Last Friday night, the Studio Theatre hosted the opening performance of Frederico García Lorca’s “The House of Bernarda Alba,” one of two main-stage theatre shows put on by the Dept. of Theater and Dance this spring.

Directed by UCSB graduate student Jason Narvy, this show brings the audience into an austere, utilitarian world. Bernarda Alba imprisons her daughters in a house of mourning with an eight year sentence, but before very long, the struggle for power and a growing desire for freedom from tyranny brings out the tyrant in every member of the family. Longing, jealousy, and love struggle more and more to break free from the constraints of tradition the longer Bernarda keeps her daughters locked away.

“Personally, artistically speaking, I wanted to do something that was both domestic and epic,” Narvy said. “This [play] is always considered to be one of [Lorca’s] realistic rural dramas. That was very appealing to me: realism, poetry.”

The Studio Theatre, a venue not typically used for main-stage productions, caters to the needs of this show very nicely. The intimacy of the space gives the audience a sense that they are not just witness to the events on stage, but that they are another inmate in Bernarda Alba’s prison-like setting.

“The great thing about the Studio Theatre is that it looks and feels utilitarian. Those big doors are the thing, when I read the script, where I said, ‘Wow, we can really do the show justice!’” Narvy said, referring to the heavy, floor to ceiling loading doors at the back of the theater. “I do want [the audience] to get the sense that they are trapped in the drama that’s unfolding.”

Although using the Studio Theatre is primarily a result of the renovation of the Hatlen Theater, Narvy considers it a blessing in disguise, especially for the actors on stage.

“I like the studio space because the focus is supposed to be on the acting and the actors. You can only do so much technical wizardry. That was very liberating for us,” Narvy said.

Indeed that is the case with this show. Using little more than chairs, tables, and what this talented cast brings to each performance, the world of the play comes alive.

“There was a real impetus to get our actors on this stage where they can just focus on the craft in a forum that privileges the bare-bones production — raw, unadulterated acting — and suggests that presenting these things is not a compromise but rather a goal,” Narvy said. “It suggests that this is a purer form of the art, not compromised because of budget or anything else like that.”

“The House of Bernarda Alba” runs through Saturday with shows at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Seating is first come, first serve. Tickets are available at, and are $13 for students and faculty, $17 for general admission.