact that it is a world without the use of machinery, where people interact directly with the land and animals. Many of the scenes take place around dawn or dusk, the most exciting times of the day to light. Using naturalistic motivations for the lighting is appropriate because of the very low level of technology in the world and the possibilities presented by the times of day when the scenes take place. Another important aspect of this production is the play’s roots in Surrealism. Throughout the course of the play as Yerma’s desperation increases, the level of abstraction in the lighting also increases. At the end, we have achieved a surreal visual stage picture. I have chosen to think of Yerma as a series of dynamic paintings which chart the actions of the characters and the meaning of the play. This is evidenced by the structure of the play by the natural motivation for the light and by the surreal elements in the piece.
I’ve decided that the sound for Yerma has a two tasks. First, it must help establish location and time of day; animal sounds at the top of the show, things like morning birds and a rooster, will help tell the audience that it is early morning and that we are in the country. Another example would be the sound of a waterfall going into the washing scene, telling us that the women are approaching the stream. The second task of sound is to reinforce the actors’ voices during the songs. By using microphones around the stage during the songs of the play, the actors’ voices will be amplified. The idea is to help lift up their voices while trying to keep them sounding natural, not to make it seem like they are over-amplified like a rock concert or musical.
Federico Garcia Lorca was heavily influenced by the classics. In Yerma, the Washerwomen of Act Two can be seen as Garcia Lorca’s Greek chorus. They gossip about Yerma’s restlessness and how it is affecting Juan’s reputation in the village. They then argue about whose fault it is when a woman cannot conceive a child.