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Siglo de Oro

The Spanish Golden Age extends from approximately 1500 – 1680, and writers such as Miguel de Cervantes, Félix Lope de Vega y Carpio, and Pedro Calderón de la Barca occupy a space alongside Shakespeare as constitutive of canons of western literature.

 

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was born in Mexico in 1648; her writing is greatly influenced by Spanish Golden Age traditions and she is considered central to Mexican Colonial literature. The Colonial period of Mexico extends from 1521 – 1821, bookended by the beginning of Spanish rule to the end of the Mexican War of Independence.

Latinx playwrights have often taken up the Spanish Golden Age in adaptation, sometimes translating plays into English to adapt, modernizing the Spanish, and/or engaging with themes and dramaturgy.

Scroll down or press the following links for adaptations of plays by Calderón, Cervantes, Sor Juana, Other Siglo de Oro playwrights, and for the forthcoming research on Siglo Latinx.

Calderón

Life is a Dream
by María Irene Fornés

Fornés adapted La vida es sueño in 1981, updating some of the language as well as the ending. It was first staged at INTAR in New York and directed by Fornés. A production at Baltimore Center Stage directed by Stevie Walker-Webb ran in May 2023.

latinx theatrical adaptation, latinx plays, shakespearean productions and adaptations, latinx Shakespeares, productions and adaptations of Shakespeare's,
Courtesy of Baltimore Center Stage

Sueño
by José Rivera

Rivera’s adaptation of La vida es sueño was commissioned and first produced by Hartford Stage Company in 1998. Rivera retains Calderón’s three-act structure, story, and setting, while updating the language in English and retaining a few Spanish words.

Photography by Ilena Yeru Pegan
Courtesy of Mendocino College
All images from the 2017 production at Mendocino College, directed by Reid Edelman

Dreamlandia
by Octavio Solis

Solis transposes the themes of La vida es sueño into a contemporary borderlands play that was first staged in 2000 at the Dallas Theater Center. The action is set on the Texas-Mexico border and includes images of crossing, characters who share dreams, and an exploration of how old stories are retold.

All images courtesy of Working Classroom
from their 2013 production, directed by Monica Sanches

Cutting Calderon’s La vida es sueño by nearly a third, he omits the mythological references that anchor the play to classicism, alters the verse structure, and shifts the setting to a non-descript land. The play was first performed in 2007 at South Coast Repertory in Costa Mesa, CA.

Life is a Dream
by Nilo Cruz

Painting in Red
by Luis Alfaro

Alfaro’s adaptation of Calderón’s El pintor de su deshonra was commissioned by UCLA’s Diversifying the Classics Initiative and had a reading in 2013. Alfaro rewrites the play to a contemporary Los Angeles setting. It was first produced at Greenway Court Theatre in Los Angeles the following year.

Cervantes

Welcome Back to Salamanca
Book and lyrics by Migdalia Cruz
Music by Fernando Rivas

Cruz’s 1988 presented at INTAR is a one-act musical that was inspired by Cervantes’ La cueva de salamanca. It is set in a futuristic New York.

La Razón Blindada
by Aristides Vargas

Link to full article

This two-man play by Argentine playwright Aristides Vargas has toured throughout the United States and the world. Because of its presence in U.S. theaters since the 24th Street Theatre production in 2011, when it received the LA Weekly “Production of the Year” award, it is included in this archive of US performance.

Don Quixote
by Octavio Solis

Solis first wrote a theatrical version of the first book of Don quijote for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2009. It was directed by Laird Williamson. The play included Cervantes as a character. It was staged with different types of puppetry made of found materials.

Don Quixote & Sancho Panza: Homeless in Seattle by Rose Cano

Don Quixote and Sancho Panza: Homeless in Seattle
by Rose Cano

Cano’s play that is inspired by Don quijote transposed the setting to contemporary Seattle, with Don Quixote as a homeless Latino man. It was first performed by eSe Teatro at ACT Theatre in Seattle in 2016 and directed by David Quicksall.

Courtesy of ACT - A Contemporary Theatre

Quixote Nuevo
by Octavio Solis

First performed in 2018, Solis’ Quixote Nuevo is a fundamentally new play from his earlier Don Quixote. Departing from Cervantes’ novel, it includes a contemporary borderlands setting and a Papa Muerte calaca figure. By its stagings in 2021, puppetry was integrated into the show, a significant re-envisioning of the puppetry of his early play.

Photography by: Adams VisCom
Courtesy of: Denver Center for the Performing Arts
from their 2022 production, directed by Lisa Portes

Don Quixote de la Merced
by Ángel Núñez and William Wolfgang

In 2021, Merced ShakespeareFest continued their bilingual filmed productions and transposed the action to contemporary Merced, California and it was filmed during the Covid-19 restrictions in outdoor spaces in the area. It was directed by Wolfgang and Núñez.

All ephemera courtesy of Merced Shakespearefest 

Don Quixote
by Anne Ludlum and David Quicksall

First performed in 2005 by Book-It Repertory in Seattle, this adaptation of both Part I and Part II of the Quijote had numerous productions over the years. In 2023, it was performed by a youth company of actors by Teatro Visión at Mexican Heritage Plaza Theater in San José, CA, in English with supertitles both in English and in Spanish. It was directed by Rodrigo García.

latinx theatrical adaptation, latinx plays, shakespearean productions and adaptations, latinx Shakespeares, productions and adaptations of Shakespeare's,

Sor Juana

Portillo-Trambley’s play was published in 1983.

Sor Juana
by Estela Portillo-Tambley

The Sins of Sor Juana
by Karen Zacarías

Zacarías takes up Sor Juana’s choice to reject marriage in order to write in her 1998 play. The action takes place in 1693 Mexico, with flashbacks to 1665. The play had its world premiere in 1999 at George Mason University Theatre.

All ephemera courtesy of Ten Thousand Things Theater Company 
from their 2019 production, directed by Marcela Lorca.

The Tenth Muse
by Tanya Saracho

Sor Juana is not a character in Saracho’s 2013 play that was first staged at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. The action takes place in 1715, twenty years after the death of Sor Juana, and with a cast of seven female characters who find some of Sor Juana’s writings inside the convent.

All ephemera courtesy of Davis Shakespeare Festival
from their 2019 production, directed by Rob Salas.

Trouble at Home
by Anadina Saladino

This 2021 adaptation of Sor Juana’s Los empeños de una casa retains the humor and farce of the original. It had its world premiere at Staten Island Shakespearean Theatre Company.

With an all-Latinx cast and creatives, this is a dramatic reading of some of Sor Juana's letters. Morones "fan letter" to Sor Juana was originally supposed to be staged in March 2020, but it was postponed due to COVID-19. It received its first production through San Francisco Shakespeare Festival in 2023 (dir. Karina Gutiérrez).

Querida Sor Juana
by Carolina Morones

Other

Johnny Tenorio
by Carlos Morton

This bilingual play is an adaptation of El burlador de sevilla and Don juan tenorio, based on the Zorilla y Moral version, published in Mexico in 1844. It was first performed in 1983. Morton sets the action in contemporary San Antonio during Day of the Dead festivities, with Johnny as Chicano.

In 1988, Solis adapted El burlador de sevilla and Don juan tenorio, based on the Zorilla y Moral version, published in Mexico in 1844. It was commissioned by the city of Dallas and first staged at Teatro Dallas before its premiere at South Coast Repertory in 1990. The play is set during Day of the Dead.

Man of the Flesh
by Octavio Solis

All images courtesy of Fordham University Theatre Department from their 2014 production, directed by Jessi D. Hill.

The Labyrinth of Desire
by Caridad Svich

Lope de Vega's La prueba de los ingenios is the inspiration for Svich’s 2006 play, commissioned and produced by UC San Diego and directed by Jerry Ruiz. The comedy isn’t without its undertones of intrigue, and Svich sets the action in “A world of mirrors and transformation.”

A full video is available below from the 2014 production at Fordham University, directed by Jessi D. Hill.

A Little Betrayal Among Friends
by Caridad Svich

This play inspired by María de Zayas y Sotomayor's La traicion de amistad was commissioned and first staged by Airmid Theatre Company in 2011 in New York and directed by Tricia McDermott. It is set in the 17th century, but it challenges the Don Juan legend and intricacies of love.

All images courtesy of Warren Levon from the 2011 production at Halcyon Theatre, directed by Lavina Jadhwani
This Bitch: Esta Sangre Quiero (El Perro del Hortelano) by Adrienne Dawes

This Bitch: Esta Sangre Quiero
by Adrienne Dawes

Link to full article

Playwright Adrienne Dawes adapts Lope de Vega's El perro del hortelano (Dog in a Manger) to contemporary influencer culture.

Courtesy of Adrienne Dawes

Enredos y Traiciones
by Eugenia Sancho

This play entirely in Spanish is based on María de Zayas y Sotomayor's La traicion de amistad but contains a modern twist. It was first performed in 2023 by six women at the Cultural Center of Spain in Miami (CCEMiami).

latinx theatrical adaptation, latinx plays, shakespearean productions and adaptations, latinx Shakespeares, productions and adaptations of Shakespeare's,

Siglo Latinx

Link to full article

Scholars Glenda Y. Nieto-Cuebas and Erin A. Cowling are researching the work of Latinx artists adapting early modern Hispanic plays. Siglo Latinx is a portmanteau—“Siglo” from the Spanish term Siglo de Oro (1550-1700) or “Golden Age” of Spanish cultural production and “Latinx” to designate the artists who adapt this work.

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