Diversifying the Classics: Suggestions for Production
In our experience working on translations and adaptations in Los Angeles, we have found that theater practitioners are both surprised and delighted by what the comedia has to offer. From Lope de Vega and Guillén de Castro to their distinguished peer from across the Atlantic, the Mexican Juan Ruiz de Alarcón, the corpus has a great deal to offer those who want to venture beyond Shakespeare to imagine a more diverse repertoire.
Comedias were plays for the people: performances took place in open-air theaters, where audiences of all classes and both sexes commingled. At the same time, the works are sophisticated dramas, offering pointed reflections on the constructed nature of class and gender as well as the performativity of social roles, issues that resonate with audiences today. The comedia offers fantastic roles for women, many of them written for famous actresses in the period—unlike in Elizabethan England, in Spain there were women on stage, although they still relished cross-dressing plots.
We aim above all for language that will work for actors and allow them to shine. We have tested our translations both in our workshop, which is regularly attended by practitioners, and in staged readings by Chalk Repertory Theatre and the UCLA Department of Theater. Our translations include dramaturgical introductions and annotations. We are also available to supply additional support for productions as necessary, and to translate or adapt any play not on the list below. Please contact Barbara Fuchs at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information, or follow our work at http://diversifyingtheclassics.humanities.ucla.edu/
Professor Michael Hackett and first-year students in the MFA Acting and Directing Programs, Department of Theater, UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, in a staged reading of Lope de Vega’s A Wild Night in Toledo, translated by The Comedia in Translation and Performance working group directed by Barbara Fuchs.
Photographer: Reed Hutchinson