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Other Classics

Classics from the Americas and Europe have been adapted by Latinx playwrights and for Latinx cultures. Born Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, French playwright Molière (1622-1673) wrote farcical and satiric plays that were considered scandalous by the Catholic Church and helped to make comedy a respected genre in French theatre. Swedish playwright August Strindberg (1849-1912) was a prolific writer who experimented with naturalism and the psychology of his characters. Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) took up psychological, social, and feminist issues and is associated with the move toward naturalism and modernist theatre.

Other classics from the Americas and from Europe that have been adapted include a wide range of influences, from John Steinbeck, Octavio Paz, John Ford, Mark Twain, John Milton, and Bertolt Brecht. 

Molière

The Miser of Mexico
by Carlos Morton

Carlos Morton’s The Miser of Mexico is an adaptation of Molière’s The Miser set just before the Mexican Revolution. It was first performed in 1989 and is still being performed in 2023.

latinx theatre, latinx plays, latinx Shakespeares, mexican shakespeare, chicano shakespeare, bilingual theatre
Poster from the 2023 production at Southwestern College Theatre Arts, directed by Sandra Cortez.

Mixed Blessings
by Luis Santeiro

Luis Santeiro’s Mixed Blessings is an adaptation of Molière’s Tartuffe transposed to Cuban American culture in Miami. First performed in 1989 at the Coconut Grove Playhouse in Miami, it was Raúl Esparza’s first professional role.

Manifest Destinis
by Herbert Siguenza

Herbert Siguenza’s adaptations of Molière include Manifest Destinis, an adaptation of Molière’s The Imaginary Invalid. It is set in Alta California, after the Mexican-American War (1846-48) and before the Gold Rush of 1849. It was first performed at San Diego Repertory Theatre in 2016.

Manifest Destinis by Herbert Siguenza
Photography by Daren Scott
Courtesy of Daren Scott

Bad Hombres / Good Wives
by Herbert Siguenza

Siguenza also wrote Bad Hombres / Good Wives, an adaptation of Molière’s The School for Wives, and Siguenza notes that it also borrows ideas from The Importance of Being Earnest, Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet. The play engages with narcocultura and a farcical telenovela style, and it was first performed at San Diego Repertory Theatre in 2019.

All images courtesy of Jim Carmody

Strindberg

Miss Julia
by J.Ed Araiza

J.Ed Araiza wrote Miss Julia, a bilingual adaptation of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie. It is set in Colombia on Midsummer Eve (on or near the summer solstice), and it was first performed in Colombia in 2013. It has since been performed in Spain, and Italy, and in 2017, it was performed at La Mama ETC in New York, as part of the Chicago Latin American Theatre Festival at Steppenwolf, and as part of El Encuentro de las Américas at the Los Angeles Theatre Center.

Photography by Federico Rios Escobar
Courtesy of Vueltas Bravas Producciones

Queen of Basel
by Hilary Bettis

Hilary Bettis adapted Miss Julie to Queen of Basel, set during Miami’s weeklong Art Basel and involves a wealth South Beach socialite and her companions Christine (who escaped violence in her native Venezuela) and her fiancé John. It premiered in 2019 at Studio Theatre in Washington, DC.

Images courtesy of TheaterWorks Hartford from their February 2023 production, directed by Cristina Angeles

Ibsen

The Summer in Gossensass
by María Irene Fornés

María Irene Fornés directed Ibsen’s Hedda Gabbler in 1987 at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre. Her 1997 The Summer in Gossensass has themes from Gabbler and was originally titled Ibsen and the Actress. The play is meta-theatrical and it tells the story of the actresses who organized the first English-language production of the play, in London in 1891.

An Enemy of the Pueblo

by Josefina López

Josefina López adapted Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People to An Enemy of the Pueblo. The play premiered in 2017 at CASA 0101, the theater and cultural arts center that López founded in Boyle Heights in Los Angeles. The play is set in the fictional bordertown of Milagros and centers on a curandera and the issue of ecological damage and violations of land and a healthy water supply.

Photography by Federico Rios Escobar
Courtesy of Vueltas Bravas Producciones

from the Americas

Solitude
by Evelina Fernandez

Link to full article

Evelina Fernandez’s Solitude was inspired by Mexican writer Octavio Paz’s The Labyrinth of Solitude. It was first staged at the Los Angeles Theatre Center in 2009.

Pastures of Heaven
by Octavio Solis

Octavio Solis adapted John Steinbeck’s short story collection, The Pastures of Heaven, for the stage. It was first produced at California Shakespeare Theatre in Berkeley in 2010 and it was performed in Salinas in 2012.

Denim Doves
by Adrienne Dawes

Adrienne Dawes’ Denim Doves harkens on Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and is set in a dystopian future. It had its world premiere at Salvage Vanguard Theater in Austin in 2016 and was created collaboratively with the theater.

All images courtesy of Adrienne Dawes

Kid Prince and Pablo
by Brian Quijada

Brian Quijada’s Kid Prince and Pablo is an adaptation of Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper. It was commissioned by the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and was first performed there in 2019. It updates the story through contemporary hip hop culture.

Mother Road
by Octavio Solis

Octavio Solis creates the Mexican and Chicanx descendants of Tom Joad from John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath in his epic play, Mother Road. Solis extends Steinbeck’s story and themes to a new generation. The play had its first staged reading at the Latinx Theatre Commons (LTC) Carnaval in Chicago in 2015 and its world premiere at Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) in 2019.

All images courtesy of Arena Stage
from their 2020 production

Death of a Salesman
by Arthur Miller

CASA0101 Theater in Boyle Heights hosted a reading of the play in January 2023, directed by Robert Beltran. They then staged a production that began in June 2023, directed by Corky Dominguez. Josefina López is founder and artistic director, and CASA0101 in Los Angeles hosts a range of cultural events and arts education for the community.

Courtesy of CASA0101 Theater

Shane
by Karen Zacarías

Karen Zacarías reimagined Jack Schaefer's 1949 novel, Shane, (made into a film in 1953). Zacarías created a new version of this Old West mythology, with "the Starretts as a Latino family and Shane as the son of a Cuban slave." The play premiered at The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis in July 2023, directed by Blake Robison.

Other Classics from Europe

Pancho Diablo
by Carlos Morton

The sequel to El Jardín, Carlos Morton’s musical comedy/farce takes its inspiration from John Milton’s Paradise Lost. Here, the Devil is an undertaker along the U.S.-Mexico border. Originally called El Cuento de Pancho Diablo, he wrote the play in 1974 for his doctoral dissertation. It was staged at the New York Shakespeare Festival’s Festival Latino in 1987.

El Jardin is a musical comedy and a parody of the medieval play, Fall of Man, and Milton’s Paradise Lost; Dante is also an influence. It was originally written in 1973 and revised for the 1988 production by the Puerto Rican Traveling Theater (PRTT) in various locations in New York.

El Jardín
by Carlos Morton

The Trial of Trials

by Ricardo Bracho

Ricardo Bracho adapted Brecht’s The Decision (translated as The Measures Taken) as The Trial of Trials for an Asian-American cast.

Skin
by Naomi Iizuka

Naomi Iizuka’s 1995 Skin is an adaptation of Georg Büchner’s Woyzeck. It does not have a Latinx theme, but it is set in modern-day southern California and like Büchner’s play, it addresses the treatment of the working class.

Salt
by Migdalia Cruz

Migdalia Cruz’s Salt has its roots in John Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore. The action is set in Chicago amongst underage sex workers. It was first staged at Raw Space in New York in 1998.

3 to a Session: A Monster’s Tale
by Desi Moreno-Penson

In 2004, Desi Moreno-Penson’s 3 to a Session: A Monster’s Tale premiered at INTAR as part of their New Works Lab. It is an adaptation of Sartre’s No Exit. It is a short, surrealist play that addresses machismo in Latin culture. In 2012, it was performed in Spanish at Teatro Coribantes in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

YOU/EMMA
by Paz Pardo

conceived and performed by Valerie Redd

Argentine-American writer Paz Pardo adapted Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary for YOU/EMMA. It premiered in 2018 at IRT Theater in New York and was produced by Wandering Bark Theatre Company. It is a one-woman show that shifts between past and present.

All images courtesy of The Pear / Wandering Bark Theatre Co.
from their 2018 production

In 2018, Luis Alfaro’s Mama of the Row had its first reading as a work in progress. The action is set in downtown Los Angeles; the play was commissioned by Center Theatre Group (CTG) as part of their free Library Play Reading Series.

Mama of the Row or Who Raised the Rent?
(A Los Angeles Vaudeville of Tragic Proportions) A Displacement of Bertolt Brecht’s ‘Mother Courage and Her Children’

by Luis Alfaro

Escobar's Hippo
by Franky D. Gonzalez

Franky D. Gonzalez’s Escobar’s Hippo is inspired by Eugène Ionesco’s plays, especially Rhinoceros and The Killer. The play is an absurdist comedy set in Colombia. It was first workshopped at Antaeus Theatre Company in 2020 and has had several workshops and readings since then.

Olivas' adaptation of Beckett's Waiting for Godot involves two characters, Isabel and Jesús, waiting for a character named Godínez. The play had a staged reading as part of the Cimientos Play Development series at Theater Todo Vanguardia (IATI) in New York in 2023, directed by Andrea Goldman.

Waiting for Godínez

by Daniel A. Olivas

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