¡Buenas Noticias!: New Funding for Future Diversifying the Classics Projects
As a small operation with big plans, the Diversifying the Classics initiative depends on support from organizations in line with our mission of promoting Hispanic classical theater through translation, performance, and an ongoing series of public-facing events. We are thus delighted to announce that, with the help of three new grants, we will be able to offer exciting new works at the 2024 LA Escena, the first festival of the comedia tradition in Los Angeles, and continue to expand our “Library of Translated Hispanic Classical Plays,” offered free of charge on our website and published with Juan de la Cuesta Press. The new funds that will help us continue this work incude a major award from Alianza-MX (the University of California unit that supports collaborations with Mexico); a Hispanex grant from the Spanish government; and a recurring grant from Pine Tree Foundation, a key supporter of Diversifying the Classics and the graduate students involved in producing translations, performance initiatives, and public outreach.
The Alianza-MX grant will support collaborations with artists in Mexico, including commissioned adaptations for the stage and for school-age readers, as well as graduate student stipends. We plan to expand our promotion of Hispanic culture and creativity with MEX-Clásicos, a collaboration with Mexican theater artists at the cutting edge of dramaturgical experimentation. Decentering the Anglophone classical theater traditions that pervade the U.S. stage, MEX-Clásicos will expand on our Golden Tongues initiative, which commissions English adaptations of Hispanic classics by L.A.-based playwrights. With MEX-Clásicos, we will produce Spanish-language theatrical adaptations and picture-book versions of comedia for children through collaboration with some of the most exciting playwrights working in Mexico today. We have already secured collaborations with Juan Carrillo of the Los Colochos company and playwright-screenwriter David Gaitán, who has previously adapted Shakespeare and classical Greek drama, as well as the Colectivo Mulas Teatro, whose devised work reimagines the last days of Erauso. These adaptations will be performed at LA Escena 2024, the biennial Diversifying the Classics Hispanic theater festival, as well as the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), in concert with scholarly conferences at both locations.
The Hispanex grant will likewise serve to make the 2024 LA Escena a true celebration of Hispanic Classical Theater. With the support of this grant, Diversifying the Classics will commission a new adaptation from the Madrid-based theater company GRUMELOT. The work of GRUMELOT draws from classical traditions but brings an innovative and challenging dramaturgy to their creations, pushing the limits of what theater can be. They are prized long-term collaborators of Diversifying the Classics. The company participated in the 2020 virtual LA Escena, making from the ostensible limitations of the COVID pandemic new inroads into the opportunities that online theater may afford for artists and audiences alike. During the summer of 2022, Barbara Fuchs and a group of DTC graduate students traveled to London to participate in a conference on humor in the comedia, which culminated in GRUMELOT’s intriguing performance of an adaptation of the entremés “Los mirones.”
While LA Escena and other performance-related events offer exciting representations of our work at Diversifying the Classics, the foundation of that work is in our annual translations, and the collaboration with the Pine Tree Foundation makes that possible by providing summer stipends to graduate students who are working on our expanding “Library of Translated Classical Hispanic Plays.” This summer support from the Pine Tree Foundation will allow graduate students to edit and annotate the text translated the previous year and write an introduction aimed at theater practitioners. The translated and edited plays will then be posted on our website and subsequently published by Juan de la Cuesta press as part of the “Comedia in Translation and Performance” series. The next play in our lineup is Lope de Vega’s El animal de Hungría (working title The Beast of Hungary), which was one of three plays adapted in the Golden Tongues series for the 2022 LA Escena festival. Not quite a comedy, but not quite a tragedy, this fascinating work deals with nature versus nurture, the tension between and instinct, and the construction of monstrosity as a social concept.
It is a joy to be able to announce this good news. Thank you to Alianza-MX, the Spanish government, and the Pine Tree Foundation. Gracias as well to all of you out there who help us continue to translate and produce vibrant works of theater that extend our mission of diversifying the classics.