Produce This! New - Diversifying the Classics
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PRODUCING THE COMEDIA

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 peers from across the Atlantic, Mexicans Juan Ruiz de Alarcón and Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, 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 audiences still relished cross-dressing plots.

Our translations aim above all for language that will work for actors and allow them to shine. We have tested our playtexts both in our workshop, which is regularly attended by practitioners, and in staged readings by Chalk Repertory Theatre, New York Classical Theatre, Red Bull Theatre, the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, and the UCLA Department of Theater. Productions for each play, including by the Guthrie, Miami New Drama, and various schools and universities, are listed below.

Each translation includes a dramaturgical introduction and brief annotations. We offer short videos of scenes, and dramaturgy packets are available for each play.

We are also available to supply additional support for productions as necessary, including creating a bilingual script, and to translate or adapt any play not on the list below. Please contact Barbara Fuchs at fuchsbar@humnet.ucla.edu for further information.

Don Quixote by Guillén de Castro

Based on the same episode of Cervantes’s novel as the lost Fletcher/Shakespeare work Cardenio, Guillén’s version is an over-the-top tale of love and deception, ranging from absurdist comedy to telenovela machinations. Cardenio loves Lucinda, who is also pursued by Cardenio’s master, the Marqués Fernando, whom Lucinda wants nothing to do with. Dorotea, previously seduced and abandoned by Fernando, teams up with Cardenio so they can both regain their former lovers. The drama is punctuated with the mad fits of Don Quixote, who imitates the knights of ages past and declaims in faux medieval tones, both amusing and alarming the barber, the priest, and the squire.

Substantial roles: 4 male, 2 female.

Staged reading by UCI’s Brown Bag Players, Fall 2023.

The Pretender, or A Man Beside Himself by Ruiz de Alarcón

The question posed by this play is as poignant today as it was 400 years ago: what actually makes us “us”, and what makes “them” something different? Can a man determined to test the fidelity of his beloved pass for another by simply changing his name? Set in the heyday of a world-wide and multi-cultural Spanish Empire, Alarcón’s play explores how love and jealousy operate in a radically expanded world, where identity seems newly set adrift.

Substantial roles: 4 male, 3 female.

Love is the Greater Labyrinth, by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz
A madcap take on Greek mythology by famous Mexican author Sor Juana. Swashbuckling adventure, romantic farce, and sly political fable all rolled into one, the play follows Teseo (Theseus) as he goes to meet his fate in the jaws of the monstrous Minotaur. Little does he know that his greatest test will come when he escapes one labyrinth and heads straight into the even more disorienting complications of love. Princesses Fedra and Ariadna pull him in two different directions—which path will he choose? 
Substantial roles: 8 male, 4 female. 
Staged reading by Red Bull Theater (dir. Melia Bensussen, 2021).
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The Courage to Right a Woman’s Wrongs  by Ana Caro

What if Don Juan had to face the woman he ghosted? And what if she were transformed into a sword-wielding, powerful opponent? When Leonor decides to become Leonardo and follow her fickle sometime lover to Brussels, she earns the love of ladies and the admiration of all, using her wits as deftly as her sword. As the servant Ribete notes, this world is stranger than any play, but Leonor’s courage will set things to rights.

Substantial roles: 5 male, 4 female. 

Staged readings by UCLA’s Theater MFA program (dir. Michael Hackett, 2019), Red Bull Theater (dir. Melia Bensussen, 2020), Stratford Theater Festival (dir. Miriam Fernandes, 2021), Bay Area Women’s Theater Festival (dir. Dawn Monique Williams, 2022). Productions by Winthrop University (dir.  Matt Ferrell, 2021), the Guthrie Theater (dir. Maija García, 2022), Miami New Drama (dir. Peter Romano, 2022), Polaris Theater Company (dir. Dawn Monique Williams, 2022), Skidmore College (2023), Bowdoin College (2024).

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To Love Beyond Death by Calderón de la Barca
To Love Beyond Death dramatizes the moment when ethnic, religious, and cultural differences turned Spanish subjects against one another in the 1560’s Rebellion of the Alpujarra. When the Crown attempts to eradicate Andalusi culture from Spain, the Moriscos–Muslims forcibly converted to Christianity, as well as their descendants–are put into an impossible position, and turn to armed resistance. The tragic story of the Morisco Tuzaní’s search for revenge after the death of his beloved Clara is as much about love and devotion as it is about civil war, and the violent emergence of a modern nation. 
The play has 15 roles: 4 female, 10 male, and 1 gender neutral. 
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A Wild Night in Toledo by Lope de Vega
Shifting love triangles, comic hijinks, betrayal and deceptions–is this really a single, unforgettable night in Toledo?
Abandoned and irate, Lisena has come to Toledo to seek her lover, Florencio, who fled to Granada after wounding a rival. In Toledo, they encounter soldiers on the make, dubious ladies, thwarted lovers, and other surprises. Under the cover of darkness and disguise, the characters use ingenuity and humor to test whether they can rewrite their destinies along with their identities. 
The play has 19 roles: 3 female, 11 male, and 5 gender neutral. Some roles may be doubled. 
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What We Owe Our Lies by Ruiz de Alarcón
In this fast-paced drama, lovers plot to achieve their desires while the dictates of honor conflict with the calls of the heart.
Leonor and Teodora occupy different floors in the same Madrid apartment building. Leonor is to marry Teodora’s brother, while Teodora marries Leonor’s. But both women reject their arranged marriages as they find themselves falling for Don Diego de Luna, the dashing stranger who strolls the street below them.
The play has 12 roles: 4 female, 5 male, and 3 gender neutral.
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The Widow of Valencia by Lope de Vega
How might a young widow satisfy her desires and still preserve her dignity?
The wealthy and beautiful widow Leonarda defies society by refusing remarriage or even the company of men. Yet her feelings change after a few glances shared with a young gallant in church. Her reawakened passion soon leads to a masked affair. In a balancing act of visibility and invisibility, disguise offers the rewards of pleasure without risk. 
Leonarda’s brilliant transgressions in the service of her desire play out against a carnivalesque Valencian backdrop. In a city transformed, the line between lust and property, liberty and constraint, feels as thin as a veil. 
The play has 15 roles: 3 female, 7 male, and 5 gender neutral.
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The Force of Habit by Guillén de Castro
A brother and a sister separated at birth: Félix brought up by his mother to speak softly, fear thunder, and sew with the women of the house; and Hipólita, raised with her father in a war zone to wield a sword like a soldier. When the family is reunited, the father insists on making the siblings conform to traditional gender roles. While Félix teaches his sister how to wear high heels, Hipólita shows him how to use a weapon, questions of gender are complicated by the power of desire. 
The play has 16 roles: 8 male, 4 female, and 4 gender neutral. 
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Unhappily Married in Valencia by Guillén de Castro
Not all courtships end happily ever after.
In this biting comedy, innuendo, accusations, and revenge steal the show as a cross-dressed mistress merrily manipulates and discovers in the process how marriage actually works. 
Two couples, Ipólita and Don Álvaro and Eugenia and Valerián, are disillusioned with their respective marriages and try to realize their fantasies of a better match. Eugenia heats up the stage in her effort to seduce Don Álvaro, unaware that her husband Valerián is in pursuit of his friend’s wife, Ipólita. Don Álvaro brings his mistress Elvira into the home he shares with his long-suffering–and to him insufferable–wife, Ipólita. But Elvira’s presence only makes it impossible for anyone to deny any longer what they have long known about their marriages. 
The play has 15 roles: 3 female, 5 male, and 7 gender neutral. Some roles may be doubled. 
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Women and Servants by Lope de Vega
Sometimes marrying the one you love requires outsmarting fathers and masters.
Luciana and Violanta, daughters of the gentleman Florencio, are in love with Teodoro and Claridán, secretary and valet, respectively, to Count Próspero. As the play opens, the Count decides to pursue Luciana. At the same time, Florencio’s friend Emiliano proposes that Violanta marries his eligible son, Don Pedro.
The sisters refuse these matches and manipulate the action to favor instead the men they love. Violanta uses her wit to demolish Don Pedro’s pretensions, while Leonarda concocts an elaborate plot that entangles everyone, as the sisters show that they are more than capable of manipulating the action to get their way.
The play has 12 roles: 3 female, 7 male, and 2 gender neutral. 
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