UNMASKING STATE: One-act company hopes Yerma is key


Jocelyn Gonzales

Blocking the scene– Director Vonya Eudy works with seniors Samantha Gutierrez and Reese Cooper on a scene from the Spanish one-act play Yerma during fourth period on Jan. 21. Cooper portrays the title character, while Gutierrez has a dual role of a girl and a laundress in the play.

  While last year’s one-act play ended in tragedy as the cast never got a chance to advance to state, this year’s cast hopes a tragedy in Yerma by Federico Garcia Lorca will deliver it to state.

 With a cast which includes senior Reese Cooper as Yerma, senior Micah Smith as Juan, and senior Briana Froese as Maria, director Vonya Eudy chose the play Yerma which is not only rich in history, but also a demanding one to act.

  “It’s great literature, and it fits our students extremely well,” Eudy said. “It’s extremely challenging.These students have done really well with realism. With the background of poetry in the play, it gives them a great challenge. It is a struggle for a woman to fit into place in society, and the play is very accurate to today’s society.”

  Yerma is a story based in Spain, where a woman named Yerma is placed in difficult circumstances. With Spanish culture in mind, the cast must project the tragic story. 

  Yerma is about a woman who is barren who wants to have a child,” Cooper said. “She wants it so badly, it drives her mad. It’s a story about how obsession can alter and ruin someone else’s life.”  

  Each role in the cast plays an important part in Yerma’s obsession. Froese’s role, Maria, experiences a cold shift in her friendship. 

  “She has just found out she is pregnant, and her best friend Yerma has not been able to have a child,” Froese said. “Yerma is quite envious and always asks about how it feels, and it overwhelms her. She doesn’t want her to feel that way toward her. She tries her best to keep Yerma looking at the positive things she has in life.” 

  Although Yerma is surrounded by loved ones, she continues to long for things she can’t have. Her husband faces her envious suffering along with his own.

  “Juan is Yerma’s husband, and he knows they can’t have children,” Smith said. “Inside he is hurting as well, and Yerma just keeps getting more consumed with her situation, and it breaks the relationship a bit.”

  The tragic theme gives the students a challenge to fit into the characters’ shoes. Yerma’s complicated characterization provides motivation. 

  “I really have to play her with longing; she is a very complex character,” Cooper said. “My goal is to accurately portray how life is for an infertile woman.”

  Unlike last season’s comedy, this play is a serious one, which Froese said she enjoys more. 

  “We did our first comedy for one act last year, and it’s a whole different experience,” Froese said. “I love dramas, though; you go out of the theater inspired and changed. The message you get from them and the acting and tech is so beautiful.”

  With pandemic protocol, actors must wear  masks at all times. During performances regulations will enforce audience sizes, most of the time with only the judge in attendance, and award ceremonies will be held virtually. 

  “The new rules we have gotten have been a struggle, since it’s so different than anything before,” Smith said. “It’s just another obstacle we have to overcome, and we have been doing a pretty good job, too.”

  Additionally, due to COVID-19, the rounds to get to state have been downsized.

  “This year, they have eliminated the area round because it is so much traveling, and schools don’t have to spend too much money,” Eudy said. “So this year there will only be two teams who will advance in bi-district straight to regionals.”

  On March 17 the district round of competition will be held at Denver City. Although the season has changed, the actors still have the same motivation.

  “To be successful for me is to create something beautiful,” Cooper said, “something that brings out emotion when people see it.”