when in 1995 Rosario Ferre public “The Lagoon House”, the novel caused a scandal. That a Puerto Rican writer, known not only in the country but in Latin America, with more than a dozen books published (some by prestigious Mexican publishers such as Joaquín Mortiz and Fondo de Cultura Económica) wrote her novel in English seemed like a betrayal of the already centenary resistance of the Puerto Rican “intelligentsia” to the language imposed by the new metropolis since 1898.
The novel also revolved around the conflicts of a prominent family, the Mendizábals, expressed through the confrontation between husband and wife due to their marked differences in perspective regarding the Puerto Rican political situation. Both offered contrasting views not only on that point, but also on the power relations between men and women and the role of history in the lives of the characters. All this accentuated the scandal. Many believed they “read” allusions and references to real people and events in the novel.
A rereading of the novel 25 years after it was published, however, reveals that the themes woven into the text were not only relevant then but still are. How does history, with its claims to objectivity, relate to literature, which depends on the imagination? Can we speak of a female literature against a male? How are power relations between the sexes elucidated? How do family stories fit into the history of a country? Can a person free himself from inherited social attitudes and political ideologies?
A group of theater based in Washington D.C., the GALA Hispanic Theater (the acronym means “Group of Latin American Artists”), which has a theater at number 333 on 14th Street in that city, premieres this week an adaptation of “La casa de la laguna”, made by the playwright Caridad Svich, of Cuban, Argentine and Croatian descent. she will direct it Rebecca Aparicio, also a playwright as well as a theater director known for her work in the United States. Among other works, she has directed “In the Heights”, by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Quiara Alegría Hudes; “Surge” by Tanya Pérez; “Radical” by Nelson Díaz-Marcano and her own work, “Pedro Pan”. “La casa de la laguna” will premiere on February 5 and will be presented on weekends until the 27th of the month.
The new day spoke with Rebecca Aparicio about her vision of the conflict -of the conflicts- that the work poses. Of Cuban origin, the director believes that the dramatic text speaks to today’s public, resonating with the current situation in Puerto Rico and, even more so, with what is happening right now on the island, she says, referring to the protests of the last week against the visit of the King of Spain.
“Although the main plot of the work is set in the years from the fifties to the eighties of the last century, it touches on relevant issues at any time,” he said.
Two Puerto Ricans Ernest Concepcion Y Yaiza Figueroa, play the main characters, Quintín and Isabel, the marriage that faces each other due to their different vital positions. “All the interpreters, except one, are Puerto Rican,” explains the director. “Some come from the Island to participate in the work.”
In the first act, Aparicio highlights “the scenes that have to do with Quintín’s parents, Buenaventura and Rebeca, and then the confrontation between Quintín and his son Manuel over the political situation in Puerto Rico. Political ideas,” he says, “affect and divide a family. I wanted those issues to come out. The conflict not only refers to the colonial culture but also to the patriarchal one: those are the ideas of the father. Through the work, Quintín completes the male chauvinist cycle of violence and domination of men over women”. The uncertainty of the political situation on the Island, he adds, also affects families.
Given that the play will be presented to a heterogeneous audience that is not necessarily familiar with the situation in Puerto Rico, she has tried to give the action a historical context so that people can understand the emotional part of such issues. To achieve this, he has used projections that explain what happened on the Island during the years covered by the plot.
For Aparicio, the work of directing dramatic works is similar to that of writing them. “In both cases one is propitiating a ‘birth’; he is giving words a chance. In doing so, he brings to the public’s consciousness what is hidden: There are stories that have to be told,” he says. The one written by Rosario Ferré in “La casa de la laguna” is definitely one of them.