by: Erin A. Cowling and Glenda Y. Nieto-Cuebas
Siglo Latinx is a new interdisciplinary theoretical classification created by Glenda Y. Nieto-Cuebas and Erin A. Cowling for studying the work of Latinx—broadly defined as Latin Americans living in diaspora, particularly in North America—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.
Siglo Latinx theatre practitioners are creating new adaptations for contemporary audiences by highlighting and creating awareness of their own realities, lived experiences, and sociocultural backgrounds as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) artists in North America. We will study and address the work of prominent companies (US: Repertorio Español and Teatro Círculo; Canada: Puente Theatre and Aluna Theatre) and independent artists (Octavio Solís, Adrianne Dawes, Estefanía Fadul, Bea Pizano, among others) who are rewriting and recontextualizing Hispanic classical texts in order to promote socially transformative experiences for diverse audiences. The enormous canon of early modern Spanish theatre provides a wide variety of subject matter from which artists can choose, allowing them a leeway not found in other theatrical traditions.
This project aims to theorize the work of Latinx adaptors of the comedia via a comparative lens. Spanish, English, and Spanglish versions abound and are tied to the locality of the adaptors and their audiences. As such, we wish to draw attention to and boost the recognition of new, inclusive, and accessible adaptations of Hispanic classical plays in the North American context. The performances that we have seen come out of this mixture of the early modern and the here-and-now, and they have ranged from traditional, classical stagings to contemporary settings in the North American context, all of which bring rich reinterpretations to the comedia for the 21st century.
Although early modern Spanish theatre was traditionally considered conservative and propagandistic, these plays were also the pop culture of their time period and are easily translatable to themes and settings that speak to our modern-day sensibilities. The authors therefore reject the premise that adaptations that change time periods, settings, or even dialogue to speak to their audience are somehow weaker or less authentic than traditional stagings. Today’s BIPOC artists, just as those of the seventeenth century, are looking to make meaningful connections with their audiences and impact their communities. Nowhere do Cowling and Nieto-Cuebas find more innovative and modernized productions than by Latinx artists. The forthcoming book is under advanced contract with University of Toronto Press. To follow the progress, visit: www.siglolatinx.com