Coming Soon: 90 Monologues from Classical Spanish Theatre
While Shakespeare’s name is widely recognized, few outside of Spanish-speaking countries or the world of academic Hispanism are familiar with his Spanish near-contemporaries Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina, and Pedro Calderón de la Barca. Yet many dimensions of Shakespeare’s plays (lovers’ struggles, mistaken identities, complex plots, witty servants, but also isolation, death, social and moral downfalls) appear also in Spain’s theatrical Golden Age, the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which includes plays as compelling and rich as those by the British playwright. 90 Monologues from Classical Spanish Theatre features excerpts of plays written by both Spain’s best-known classical playwrights, and less familiar writers such as Guillén de Castro and Juan Ruiz de Alarcón, as well as the protofeminist nun and intellectual from New Spain (modern-day Mexico), Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz.
The book of monologues, forthcoming from Juan de la Cuesta in summer 2018, is part of Diversifying the Classics, a multi-pronged initiative directed by Barbara Fuchs at UCLA that aims at fostering awareness and appreciation of Hispanic classical theater among actors, students, academics, and theatregoers alike. The primary aim of this bilingual facing-page anthology is to offer material for actors who are interested in expanding beyond the traditional Shakespearean corpus, while also opening the doors to an immensely rich and relatively unexplored body of work.
The anthology includes a variety of excerpts ranging from comic to tragic, and featuring a number of different characters: kings and peasants, adolescents and elders, fathers, lovers, and buffoons. 90 Monologues from Classical Spanish Theatre also offers many monologues written for and about women, as they address issues that are as personal as they are universal—love, marriage, self-respect, jealousy, and intellectual equality among others. While in Elizabethan and Jacobean England female roles were played by boys or young men, in Golden Age Spain those roles were played by women, which impacted the plays and monologues written for them. Famous examples include the speech by Laurencia, the young peasant heroine of Lope de Vega’s Fuente Ovejuna, who vividly describes her kidnapping and berates the village men for their cowardice, and one by Hipólita, the young protagonist of Guillén de Castro’s The Force of Habit, who says goodbye to her sword after living as a man for twenty years.
Golden Age playwrights created immortal characters whose lives and psychologies resonate far beyond their time and to the present day. Their monologues are malleable and versatile, while the translations, though faithful to the original, steer clear of anachronisms and reflect the lightness of spoken English, bringing the characters and themes home for modern-day actors and audiences. 90 Monologues from Classical Spanish Theatre will provide today’s actors, students, and theatergoers with a compelling reason to look beyond Shakespeare as they explore the work of extraordinary Hispanic playwrights who have been in the shadows for far too long.
Jennifer L. Monti