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Department Of Theatre And Media Arts

Love vs. Desire: The Department of Theatre & Media Arts Brings the Spanish Golden Age to the Stage

Theatre & Media Arts Production of “The House of Desires” Opens March 15

“The House of Desires” takes a look at timeless concerns about unrequited and mutual love in a romantic comedy from the Spanish Golden Age. The Department of Theatre and Media Arts (TMA) brings to life five smitten characters, comic servants and villainous relatives exploring the miraculous machinations that make love work.

Ellie Mellen, Thomas Jenson, Devoree Ellis, and Austin Zimmerman Explore Love's Mysterious Machinations in "House of Desires"
Photo by Donovan Kelly/BYU Photo

Adam Houghton, associate professor in the BFA Acting program, is excited about the parallels behind this play and modern life.“The characters are young men and women who are asking the same kinds of questions BYU students ask: Who can I love? Who can I trust? Who can I commit myself to?” said Houghton, who’s directing the play.

This love story is ironically written by a Mexican nun, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, and adapted by Catherine Boyle. De la Cruz wrote the play for an archbishop’s appointment in Mexico—known as New Spain—but takes place in Toledo, Spain. The playwright is thought by some to be the most brilliant mind of her time and place and she even had suitors before joining a convent, according to Houghton. He said that though it’s a comedic play, it has more at stake than what is strictly thought of as farce—and it has characters who care about noble behavior.

“The play is not overtly religious,” Houghton said. However, a lot of the characters are concerned about honorable character and what it means to be noble. “The play is more classist than we are comfortable with today,” Houghton said, “but there is unique resonance with local culture, which values living in an honorable way. We believe we are of noble birthright and think about similar issues.”

Audiences can enjoy meticulous attention to symbolism in set design, an outstanding example of period costume design, and character-driven fight choreography throughout the performances in March. Houghton said the set incorporates thoughtful incorporation of pomegranates and flowers that is “well-executed” due to the”wonderful collaboration between faculty and students.” He also said the costume designers’ attention to period detail is an “outstanding example” of the department’s work. The actors manage a remarkable juxtaposition of restrictive corsets and unbridled passion, “grappling with all the same ups and downs students feel today,” he said. Hunter Aro, a student graduating this April, says he choreographed “a lot of storytelling with fighting,” and the fight scenes are unique in that there’s a scene in the dark, when characters fight without being able to see as well as a more traditional scene in which they can.

There will be post-show discussions after the evening shows on March 21 and 28. After the matinee showing on March 30, Professor Valerie Hegstrom, expert in Spanish Golden Age theatre, feminist writers and Sor Juana, will hold a scholarly conversation. The March 28 show will include an ASL interpretation.

Tickets and Show Details:

Date & Time: March 15–16, 19–23, 26–30 | 7:30 p.m. March 16, 23, 30 | 2:00 p.m.
Location: Studio Theatre- West Campus
Price: $15-18
Tickets: Available online a BYU Tickets

This production is suitable for children young and old but intended for ages 12 and up. We know that you know your children best and trust your judgment when planning attendance for your family.