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LA ESCENA: THE COMEDIA IN PERFORMANCE
Bringing Hispanic classical theater to audiences in LA and beyond
Adaptation and its challenges
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:
The Blade of Jealousy
By Henry Ong
Directed by Denise Blasor
Odyssey Theater
August 2016
Whitefire Theater
Jun-Aug 2018
Unhappily Married in Valencia
By Laurel Ollstein
Directed by Robert Walsh
New Jersey Repertory Company
May 2017
Gloucester Stage Company
May 2018
Fixed
By Boni B. Alvarez
Directed by Rodney To
Echo Theater Company
Atwater Village Theater
Los Angeles
Sep-Oct 2017
Painting in Red
By Luis Alfaro
Directed by Jon Lawrence Rivera
Greenway Court Theater
Oct-Nov 2014

 

The Comedia in Performance

 

 

To offer annual staged readings of our translations of Hispanic classical theater, we work in close collaboration as dramaturges with UCLA’s Theater Department. Since Fall 2015, MFA students in acting and directing under the direction of Michael Hackett have performed staged readings of the comedia to university and LA audiences.We have also hosted workshops on verse in classical Hispanic theater, and welcomed the Madrid-based Fundación Siglo de Oro’s Entre Marta y Lope in Fall 2014. 

 

In summer 2018, we celebrated our inaugural three-day festival of Hispanic classical theater with works written by or adapted from Golden Age playwrights like Lope de Vega, Cervantes, and María de Zayas. The festival included performances and adaptations by local actors and directors, MFA students from UCLA, and the Mexican company EFE Tres.