Dan Ostling makes his Lookingglass directorial debut with ‘Blood Wedding’
More often than not, weddings portrayed onstage and in film— from Shakespeare to “Bridesmaids”— are played for laughs. But not all nuptials end well and, in the theater, there’s arguably no I-thee-wed show that descends to disaster so darkly as Federico García Lorca’s “BloodWedding.” First performed in 1933, the poet’s unsettling drama gets a fresh iteration at Lookingglass Theatre under the direction of ensemble member Dan Ostling.
A study in stifling duty and love denied, the play depicts the rapid disintegration of a rustic couple’s union. There’s a shadow over the proceedings from the start, as the groom’s domineering mother, whose husband died young and whose other son was murdered, bemoans the upcoming loss of her remaining child.
“I first read ‘BloodWedding’ in 1998 and fell in love with it,” Ostling says. “The way it grapples with longing — for union with someone else, for belonging, for a spiritual consummation. This unquenchable thirst to find a missing part of ourselves is a universal human experience.”
“This unquenchable thirst to find a missing part of ourselves is a universal human experience.”
—Director Dan Ostling
primary occupation is scenic design. At Lookingglass, he’s set the look of dozens of shows, from “Metamorphoses” to “Title and Deed.” But ever since helming a production at New Jersey’s Two River Theater in 2011, he’s been looking to direct again. “I absolutely loved that experience and was eager to direct again, but at Lookingglass, my artistic home,” Ostling says. He ran the idea of “BloodWedding” by his colleagues and, with their encouragement, mounted a workshop production. His effort impressed and the project got the green light.
Ostling is both director and designer for “BloodWedding,” leading us to wonder how he manages to wear both hats. “I rarely see a set when I begin working,” he says. “I tend to pay attention to what moments stand out as particularly moving or disturbing or beautiful, and how the overall arc of a piece affects me. With ‘BloodWedding,’ I found the characters and the circumstances clearer to me than the set for a long time. Lorca was a musician, poet, playwright, director, designer, painter. He had an insatiable desire to create using all the tools at his disposal. I find that integration of elements into a single act of storytelling inspiring. And I have always shared that thirst to tell a story using more than just one discipline.”