Headed to Pittsburgh this summer?
Lake Highlands High School 2013 graduate Isabel Pask stars in Quantum Theatre’s production of Peribanez, performed outdoors August 5-28 in Mellon Park. The Spanish Golden Age play, written in the early 17th century by Lope de Vega, includes music, dancing and lush Spanish-inspired costumes.
“Most people immediately think of Shakespeare when classical theatre is brought up – which is wonderful,” Pask shared by email between rehearsals, “but there were so many incredible works written by his contemporaries in different parts of the world. We get to tell a really important story that still feels relevant today, and is rarely produced, with a talented and diverse group of artists, and I feel really blessed to be a part of that.”
Peribanez is the story of a newly married couple, Peribanez and Casilda, played by Pask, who live in a strongly connected farming community. The Commander’s obsession with Casilda forces the couple to make painful sacrifices as they fight to stay together and prepare for a coming war.
Pask and 2 fellow students from Carnegie Mellon University are the youngest in the cast of ten.
“I love this play because its characters are extraordinary,” said Pask. “The language is vivid and beautiful, and when people feel things, they feel them really deeply. I feel like we lose a little bit of that in our everyday lives.
“I love our unique, diverse, wonderful cast; it is truly a celebration of unity and love to be part of such a group when so much hate has taken place in our world recently. I also love the company because they aren’t afraid to take risks – they put theatre up in places all around Pittsburgh – they find the best place to tell a story and they bring the play there.”
Quantum shows are produced in parks and venues all over the Pittsburgh area, but perfoming outdoors creates challenges.
“It is harder to be heard,” said Pask, “and the heat makes rehearsals a little more exhausting, but it offers a beautiful scenic backdrop for this particular play. Last year I worked in an outdoor theatre, as well, at a company called Santa Cruz Shakespeare in California. We performed in a redwood glen, so it was definitely different than Pittsburgh, but the magic of doing theatre outdoors is the same.”
Tickets are available online here, but be aware: it isn’t light-hearted fare for young children.
“There are some heavy themes in this play, which was written hundreds of years ago but still feels all too relevant. The play begins with a joy-filled wedding, but jealousy and the protection of one’s honor lead to things spiraling out of control (spoiler alert) and it concludes with rape and murder. Unfortunately, this is something we still deal with today, and holding this particular mirror up to humanity is not pretty and can be a difficult reality to portray again and again.”
And, with her student summer too busy to visit parents, Neil and Annalisa, and siblings Harrison and Claire, back home, what does Isabel miss most about LH?
“Tacos. Really good tacos. Also my family, who have done nothing but support my dreams.”