The first edition of Our New Gold Digital Theatre Festival (2021) was funded by an Ohio Wesleyan Theory to Practice Grant 2021. Our New Gold 2021, features a group of talented Ohio Wesleyan students who explored new ways of approaching, understanding and adapting Spanish classical theater in order to give visibility to often marginalized characters created by 17th century Hispanic playwrights.
- Artistic Director: Paula Rodríguez
- Creative Team: Jasmine Lew, Fiona Hansen, and Marcos Crespo (Ohio Wesleyan University)
- Project Supervisor: Glenda Y. Nieto Cuebas (Ohio Wesleyan University)
The collaborative sessions started in January 2021 culminating in a presentation showcased on May 7th, 11th and 15th of 2021. The process consisted of a series of three workshops combining essential aspects of producing an artistic project inspired by the Spanish Golden Age Theatre, in the current climate. The students delved into different tasks such as translating, rewriting, filming, producing and promoting their creations.
First Workshop: Writing and Translating
During this stage of the process, the students spent 4 weeks finding texts, adapting them to fit their artistic visions, and giving each other feedback over Zoom. They each began with an idea of an issue they wanted to tackle and a text that they thought reflected that issue and either worked with the monologues as they were written in Spanish verse; translated the texts themselves into an English version; or created new text completely based off of these scripts. Depending on what they wanted to accomplish, the students sometimes did more than one of these processes within the same piece.
Second Workshop: Filming and Editing
During this stage of the process, they spent the next 4 weeks of their workshop on shooting videos and making sure that not only were their creative visions clear, but that the videos ran smoothly and communicated the pieces’ messages the way the team wanted them to. This involved shooting, re-shooting, seeking new locations, and receiving feedback on the acting process and how to refine it.
Third Workshop: Creating the festival and planning the event
During this last stage of the process the students created their social media accounts, designed the presentations, developed their YouTube channel, and worked together to promote the project and coordinate the event. They assigned one another roles based on their various skill sets and combined creative efforts into project management in order to bring this festival to life in this online setting.
Juicio de Laurencia | Laurencia’s Judgement
This piece is inspired by the character Laurencia, from the play “Fuenteovejuna” written by Lope de Vega. Fuenteovejuna is a town that has recently been placed under the command of a military Captain who abuses his power. Laurencia is a woman of the town, and the mayor’s daughter, and she has been speaking out against the Captain. Right before this scene takes place, Laurencia has been stolen by the Captain and sexually assaulted. In the original play, Laurencia goes to her father and the other men of the town and shames them into confronting the Captain for his deeds. The men and the rest of the town end up collectively killing the Captain in order to protect themselves — everyone is to blame, so therefore no one is to blame. This coins the classic Spanish phrase, “Fuenteovejuna did it”.
In this version, Laurencia has taken matters into her own hands. It is too late for the men to fix anything; they should have supported the women of the town with actions instead of words long ago. This piece denounces communities who do not create safe spaces or believe survivors of emotional and physical violence.
This piece is specifically based off of the moment towards the end of the play in which she shames the men of the town. In writing this piece, I took fragments of Laurencia’s actual monologue and interweaved them with my own original writing, pushing her words to a more independent, feminist standpoint. I believe Laurencia was a feminist and a rebel, but due to the societal standards of the time the original play was written, she is still too dependent on the men’s support. In my version of her monologue, she creates her own justice.
El Papel del Pobre | The Beggar’s Role
This piece is inspired by the character of The Beggar (El Pobre) from El Gran Teatro del Mundo by Pedro Calderon de la Barca. In the play, the world is a theatre production created by God and he assigns roles to people. Throughout the story, the beggar is conflicted and disappointed with the fact that he was ‘cast’ as a person who has been poor his whole life, while there were others who were chosen to be kings and rich. In the piece, the actor expresses his frustrations with the role he has been given, but later learns and comes to terms with the fact that he can’t change his role, but he is no less worthy than others.
La Transformación de Lisarda | Lisarda’s Transformation
Lisarda’s monologue is taken from the play El Muerto Disimulado by Ángela de Azevedo. Lisarda is a noble woman who believes that her brother has been brutally murdered. Unwilling to allow this to stand, she disguises herself as a man named Lisardo in order to call a hit on whomever murdered her brother. The monologue from which this piece was adapted has been largely unchanged from the source material, but it presented as dialogue in the original text and in this piece it is a monologue directed towards an invisible scene partner and narrated over the process of Lisarda’s cross dressing. This piece presents her as a corporate heiress undergoing a “transformation” in order “become” her brother and avenge him. It also utilizes comic book effects for humor and to make the piece seem larger-than-life, complete with speech bubbles and interjections.
Poder / Libertad / Miedo | Power / Freedom / Fear
This piece is inspired by the character Semíramis from “La hija del aire”, and the character Basilio from “La vida es sueño”, both written by Pedro Calderón de la Barca. Semíramis is destined to be queen, but she is also destined to kill the king, so she has been locked away in a prison cave her entire life. Basilio is a king whose son, Segismundo, is destined to be a tyrant, so he has locked his own son away for the whole of his life.
In this piece, the character’s values and circumstances are used to show how they are two sides of the same coin. Both Semíramis and Basilio are focused on power, but for different reasons. Semíramis wants to gain the power, freedom, and autonomy that has been kept from her her entire life, and she has no fear or reservations about her goals. Basilio already has power and is afraid of losing it, so much so that he cannot make decisions for himself, and has doubts about everything that he does.
These characters reflect thoughts and conversations that are occurring in our society today, about what it means to be powerful, or to be free, and the role that fear plays in creating those meanings. This piece shines light on what it means to keep your power, and therefore your freedom, because of fear, and what it means to gain freedom and power in spite of fear.
Buscándolo | Searching For It
This piece is inspired by the character of Paulo in the El Condenado Por Desconfiado by Tirso de Molina in which it is directly brought to life by the opening lines of the protagonist as he steps out into nature to admire it. In this interpretation, we decided it was best to use a calm and soothing voice when talking about nature as our goal was for the audience to feel relaxed as if they themselves were surrounded by all the descriptions listed. We also thought that this passage in the original text was surprisingly up-to-date as any viewer is always going to be able to relate to admiring the beauty of our planet and how grateful we should be for having it every day with us. This is exactly what Paulo is expressing.
Una Historia en la Voz de Otros | A Story In the Voice of Others
Mencia’s story is based on the play El médico de su honra by Pedro Calderón de la Barca. This controversial honor-play deals with the ideas of fidelity and honor and prizes honor over life. The main character, Mencia, is falsely accused of infidelity but cannot protest her innocence because prior to being wedded to her husband, Don Gutierre, she was promised to another man named Enrique before her father bid her marry Don Gutierre. She is reunited with Enrique in a moment during which she finds him injured beside her house, and because of this a sequence of misunderstandings ensues that ends in her husband ordering her to be killed. He only learns of her innocence after her death.
This play was not originally received as a tragedy but as a warning with regards to wives’ behavior and only in contemporary terms has been interpreted as the tragedy that it is. This piece uses the narration of the men in her life collaged together to tell her story in English, using both the translation and the use of others’ dialogue to emphasize that her story is unheard. Her narration in Spanish that bookends this section is original writing expressing both her dilemma and her despair in her final moments. Her actual dialogue in the play does not appear.
Pensamiento Libre | Free Thought
This piece is inspired by the character Teodoro from “El Perro de Hortelano”, written by Lope de Vega. In the original play, Teodoro is a man of lower class who has fallen in love with a high class girl whom he serves. In this monologue, he remarks on the pain and excitement of societally forbidden love.
In our recontextualization, Teodoro is a woman who is admitting her true feelings to herself about another woman for the first time. None of the words in this piece have changed from the original text, only the context has changed. While class difference in relationships can still be an issue today, I wanted to change the context of this piece to something that felt more relevant and relatable to myself and hopefully to our audiences.
This piece speaks to the internal “forbiddenness” that society has taught queer people to place within themselves more than the societal forbbidenness that puts queer lives in danger. There is an important distinction there. The Teodoro in this piece’s context is privileged enough to not have to worry too much about being accepted by the people around her. This piece is meant to be a celebration of overcoming that internalized forbiddenness (also known as internalized homophobia or compulsory heterosexuality), and the excitement and fear and eventual acceptance that comes along with making this type of realization.
Maestra de marionetas | Puppet Master
This piece is inspired by the character Aldora from “El conde Partinuplés” written by Ana Caro de Mallén. Aldora is a sorceress who has committed to helping her cousin, the Empress Rosaura, manipulate a count into marrying her. This version of Aldora goes beyond anything written down in the script. It takes the idea of the original Aldora’s power and runs with it, recontextualizing that same power and putting it in the hands of a social media influencer. The power of social media today is comparable to the magic demonstrated in the original play, especially in the sense of psychological manipulation. Before this piece begins, Aldora’s social media following has accused her of abusing her power, so she hops on her Instagram in order to get them to see her side.
Una Fabula | A Fable
Belisa’s monologue is derived from the play La traición en la amistad by Maria de Zayas y Sotomayor. This play is a woman-centric comedy dealing with fallings out in female friendships over love and love lost. Belisa is a secondary character who provides a level head during the chaos of the play, and her monologue from which this was adapted is delivered as a shrewd response to the chauvinistic rantings of the philanderous servant of one of the central characters’ suitors. Instead of using the monologue itself, this piece uses English original text written based on the monologue and tells this fabula to modern viewers. It frames the text as that of a YouTube personality answering anonymous questions from “Nice Guys” on the internet to provide humor and social commentary to the piece.
Ancestros | Ancestors
This piece is inspired by the character of Bariato in the play El Cerco de Numancia by Miguel de Cervantes. In the play, the town of Numancia is invaded by Romans and they kill all of the inhabitants and the only survivor is Bariato, a kid. However, he realizes that the only way for the invaders to not win is by him committing suicide. He does so and as expected, the leader of the Romans soon regrets the massacre.
In this piece, we decided to adapt the common theme of sacrifice and implement it to modern-day situations. We also utilized a voice actor expressing Bariato’s thoughts and an interpretive dancer for the overall mood and feel of the themes.