After success this year with premieres of Denise Despeyroux‘s The Reality and Paloma Pedrero‘s The Eyes of the Night, the Cervantes Theatre, London’s home of Spanish and Latin American drama, concludes its female-led 2019 season with a major new staging of Isabel Allende‘s literary bestseller The House of the Spirits.
Adapted by OBIE Award-winning playwright and lyricist Caridad Svich and directed by Cervantes Theatre co-founder and associate director Paula Paz, The House of the Spirits runs from 28 October to 30 November 2019, with alternating performances in both English and Spanish. There is an English post-show Q&A chaired by Mate Terri Paddock on Friday 1 November and press night on 7 November. The production is supported by Acción Cultural Española.
Charting the rise and fall of the Trueba family in an unnamed Latin American country (reminiscent of Chile), The House of the Spirits spans the 1920s through the 1970s, as the country moves through enormous sociopolitical changes that culminate in a devastating dictatorship.
The play is told from the point of view of the youngest of three generations of women, Alba, who, as the play opens, is held in a torture cell by the government. The swirling memories, frightening and amusing, lyrical and fantastic, illuminate the stage as Alba records her family’s history and ultimately finds the strength to recover her own story.
This new re-imagining of The House of the Spirits is a bold and daring theatre piece that captures the force and sensuality of Allende’s vision through Caridad Svich’s unique poetic spirit.
At the Cervantes, Pia Laborde-Noguez plays Alba in 12-strong bilingual cast that also features Raul Fernandes, Daniela Cristo, Alejandra Costa, Vanessa Calderon, Diana Volpe, Constanza Ruff, Alvaro Ramos, Gian Carlo Ferrini, Elena Saenz, Rodrigo Penalosa and Alvaro Flores.
Novelist Isabel Allende is one of the most widely-read authors in the world, having sold more than 74 million books. Born in Peru and raised in Chile, Isabel won worldwide acclaim in 1982 with the publication of her first novel, The House of the Spirits, which began as a letter to her dying grandfather. Since then, she has authored more than twenty-three bestselling and critically acclaimed books, including Of Love and Shadows, Eva Luna, Daughter of Fortune, Island Beneath the Sea, Paula, The Japanese Lover and In the Midst of Winter. Her work has been translated into more than forty-two languages.
In addition to her work as a writer, Allende devotes much of her time to human rights causes. In 1996, following the death of her daughter Paula, she established a charitable foundation in her honour, which has awarded grants to more than 100 nonprofits worldwide, delivering life-changing care to hundreds of thousands of women and girls. More than eight million have watched her TED Talks on leading a passionate life.
She has received fifteen honorary doctorates, including one from Harvard University, was inducted into the California Hall of Fame, received the PEN Center Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2014, President Barack Obama awarded Allende the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honour, and in 2018 she received the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters from the National Book Foundation. She lives in California. Her website is IsabelAllende.com.
Adapter Caridad Svich is a playwright and lyricist who received the 2012 OBIE for Lifetime Achievement, and the 2011 American Theatre Critics Association Prize for The House of the Spirits. Her plays and lyrics, in English and Spanish, have been seen across the US, Latin America, and in Europe. In the UK, she has worked with the Royal Court, Traverse Theatre, Hackney Empire, Actors Touring Company, Camden People’s Theatre, Chaskis Theatre, Signdance Collective, among others, and has been Visiting Research Fellow at Central School of Speech and Drama. She is published by Methuen Drama, Intellect UK, Routledge, Manchester University Press, and TCG. Her first opera Bernarda Alba, based on Lorca, composed by Griffin Candey, premieres in 2020, and her first feature film Fugitive Dreams is in post-production. Her website is at www.caridadsvich.com.
Director Paula Paz, a former professional ballet dancer, is the co-founder and associate director of the Cervantes Theatre in London and the Spanish Theatre Company. She holds an MA with Distinction in Theatre Directing from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and she began her career as a professional Ballet Dancer with companies such as Angel Corella Ballet, Maria Gimenez Ballet and Ballet Ireland.
At the Cervantes Theatre, she has directed Darwin’s Tortoise by Juan Mayorga, The Swallow by Guillem Clua, The Little Pony by Paco Bezerra and Ay, Carmela! by José Sanchis Sinisterra; as well as an array of dramatized readings and two rapid productions. Other directing credits include Knives in Hens by David Harrower at the KC Theatre; Sebastián Junyent’s dramatised reading It is Necessary to Take Apart the House at the White Bear Theatre; History of a Staircase by Buero Vallejo at Canada Water Culture Space and Eigengrau by Penelope Skinner at Mountview.
The House of the Spirits (La Casa de los Espiritus) runs from 28 October to 30 November 2019 at the Cervantes Theatre, Arch 26, Old Union Arches, 229 Union Street, London SE1 0LR, with 7.30pm performances, in Spanish Mondays to Wednesdays, in English on Thursdays to Saturdays. Tickets priced £17.50-£25. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!