George Richmond-Scott: “There is something urgent and primal in Lorca.”

 Director George Richmond-Scott tells us about his new version of Federico García Lorca’s Blood Wedding, set in modern London.

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Lorca’s Blood Wedding is a classic tragedy based in rural Spain. It is a tale that blends love, revenge, warring families and fate with rich symbolism.

But George Richmond-Scott is staging his production, which runs at Clapham’s Omnibus Theatre, in the capital.

He tells us about his love of Lorca and why he felt the city’s Spanish community perfect for this story:

My grandmother lived for 30 years or more in the house her father built her on a hill in the countryside of Ibiza. We used to visit during the summer holidays when I was a child.

Vivid sense memories still come back to me in dreams. The pine trees that encircled the hilltop. Toasting breakfast pastries on the veranda. Slatted sunlight through giant shutters. Women in black working in hot olive groves.

Perhaps that is why I fell in love with Lorca when I was 16 years old and first encountered his plays at college. The extraordinary poetry, his surreal, strongly felt world and the passionate people, particularly the women that inhabited it, captivated me. The first play I ever directed was Lorca’s The House of Bernarda Alba.

When I approached Marie McCarthy, the Omnibus Theatre’s Artistic Director, about the possibility of staging a production, Blood Wedding immediately came to mind.

Blood Wedding at Omnibus Theatre
Blood Wedding at Omnibus Theatre

I was excited by the prospect of a long-held ambition made real and began to imagine the mother and son in the story as restaurant owners living in present-day London. I’ve always loved poetry and writing. With the help of our brilliant dramaturg, Fay Lomas, the reimagined version of the story flowed out.

One of the biggest challenges was recreating the symbolism and metaphors in a contemporary urban setting, while trying my best to be true to the spirit of the original.

Ideas such as Mother and Death being played by the same actress, almost as the yin and yang of one person, and the Moon character being a gender ambiguous creature of the night, occurred to me very early on.

Blood Wedding at Omnibus Theatre
Blood Wedding at Omnibus Theatre

All the characters in this version of the story have their roots in Spain. Some feel very at home living in London, while others long to go back. I believe we tend to have complex, often conflicted feelings about our home nations – and also about adopting a new one – so I’ve tried to let this be part of the play without upstaging the core of Lorca’s story.

I hope people are as drawn into the story as I was when I first encountered it and fascinated by the strangeness of the style in which it is told. I’d love audiences to feel a connection towards the central characters and their issues; feeling trapped by life, being unable to process grief and struggling hard against fate.

There is something urgent and primal in Lorca that speaks to a deep part of the human condition, regardless of where or when the story is set.

Blood Wedding runs at the Omnibus Theatre from 4 to 23 September.