The Repertorio Espanol presented its first play of the 5th edition of the Van Lier Director’s fellowship sponsored by The New York Community Trust. The first of three plays developed in the Siglo de Oro Festival, we were exposed to a Spanish Classic, the zarzuela. The play called “El Laurel de Apolo” was directed by Estefania Fadul.
Fadul was one of three under 30 directors who are required to direct a play in Spanish. It’s especially tricky when you are directing an old style play called the zarzuela that has not been seen here and may or may not translate. But to Estefania it is important to be revisited. “It’s fascinating because it’s one of the first ever of this form of this genre.” Fadul explains,
“A form of Spanish opera taken from Italian opera. It’s kind of like musicals in this way because there is spoken dialogue scenes and musical scenes.”
The play was written in 1857 during the birth of a new Spanish Prince during a period of strife but Fadul sees common themes that many will recognize today. “It was written as a new hope or celebration, a new beginning for Spain.” Fadul informed.
“There are a lot of themes that are still relevant, we updated a lot of the music so it’s still fun for people today as it was for people then.”
Estefania has lived a life of contrasts being born in Colombia, raised in the State of New Hampshire, and now in New York City. Her experiences have aided her in the body of her work which is varied and prominent since her early years. “I would put on plays for my cousins.” Fadul shares,
“It’s always been about stories and storytelling, and telling new perspectives as always been important to me.
It’s been partly influenced by having so many places for me to pull from.”
The Van Liers have been important to young directors like Estefania. By giving the necessary financial support to directors, a rare thing in this industry, Fadul can show her work on a historical stage such as the Repertorio Espanol. “They were the first to say here’s some money, go on and put on this show.” Fadul recalled,
“It’s an incredible opportunity to be able to practice with things that I wanted to try in an environment that feels very safe.”
It also helps when like-minded individuals look at the bigger picture to advance the means. Such was the case of Fadul and the other two directors, Victoria Collado and Diego Chiri, which make up the Van Lier fellowship this year, “We decided to pull together as a festival of Spanish golden age plays.” Fadul explained,
“What’s great is getting everyone into this as a festival and having the support of other directors is crucial.”
The Donald Trump effect has brought responses from all walks of life and the theater traditionally has usually led the march against moral attacks and most often are the voice of the people in general but artistically presented in clever forms. “Doing things like this, with a strong group of Latino actors and creative team members and a few who are not Latino and putting them into this environment where we are in a Spanish speaking theater and play, shows that its very universal.” Fadul shares,
“It’s not about putting people to the side and marginalizing them.”
The role of a director in movies are very noticeable. They can cut and shape from scene to scene, line for line. However in live plays, the impact a director has is harder to view. Fadul tells us where we should look.
“I see my role as a director is to create a process that gives actors and designers and everyone the tools to do the work they need to do.”
“It starts months before anyone else comes aboard with analyzing scripts, thinking how its relevant today, and come up with a concept and central ideas we want to get across.”
It’s a inter working of director with talent that allows the flow of expression that will be seen in the finished product. From the first rehearsal to the performance, Estefania is the conductor that allows the current to flow everywhere.
“All the work we do is layering different things on top of each other so they have the foundation for their performance to grow.”
Estefania points out.
All directors dream of the ultimate play or maybe even television or big screen projects. But for Fadul, though she is interested in seeing where things may lead, her first love is the theater. “I hope to do this all my life.” Fadul explained,
“I have done some film in the past and would like to get back into it on a larger scale. But right now my energy is very much focused on theater.”
Estefania Fadul sees herself as “creative.” It’s the central theme of her expressions in theater. She is quite a busy woman which various projects in the works in 2015. The fall will be filled with her fellowship with the drama league directors project. “That’s really exciting” and directing a show in a college upstate in the spring. “The first professional gig I have.” She laughs.
Fadul knows she is a rare breed but she feels that women should view her and know what’s possible and never limit themselves. It may be the most important impact Estefania ultimately brings to Latino directors of the future.
“I think the biggest thing is to never let anyone tell you no.”
Fadul expressed, “If you know that its what you were meant to be doing then continue forth in it and it will get done.”