Besides the script and stage directions, the students are also learning how to use comedy to break the language barrier for the audience.
"El palco del real" takes place in Madrid in the living room of the dysfunctional Menéndez family.
“It’s like we’re in debt up to our eyeballs,” Alexander said of the fictional family.
Despite their economic struggles, the family gets an opportunity to go to an upper class opera house. The whole family is overwhelmed with excitement, but as they prepare to go out, they get interrupted by a string of uninvited guests.
Sophomore Kyle Futterman is playing the father in the Menéndez family.
Futterman said the greatest challenge wasn’t speaking Spanish or memorizing lines, but becoming his character.
“It’s been challenging to act as a father in his 40s or 50s and trying to let go of my teenage mannerisms,” Futterman said. “The father is a quite capricious character.”
Futterman said he found out about the play through the Dramatic Arts listserv, and because of his Spanish experience and high school theater classes, he decided to get involved.
In its production, the show was full of happy accidents like this.
Alexander said she tried to put on the show in the spring of 2017 but couldn’t find a full cast or a good space to perform. She said the first try was “experimental,” but that she accidentally found a way to pull the full show together this year.
This year, the cast consists of five undergraduate students and two faculty members and will be performed at the Hanes Art Center.
Alex Bejarano, who's been on stage in both high school and UNC productions, is the student director for the show. Bejarano was involved in the first attempt of the play and wanted to help with the current performance.
“It’s been a totally different experience than anything I’ve done before,” she said. “Even though I speak Spanish, this is my first time creating a piece of art in Spanish.”
Bejarano’s responsibilities range from analyzing the script, translating and interpreting jokes, to blocking the show, meaning she tells the actors where to stand on the stage.
She said she hopes it will become a tradition for the department to do Spanish theater.
“It would be great to see more Spanish theater,” Bejarano said. “This show especially helps you connect with other people and cultures.”
Everyone is welcome to come see the show, regardless of their Spanish-speaking experience.
Futterman said there will be programs outlining key points in the show, so everyone can understand what’s going on.
“There’s enough physicality involved that even beginning Spanish speakers will be able to laugh,” Alexander said.