Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Remaking the Comedia

Remaking the Comedia: Spanish Classical Theater in Adaptation

Series: Monografías A
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 323
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Remaking the Comedia
    Book Description:

    This volume brings together twenty-six essays from the world's leading scholars and practitioners of Spanish Golden Age theatre. Examining the startlingly wide variety of ways that Spanish comedias have been adapted, re-envisioned, and reinvented, the book makes the case that adaptation is a crucial lens for understanding the performance history of the genre. The essays cover a wide range of topics, from the early stage history of the comedia through numerous modern and contemporary case studies, as well as the transformation of the comedia into other dramatic genres, such as films, musicals, puppetry, and opera. The essays themselves are brief and accessible to non-specialists. This book will appeal not only to Golden Age scholars and students but also to theater practitioners, as well as to anyone interested in the theory and practice of adaptation. Harley Erdman is Professor of Theater at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst Susan Paun de García is Professor of Spanish at Denison University. Contributors: Sergio Adillo Rufo, Karen Berman, Robert E. Bayliss, Laurence Boswell, Bruce R. Burningham, Amaya Curieses Irarte, Rick Davis, Harley Erdman, Susan L. Fischer, Charles Victor Ganelin, Francisco García Vicente, Alejandro González Puche, Valerie Hegstrom, Kathleen Jeffs, David Johnston, Gina Kaufmann, Catherine Larson, Donald R. Larson, Barbara Mujica, Susan Paun de García, Felipe B. Pedraza Jiménez, Veronika Ryjik, Jonathan Thacker, Laura L. Vidler, Duncan Wheeler, Amy Williamsen, Jason Yancey

    eISBN: 978-1-78204-498-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Performing Arts

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vii)
  3. Illustrations
    (pp. viii-ix)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. x-xvi)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xvii-xix)
  6. Note to the Reader
    (pp. xix-xix)
  7. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xx-xx)

    • 1 Terms and Concepts: The Adaptation of Classical Texts for the Stage
      (pp. 3-12)
      Catherine Larson

      Research in the area of Spanish early modern drama and theater has evolved in my professional lifetime from emphases on establishing reliable texts and discussing a play’s composition and authorship to close readings of plays and applications of the modern and postmodern theoretical approaches to literature that emerged in the last decades of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. In almost parallel fashion,Comediascholars have also developed ever-increasing interest and expertise in discussing the performance of classical texts. The foundational studies of researchers such as J. E. Varey, N. D. Shergold, José María Ruano de la Haza, John...

    • 2 “Los senderos que se bifurcan:” Adaptation, Appropriation, and the Proliferation of Possibilities
      (pp. 13-24)
      Catherine Larson

      Research in the area of Spanish early modern drama and theater has evolved in my professional lifetime from emphases on establishing reliable texts and discussing a play’s composition and authorship to close readings of plays and applications of the modern and postmodern theoretical approaches to literature that emerged in the last decades of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. In almost parallel fashion,Comediascholars have also developed ever-increasing interest and expertise in discussing the performance of classical texts. The foundational studies of researchers such as J. E. Varey, N. D. Shergold, José María Ruano de la Haza, John...

    • 3 Interpretative Directing Games for the Golden Age Repertory
      (pp. 25-32)
      Alejandro González Puche

      In Spain the theatrical canon has been perceived conservatively, constructed largely as illustrative, with few games and little playfulness in the distribution and understanding of characters. Directors and producers illustrate the period with a plethora of ruffs, pumpkin pants, and pastel colors. In contrast, in latin America there is a latent lack of interest in Golden Age plays. A season in Colombia has more productions of Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, and Molière than of any Spanish classical playwright, and the same happens in Mexico, Chile, and Argentina. We want to be latin American, and we prefer Anglo-Saxon, Russian, or French theater...

    • 4 Re-Make, Re-Mix, Re-Model
      (pp. 33-42)
      Laurence Boswell

      I began my relationship with the plays of the Spanish Golden Age thirty-two years ago, and we have been conducting a passionate affair in public and in private ever since. After putting these plays on stage for paying audiences, I have come to know that the best of them, if seen and respected for what they are, work as well in performance as any of the more established texts of the European classical repertory. I’ve learnt that these plays have a unique voice and form, that actors love bringing them to life in rehearsal and on stage, that audiences are...


    • 5 Refundición Redux: Revisiting the Rewritten Comedia
      (pp. 45-54)
      Charles Victor Ganelin

      The lively Siglo de Oro theatre festivals of Almagro, Spain, and El paso, Texas; Madrid’s Teatro de la Comedia; Washington, D.C.’s GAlA hispanic Theatre; New york City’s Repertorio Español; the theatre festivals of Stratford, Ontario and Stratford-upon-Avon: theatre companies and university theatre departments are today all engaged in a constantly evolving project of performing dramatic works from Europe’s first national theatre, theComedia. It is important to take note of these international theatrical efforts because for many years Spain’s “Golden Age” (or early modern, as one prefers) plays languished—in comparison to England’s ongoing celebration of Shakespeare—except in limited...

    • 6 Pepe Estruch and the Performance of Golden Age Drama: International Relationships under Franco and Democratic Theatrical Cultures
      (pp. 55-64)
      Duncan Wheeler

      A production ofLa vida es sueñostaged by helena pimenta—artistic director of the Compañía Nacional de Teatro Clásico (CNTC)—is fast staking its claim to being theComedia’s biggest commercial and critical success on the twenty-first-century Spanish stage. Having previously played Hamlet, Blanca portillo here tackles Golden Age theatre’s best-known troubled young man; in press interviews, the well-respected stage and screen actress recalled studying Calderón’s most canonical play with José (pepe) Estruch some three decades earlier.²

      Having learnt the art of theatre and pedagogy in the uk and uruguay, Estruch returned to Spain in 1967, where he dedicated...

    • 7 Thinking Globally, Acting Locally, and Performing Nationalism: Local, National, and Global Remakes of the Comedia
      (pp. 65-74)
      Robert E. Bayliss

      In an article titled “Can Cultural Studies Speak Spanish?” J. Mariscal laments how cultural studies limits its inquiry to the cultural production of the present and recent past only. Such “presentism” ignores the considerable activity surrounding the revival of “classical” cultural artefacts. Early moderncomediasplay a different role in contemporary cultures than does the original work of living playwrights, and in many ways a more complicated one. This essay will confront the inherent complexity of studying contemporary performances of early moderncomediasby addressing how they constitute a nexus of cultural, economic, and political concerns that operate simultaneously at...

    • 8 Four Decades of the Chamizal Siglo de Oro Drama Festival and the Evolution of Comedia Performance
      (pp. 75-82)
      Jason Yancey

      As the longest-running festival dedicated to Golden Age performance to date, the evolution of the Chamizal National Memorial’s annual Siglo de Oro drama Festival emerges as a study ofComediaadaptation in microcosm, reflecting shifting performance trends across the world and illustrating theComedia’s remarkable flexibility for twentieth-and twenty-first-century audiences. Not only has this unique gathering reconstructed a centuries-old theatrical tradition, it has paved the way for a future generation to reclaim and redesign traditional conventions, both visually and textually, in ways their Golden Age creators and contemporaries could never have imagined.

      One could argue that without the Chamizal festival...

    • 9 Early Modern Dramaturgas: A Contemporary Performance History
      (pp. 83-92)
      Valerie Hegstrom and Amy Williamsen

      More than fifteen years ago we allowed ourselves to imagine what we would like to see happen for our beloved early modern women dramatists writing in Spanish across the globe, including Spain, portugal, the Netherlands, and the Americas. We made an apparently impossible wish list—and an even longer, more detailed list of action items. One of our dreams seemed beyond our control: we wanted to see at least one of the female-authored plays on stage. We mentioned this desire to directors we met, we presented papers about it, we included the idea in books and articles. We worried about...

    • 10 Adapting Lope de Vega for the English-Speaking Stage
      (pp. 93-102)
      Jonathan Thacker

      In the first sonnet of hisRimas(1602–09), Lope de Vega personifies and apostrophizes his dear and once pristine poem(s), now ravaged and barely recognizable after constant manuscript copying and/or oral transmission. Lope employs in this context “metaphors for texts and textual production” that distance the author from his creation and so, according to the persuasive analysis of Tyler Fisher, “call into question the assumption of the author as principal meaningmaker” (77). Fisher goes on to explain that, where his poetry is concerned, Lope “leaves open the possibility of further change and disfigurement for the texts, rather than imposed...


    • 11 The Dog in the Manger: The Continuum of Transformation
      (pp. 105-116)
      David Johnston

      Translation remains subject to multiple abuse, not least in terms of reception and understanding, by readers and critics who see the act of translation as the re-creation of an invariant truth or truths contained within the textual boundaries of the original, and who therefore think of the product of that process as linked to the original through a paradigm of sameness. Equivalence is taken here at face value, with the result that any formal or semantic deviation is, at best, regarded as a necessary evil and, at worst, chastised as a wilful perversion. These observations may be considered a well-rehearsed...

    • 12 El caballero de Olmedo: Los Barracos’s Baroque Gentleman
      (pp. 117-122)
      Amaya Curieses Iriarte

      My history with Lorca goes back a long way. He has always captivated me, always given me pleasure, always taken me by surprise, and I have always used him as a reference point for my understanding of theater. And yet never in my thirty long years as a woman of the boards had I had the opportunity to put one of his best-known dramatic texts on its feet (though I’ve kept it on my night table as my own private bible).

      When I turned twelve, my uncle gave me as a gift the Aguilar edition of lorca’s complete works: three...

    • 13 Corpus Lorqui: Transformation and Transubstantiation in Los Barracos de Federico’s El caballero de Olmedo
      (pp. 123-132)
      Bruce R. Burningham

      Since his disappearance on the night of August 19, 1936, Federico García Lorca has undergone something of a hagiographic transformation. Luis Felipe Higuera Estremera notes that Lorca’s story has become something of a “Literary myth” (572), while Paul Julian Smith has described the cinematic representation of Lorca’s death in the 1987 television seriesLorca, muerte de un poetaas a “resonant and reverent fetishization” of the passion of Christ (111). Indeed, the hagiographies dedicated to Lorca’s memory represent an ever-enlarging corpus. One recent addition is Los Barracos de Federico’s production of Lope de Vega’sEl caballero de Olmedo, which premiered...

    • 14 The Phoenix of Madrid: Calderón’s No hay burlas con el amor Reborn in Bath
      (pp. 133-142)
      Kathleen Jeffs

      Though the Royal Shakespeare Company set a deliciously high standard for producingcomediason the British stage with their 2004–05 Spanish Golden Age season, since that time only a handful of major companies have risen to the challenge. laurence Boswell, the artistic director for that RSC season, has carried on his project to remake theComediafor British audiences, this time in his new role as the artistic director for the ustinov Studio in Bath. The first Golden Age play he translated and directed in Bath was Calderón’sNo hay burlas con el amor, reborn asThe Phoenix of...

    • 15 A Prince in Pittsburgh: “Recasting” a Contemporary Staging of The Constant Prince
      (pp. 143-154)
      Rick Davis

      This is a story ofrefundición por necesidad. All of us who love the drama of the Siglo de Oro and want to see it on Anglophone stages inevitably face challenges in finding hospitable venues. Considerations of form, style, theme, translation, and sheer scale (and within the friendly confines of this volume let’s not forget unfamiliarity) pose apparently insurmountable obstacles, based on the statistical paucity of Golden Age productions in the American theater and academy. So would-be directors of this great body of work must prepare for a non-linear journey between desire and fulfillment, beginning with an idea, progressing through...

    • 16 Directing Marta the Divine: Provocative Choices in the Service of the Story
      (pp. 155-166)
      Gina Kaufmann

      Diving into classical texts and exploring what makes them tick, then reconfiguring the storytelling in ways that surprise and intrigue a contemporary audience, has appealed to me since the early 1990s, when I adapted John Gay’sThe Beggar’s operafor a three-woman cast, narrowing the focus in order to make the already farcical social commentary as pointedly about gender roles as Gay’s original was about class distinctions. Since then, I have created radical adaptations ofThe Tempest,The Comedy of errors,Cocteau’s orphée,The Threepenny opera, and, most recently, a 1960s musical version ofTartuffe. So, when I was introduced...

    • 17 The Dramaturgy of Absence: Minding the Gaps in Tirso de Molina, Ana Caro, and Feliciana Enríquez
      (pp. 167-176)
      Harley Erdman

      All dramatic texts hold a tension between what is explicitly inscribed on the page and what, while absent, is nevertheless implied. While this tension derives from many factors, it is ultimately rooted in the dueling audiences to which theater scripts make their appeal. On the one hand, plays have in some fashion a literary function. They communicate to an imagined posterity (including directors, actors, etc.) the intentions and the authority of their creators at a time when the author is absent. On the other hand, scripts also document the circumstances of their original performances: what lines the actors said and...

    • 18 Translations and Transgressions: Twenty-First-Century Questions Regarding Zayas
      (pp. 177-188)
      Karen Berman

      I believe that as performing artists we translate and interpret the Spanish Golden Age according to our own twenty-first-century values. In approaching a Golden Age play, one cannot successfully create a museum piece that replicates how the play was performed in its time, but one must create a piece that speaks to the contemporary age. In addition to the practicalities of casting, blocking, character development, and rhythmically pacing the show, the director engages in a re-conceptualization through an understanding of the original cultural moment from which the play emerged and the current cultural moment with which the director is engaged....

    • 19 Comedia Actresses, Then and Now: The Case of Ana Caro’s Valor, agravio y mujer
      (pp. 189-196)
      Barbara Mujica

      An actress on theComediastage needed more than just a pretty face.Comediaactresses were serious professionals who mastered acting techniques and, because they had to memorize lengthy and complex scripts, learned to read at an early age.¹ Often their roles were physically demanding, requiring them to leap, run, climb, fence, and fly through the air on dangerous stage devices. Then, as now, the actress’s body was her instrument. An acting professional of either sex had to remain in excellent condition, as rehearsals and performances could be grueling. As the main draw for many productions, actresses were under particular...

    • 20 “Kinesthetic Empathy” and the Comedia refundición
      (pp. 197-208)
      Laura L.Vidler

      The 2011refundición of Porgy and Besscaused a major stir when heirs to the estates of George and Ira Gershwin and DuBose Heyward (lyrics) requested a Broadway-style adaptation of the trio’s original four-hour opera. The production team hired by the estates (comprising Diane Paulus, director; Suzan-Lori Parks, playwright; and Diedre L. Murray, composer) began to cut. Recitative became dialogue, major arias were eliminated, and the title was changed toThe Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess. Soprano Audra Mcdonald, Bess in the production, defended the changes, stating “I imagine Gershwin purists will have their arrows in their bows, ready to shoot”...


    • 21 Porous Boundaries: novela or comedia?
      (pp. 211-218)
      Susan Paun de García

      Adaptation has commonly been understood as an act of modifying, reworking, updating, re-envisioning, or re-interpreting a previously written text with the end purpose of performing a new version on the stage. however, the terms “adaptation” and “ remake” also suggest a change of genre, such as a transposition of a novel or story to a play or movie, or in the other direction, a “novelization” of a popular film or TV series. We might assume that this move between text and performance is a recent phenomenon, or that genre boundaries were more firmly established in the past. Of course, this...

    • 22 Lope de Vega and Lenfilm: The Dog in the Manger’s Cross-Cultural Journey
      (pp. 219-228)
      Veronika Ryjik

      The 1977 musical comedyThe dog in the manger, directed by yan Frid and produced by the prominent studio Lenfilm, is now considered a classic of Soviet cinema. The extraordinary success of this filmic version of Lope de Vega’s masterpiece can be attributed as much to the director and the stellar cast as to the music written by Gennady Gladkov, one of the country’s most sought-after film composers. A quick look at today’s Russian film forums serves to illustrate this point: “WhenThe dogis on TV, I always try to watch it! Especially, because of the songs!” (Kinopoisk); “Love...

    • 23 Classical Theater and Puppetry: La Máquina Real
      (pp. 229-236)
      Sergio Adillo Rufo

      Despite the considerable bibliography generated in recent years about the staging of our classical texts, and despite John E. Varey’sHistoria de los títeres en España(1957),¹ the marionette theater of the Spanish Golden Age has been of little interest to critics and even less to theater professionals. Scholarly studies have been few and far between. perhaps for this reason, no company has dared to approach in a rigorous way the puppet theater of Spain’s “teatro áureo.”

      Just a few years ago, Francisco J. Cornejo of the University of Seville started to revise the documents Varey had gathered in his...

    • 24 Remaking Moreto’s El desdén con el desdén: From Author’s Text to Director’s Text
      (pp. 237-244)
      Francisco García Vicente

      As a professor and director, I aim to include the perspective of a present-day spectator in my staging process, in order to establish connections between what happens on stage and the reality of the society for which the play is performed. In 2008 I directed Agustín Moreto’sEl desdén con el desdénat the Escuela Superior de Arte dramático de Murcia, a production that toured numerous festivals throughout Spain, the united States, and Mexico for two years. I aimed for an aesthetic position and a style—in our case, a transposition to the 1950s, including various musical numbers—that would...

    • 25 Lope’s Peribáñez on the Lyric Stage
      (pp. 245-254)
      Donald R. Larson

      Among students of European drama it is more or less generally known that a number of Spanish plays of the first half of the nineteenth century were later fashioned into operas. Some of these transformations resulted in works that remain popular and admired today, notably Verdi’sLa forza del destino, based on a play by the duque de Rivas, and the same composer’sIl trovatoreandSimon Boccanegra, both based on plays by Antonio García Gutiérrez. Much less known is the fact that several GoldenAge comediasalso had a second life on the lyric stage, although, with a few...

    • 26 A Musical Marta
      (pp. 255-264)
      FeliPe B. Pedraza Jiménez

      Marta la piadosahas been among the most popular of Tirso’s plays over the last fifty years. While it is true that in our time—and, one might add, in any other time—Don Gil de las calzas verdesandEl vergonzoso en palaciohave been the Mercedarian’s comedies par excellence,Martahas been aside from these possibly his most frequently edited comic work; it has received particular attention from critics and, on occasion, has made it to the stage or earned the honor of a Radio Nacional de España recording.

      In spite of this, the only professional staging in...

  12. Play Titles Cited
    (pp. 265-268)
  13. Works Cited
    (pp. 269-286)
  14. Index
    (pp. 287-303)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 304-304)