‘House of Desires’ sneak peek changes perception of classic plays

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The BYU Theatre Department performed a sneak-peak of their new play “House of Desires” in the Museum of Art last Friday to pique interest in Sor Juana Ines De La Cruz’s play and the Spain and the Hispanic World exhibit.

De Las Cruz wrote “House of Desires” in the late 1600s during the Golden Age of Spanish Theatre. The tale centers around two couples who want to be together despite frequent misunderstandings.

Dramaturge Shelley Graham said despite expectations of classic era theatre, the play is very humorous.

“You might expect that some theatre from the classic period, or from women in really tight corsets and rigid costumes might be a bit stuffy, but as soon as you get into the world you discover these are women who are playing the world,” Graham said.

For example, Daniel Summerstay, who plays Castaño, uses physical comedy throughout the play.

“I do a reverse strip tease at the beginning of the third act, so I think that’s a good selling point,” Summserstay said.

Devoree Ellis, or as she is known in the play, Doña Ana, explains De La Cruz’s play frequently breaks the fourth wall so the actors can interact with the audience.

“This is so much to people (in the audience) that it’s like amazing,” Ellis said. “It’s like the whole audience is in on an inside joke.”

Audience members will also see a classic swordfight, but completely in the dark.

“Watching the swordfight and the characters miss someone’s nose or swipe just by a women’s dress is exciting and funny too,” Graham said.

Actor Thomas Jenson explained De La Cruz left a lot of opportunities for actor creativity, like writing lyrics to songs but not including the music. He uses that space to belt out lyrics, adding to the comedy of the play.

“I take it all the way home, Jenson said. “I go full bad opera.”

The play will premiere at BYU West Campus on March 15 and run until March 30.

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