Love In The Time Of Lorca
By Michael Martin
Lorca once described his artistic mission this way: 'I sought to express the struggle of reality with fantasy that exists within every human being.' Seen by the ascendant dictator Francisco Franco as an enemy, Lorca was executed in 1938, forced to dig his own grave. One of the soldiers bragged that he shot 'two bullets into his ass for being a queer.' But his influence lived on: Little Ashes is only the latest cultural artifact to draw inspiration from Lorca's work and life. Previous adapters and fans include playwright David Henry Hwang, who composed an opera about Lorca; Charles Bukowski, who referenced Lorca's life in his poetry; and the Clash and the Pogues, who name-dropped Lorca in their songs. Leonard Cohen, who set one of Lorca's poems to music, cited Lorca as his 'greatest influence' and named his daughter after him.
Like Little Ashes, Lorca's life story ends with a perpetual coda: speculation on what could have been. 'The tragedy is that he didn't get the chance to write the canon of work he had in him,' says Morrison. 'He could have written 20 more plays. I'm sure of it.'
For Javier Beltr'n, however, this is only the beginning. The Madrid native's debut in Spanish film came in 2008, when after appearing in student theater productions of Shakespeare and Harold Pinter, he was cast in Daniel Torres Santeugini's dramatic short El Paso. This year marks Beltr'n's triple big break: his lead in Ashes, a starring role in the Spanish television series Zoo, and a turn in the Spanish version of Alan Bennett's The History Boys, appearing as Stuart Dakin. 'I love movies, and I want to get back in front of a camera,' he says. 'My goal as an actor is to work until I get tired.'
He adds that he cultivated this passion playing Lorca in Little Ashes: 'To me, Lorca was a transgressive man, a distinctive man, a genius,' says Beltr'n. 'He was ahead of his time but humble. He never forgot where he came from and what he wanted for his people. The fact that he was killed is something the Spanish will never understand. He's an important figure because of the emotion in his words but also because he was a genuine man who loved life. I only hope I can live up to him.' n
Little Ashes opens May 8.