One of the challenges of adaptation–or perhaps its virtue–is the extent to which it can both open up the original text in exciting ways, while also, at the same time, leaving it entirely “in the wings” for a majority of its audiences. In our case, dramaturgy sets out to fill that gap, pointing people towards the original and ideally encouraging more of them to read it. Yet despite our strong allegiance to early modern studies we resist the suggestion that the return to the source is in any way the only valid outcome of this exercise: if the playwright is alerted to the corpus, if the audience is primed for a later, more direct experience of it, and if, quite simply but also marvelously, a new play is born, something important has been achieved.
At UCLA’s Clark Library and elsewhere, and in collaboration with Playwrights’ Arena, we have offered three festivals of adaptations of classical Hispanic plays by Los Angeles playwrights, presented in staged readings. Luis Alfaro’s Painting in Red, based on Calderón’s El pintor de su deshonra, which was presented in our first season, went on to a commercial production in Fall 2014. Other commercial productions from this series include: